Learning how to like yourself is an ongoing process that requires patience, determination, and a lot of self-compassion. Many of us were raised with the values of self-esteem and confidence, but somewhere along the way, we lose these attributes in adulthood.
Because of powerful influences like social media, it seems more challenging than ever to like what you see when you look in the mirror. Sadly, it’s not just physical critiques, either. Many of us fall into the habit of criticizing ourselves emotionally and mentally.
Sure, it’s good to seek out self-improvement, but only when done healthily. If you too struggle with the concept of loving (and liking) yourself, then keep reading to discover more about this problem and see what you can do to change.
Why it's hard to like yourself
Learning to dislike yourself is an unhealthy thought pattern that can develop as early as childhood. This habit often starts due to critical parenting for some, but that’s not always the case.
Unfortunately, some people’s brains are simply predisposed to this type of thinking, so it’s more of a natural reflex than a learned behavior.
I believe it’s normal to challenge yourself to be better in some areas of life, but blatantly disliking yourself is entirely different. We all want to change ourselves in one way or another. That’s human nature. Some typical areas for self-improvement include wanting to be:
The desire to change everything about yourself or fixate on a few bad qualities can quickly get out of hand, though. For example, dwelling on your weight or physical appearance can sometimes lead to eating disorders.
So you have to be aware of your inner dialogue and negative thoughts to keep these feelings in check.
So how exactly does a desire to improve yourself transform into not liking yourself? Well, it’s complicated.
Why do I dislike myself?
Some people don’t hate their bodies because of their physical appearance, but instead for more complex reasons. For example, it might be easy to fall into self-hatred if you are battling a physical disability or chronic health condition.
I have personally been diagnosed with a few challenging health conditions, and there are days when I do indeed hate my body. It’s hard to love yourself (or even like yourself) when your body struggles to function normally. I consistently compare myself to other people in my age group and wonder why my life can’t be as easy as theirs.
Not everyone shares this same sentiment, obviously. For some people, hating yourself goes much deeper than the physical body. We can dislike ourselves for a multitude of reasons, like:
- The inability to find love.
- The struggle to finish college or find a decent job.
- The challenge of facing our past traumas.
- Finding a way to forgive ourselves for past mistakes.
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5 tips to like yourself better
Like any other form of irrational thinking, learning to like yourself takes time and dedication. But, unfortunately, when you get comfortable tearing yourself down every day, it’s difficult to stop this addictive thought process suddenly.
Luckily, there are numerous small ways to change your thinking and ultimately start to like yourself more.
1. Accept your flaws
Everyone wants to change something about themselves. Whether it be an acne-filled face or your bad habit of procrastinating, there’s always room for improvement. But fixating on those flaws will only bring you down.
If you must work on personal growth, I recommend you start small. Just focus on one thing you want to fix and leave the rest alone.
Nobody is expecting you to be perfect in life. There is often beauty and ingenuity in our imperfections. You don’t have to love your flaws necessarily. Just start to accept them for what they are.
2. Forgive yourself
Once you start to accept yourself and your flaws, I also suggest you learn how to forgive yourself. Developing a sense of self-compassion is critical to loving (and liking) yourself.
Sometimes this type of forgiveness involves other people, as it may pertain to a poor choice you made in a past relationship. However, forgiveness can be a strictly private matter as well.
This could involve forgiving yourself for:
- Being sad or depressed.
- Worrying incessantly.
- A cheat meal or an extra slice of cake.
- Dwelling on negative things.
It might sound silly, but I believe it’s important to acknowledge this kind of forgiveness with yourself either in a journal or maybe in a therapy session. It’s often quite alarming when we think about the various things we’re holding onto. Letting go of these internal battles is a big step in the right direction to liking yourself more.
3. Practice positive self-talk
Self-talk is essentially the inner dialogue that can feed us either positive or negative messages. If you struggle to like yourself, you are probably already familiar with negative self-talk, as it often plays a significant role in self-hatred.
On the other hand, positive self-talk can make a huge difference in your self-love journey. For example, simply reminding yourself that you are worthy, beautiful, and good enough can genuinely change the way you think about yourself long-term.
There are several other benefits to positive self-talk, including:
- Improved immunity.
- Pain reduction.
- Stress reduction.
- Overall greater life satisfaction.
4. Stop comparing
Social media has made it nearly impossible for us to love and accept ourselves fully because we are constantly bombarded with ridiculous highlight reels from other people’s lives. So when you compare your worst day with someone’s best moment, of course, you will be disappointed.
I’m not saying you have to quit social media altogether unless that’s something you feel led to do. But instead, maybe try to control your social media intake per day because it almost always leads to unhealthy comparisons.
I think it is essential to stay off of social media on the days when you are feeling really down about yourself. If you’re already struggling to like yourself, looking at a celebrity’s picture-perfect life will likely just make you feel worse.
Here's an article with more tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others.
5. Look for the good
Finally, I want to stress the importance of finding things you genuinely like about yourself. Of course, there will always be things you wish you could change, but on the flip side, I believe you can always find a few good qualities if you look hard enough.
If you need some motivation or help in this area, I suggest you ask your loved ones what characteristics they like about you. Their answers might surprise you.
I believe there is good in everyone if only you take the time to find it.
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Learning to like yourself is often a lifelong battle, so don’t get discouraged if things don’t come easy at first. Even if you only make small changes, in the beginning, baby steps are better than nothing at all. Hopefully, with the addition of these tips in your life, you will learn to like yourself more over time. Continue to find the good in yourself and accept who you are. Remember, no one is perfect. We are all just doing the best we can.
Do you find it hard to like yourself, even during your best days? Try to work on some of the tips discussed in this article and let me know what your experiences are. I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!