“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ― Louise L. Hay

When we accept both our positive and negative attributes, including our bodies, and believe that we are worthy, our emotional health and overall well-being are boosted tremendously.

However, many of us struggle with self-acceptance, often based on things we were told by our parents and others who influenced us during our childhood. We feel we’re not good enough, smart enough or attractive enough. We spend lots of energy on building what we believe to be a more acceptable and lovable image of ourselves. An image we think is worthy of approval, love, and security, even if this means not being true to ourselves.

This lack of self-acceptance often manifests itself via negative self-talk, self-criticism, self-judgment worry, fear, and anxiety. Clearly these negatively affect our emotional wellness and prevent us from reaching our full potential in life.

So what can we do to accept and love ourselves, including our perceived flaws and shortcomings? What are some practical steps can we take?

Monitor your self-talk
Monitor your self-talk, that non-stop commentary in your head, and train yourself to engage in positive self-talk. Schedule a few minutes at regular times throughout the day when you won’t be interrupted and remind yourself out loud of your strengths and positive qualities. When you do, mean it, believe it!

Reframe your thoughts
As for your thoughts, learn to reframe the negative ones. For example, instead of thinking “there’s no way I’ll be able to complete this assignment today” replace the thought with “Let me relax, focus, break this down into smaller steps and manage my time well so I’ll complete it today.”

Celebrate wins, forgive losses
Pay attention to the way in which you tend to respond to your successes and failures; positive and negative feedback-loops will form in your mind based on your tendencies. Do you tend to pass off your achievements as luck? And beat yourself up after failures? Be sure to balance being tough on yourself with self-compassion. Celebrate your achievements, forgive your losses.

Practice self-compassion and self-care
Learn to love and look after yourself as you would a child. Many of us don’t have compassion for ourselves yet recognize that a child that hurts itself needs to be held, hugged or otherwise comforted. Treat yourself the same way.

Practice gratitude
Being appreciative and thankful is one of the most powerful ways to transform your life. Be grateful to yourself! First thing in the morning, and last thing before you go to bed, take a moment to be grateful to yourself for: anything you did well that day; the support you gave a family member; the call you made to a friend; any kindness you showed others or yourself; or anything else that makes you feel even the smallest bit good about yourself.

Help others
Helping others improves boost self-esteem. Volunteer your time, help someone in need of assistance or donate to a cause you care about.

Achieving full self-acceptance may not be simple for all of us, but it is achievable. Learn which of these suggestions work best for you, then take it one small step at a time, for the sake of your peace of mind, health and well-being.

And don’t worry about being perfect, just focus on being true to yourself and being your best for you!