If you’re struggling to feel good about who you are now–without conditions–know two things. First, you don’t have to beat yourself up for believing negative myths about yourself; self-acceptance today isn’t easy. Second, with help, you can learn how to veer off the course set by a painful self-narrative. Contact a therapist for help improving your self-acceptance.

1. You’re faced with unfair standards

If you’re an introvert, you can start to feel bad about yourself in a society that values extroversion. The truth is that there’s nothing objectively right about being an extrovert; it’s just a culturally-valued trait. There’s nothing objectively right about fitting into a certain size pair of jeans either, but it can be really hard to believe that when you’re constantly exposed to messages that say the opposite.

2. You want to be better

Billboards and other kinds of consumer marketing work because they cause you to think about what’s wrong with the way you are now. Maybe at some point you gave yourself over to the belief that by not accepting yourself, you were giving yourself the tools to be better.

3. You put conditions on self-acceptance

Do you postmark your happiness and send it into a version of the future in which you’ve accomplished more, changed your life, or made enough money? The hardest part about shipping self-acceptance off to wait for you is that your definition of what’s “enough” likely keeps changing.

4. Feeling out of control makes you insecure

When you don’t get the job, or a relationship ends, one of the hardest things to cope with is feeling like you’ve lost control. Your efforts and desires weren’t enough to affect the outcome you wanted. When your hands are tied, you might turn on yourself to feel like you’re behind the wheel again. “If I change this about myself, the next relationship won’t end.”

5. It’s easier to dismiss the positive, and use the negative to define yourself

You likely know that denying yourself acceptance in order to improve only works for so long. You can’t stop tallying up all the things you’re not, even when you’re great–which is probably right now!

The difficulty in escaping negative self-beliefs is that they reinforce themselves. If you believe you’ll fail in a social situation, you might avoid going out altogether.

6. Self-acceptance takes a lot of practice

Even when you try really hard to accept yourself, the conditions that originally led you to believe you weren’t “good enough” can still persist. You might decide to accept yourself one day, yet berate yourself the next day for a silly mistake.

7. You don’t feel accepted by others

If something in your environment is creating a roadblock between you and self-acceptance, it can be really hard to weed out what’s keeping you down. If you’re in a toxic work environment or a painful relationship, it’s not easy–and often logistically difficult to leave.

8. Forgiving yourself is hard.

Even if you stop collecting your mistakes as a museum of yourself, forgiving yourself for past mistakes can still hold you back from self-love. Accepting the good is a great start; eventually you can learn to accept what you can’t yet forgive yourself for too.


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