7 Ways to Love Yourself (Flaws and All!)
You’re not perfect.
I’m not trying to be mean, so please don’t take any offense! Just stating something that I bet you already know. In fact, I’d wager you could bend my ear on how you’re not perfect for the better part of an hour (or more!).
But, here’s the thing - if you and I were chatting over cups of coffee in a cozy little cafe, and you went on and on about your flaws, I doubt I’d notice any of them. I’d sit there and wonder how you could possibly see yourself in that light since none of what you were describing was apparent to me, or anyone else.
Sadly, knowing that most women are their own worst critics, I’d know that you meant everything you were telling me and you were probably curating your list only to share the “best” of your flaws. Your self-criticism probably runs even deeper than you care to admit.
Unfortunately, by focusing on all of those supposed flaws, it comes as no surprise to say that women struggle with loving themselves.
Besides society implying that you’re conceited if you love yourself, your own self-judgment doesn’t even allow you to get that far. And, that needs to stop.
Everyone deserves love - both from others and yourself. In fact, the love you feel for yourself lays the foundation for the love you allow yourself to receive from others.
So, let’s talk about how to love yourself in spite of your flaws.
EVERYONE IS FLAWED
This isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but the fact is: everyone is flawed. No one on this planet is perfect (thank goodness!).
But, despite how common and natural it is to be imperfect, you probably see your flaws as evidence as to why you’re not good enough. For some, the practice of spotting and fixating on personal flaws is an Olympic sport.
Despite the fact that everyone struggles with something and no one is perfect, some people rise above their perceived imperfections to create a life that aligns with their skills and desires. Instead of letting their flaws tell them what they can’t do, they accept them as part of themselves and move on.
For others, those imperfections become the reasons they just can’t grab onto the life they crave.
So, what makes the people that thrive in spite of their flaws different from those that use their weaknesses as excuses?
Not much. Your flaws aren’t more profound or worse than their flaws. The only difference is that they’re not focusing on them and giving them more power than they deserve.
SELF IMAGE ISN’T THE SAME AS PUBLIC IMAGE
You know how the side mirror on your car says: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”?
Well, when you obsess over your flaws or let them define what you can and can’t do, you’re magnifying them beyond proportion.
“Warning: Perceived flaws are smaller than they appear.”
Let me make this perfectly clear for you: You don’t see yourself the way everyone else sees you.
I guarantee that whatever traits you try to hide or obsess over...no one else notices. Even if they do, I promise it doesn’t even register with them.
To bring this point home, I want to share a video with you of an experiment that Dove conducted a few years ago. If you haven’t seen this already, consider it a must-watch (and even if you have seen it before...watch it again.)
A little background: Dove hired a forensic sketch artist to draw the participants twice - once through her own description of herself and again via the description from someone else. The sketch artist didn't see the participant until after finishing both drawings. The results of the two sketches show how harsh women tend to be on themselves and reveals a wide gap between how they see themselves and how others see them.
All of the imperfections you focus on may not be tied up in your appearance, but the theory still holds true.
HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF, FLAWS AND ALL
So, how do you embrace your flaws and love yourself in spite of them?
Short answer: it requires you to change your mindset and be open to the idea of unconditionally loving yourself.
Take a moment and think of a dear friend whom you adore. Is she perfect? You know she’s not, but you love her anyway, and her imperfections have no impact on your feelings for her.
Seems easy enough, right? She’s amazing and you love her as she is in spite of her imperfections!
That, my dear, is the mindset you have to create for yourself.
Here are a few tips to help you shift your mind to that place:
Reframe those flaws - try to see how your flaws benefit and serve you. You may not think that’s possible, but I promise, if you think hard enough, you will come up with something.
Let go of the need for perfection - Perfection is a mask for fear and insecurity. Let go of the need to be perfect. You’re not, and that’s 100% okay. In fact, that’s normal, so embrace it.
Let go of judgment - Judgment is someone else’s projection of their own insecurities. So, if someone else is judging you, it’s not about you. Also, stop judging other people. You can’t release your insecurities if you’re judging others for the same flaws. Plus, when you judge less, you care less about others judging you. #winwin
Focus on the characteristics or features that you do like - Just like no one is perfect and everyone has flaws, everyone has strengths and areas where they excel. Notice them and celebrate them. Put the energy you typically direct on your not-so-great qualities and apply it to your amazing qualities.
Remind yourself of your past successes - When you focus on what you’ve accomplished, there’s no room to focus on your shortcomings. Celebrate the wins, learn from the losses, and grow from both.
Remove toxic people from your life - If you have people in your life that point out your flaws or try to make you feel bad because of them, it’s time to clean house and sweep them out with the trash. No one should make you feel small, inferior, or bad about who you are, so if they exist in your life, it’s time to give them notice and send them on their way.
Stop believing every thought you have - Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true, or that you have to believe it. It’s like meditating, just witness the thought and let it float past.
I’m not going to deceive you...when it comes to modifying your mindset, it isn’t a switch that you can just flip. It takes noticing your thoughts and consciously changing them. It takes time, but as with any exercise, the more you work that muscle, the stronger it gets.
I used to be my own worst enemy. I remember telling myself that I’d never let anyone else talk to me the way I talked to myself. Nothing was ever good enough, and at times, I didn’t even like looking at myself in the mirror.
But, after getting sick and tired of feeling that way after years of bullying myself, I finally did the work to change how I viewed myself and how I treated myself.
Now...I rarely say anything negative about myself, and when I do, I catch it and examine what’s going on in my life that leads me to lean onto that old crutch.
Having transitioned from someone that was hyper-critical of myself to someone that is more compassionate and loving towards myself, my life has transformed.
I take bigger risks; I set personal boundaries, I value myself and my space; I’m more intentional in my life, and I use my flaws as a means to grow, learn, and improve.
But, the biggest change that has come with embracing myself and loving myself in spite of my flaws is ease. I removed a giant weight off of my shoulders, and I feel lighter and life just feels better. I’m not constantly struggling with myself, I’m just living and enjoying the ride.