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How to accept yourself as you are right now

By Michelle May, M.D.

Do you know how to accept yourself as you are right now? Or what gets in the way of self-acceptance?

accept-yourself-as-you-are-right-nowIn my last post, you learned that awareness of your self-talk is the first step to self-acceptance. Becoming noticing your habits of self-criticism, judging, comparing, and obsessing over what you eat and how much you exercise helps us recognize this futile, painful pattern.

And surprisingly, that is the first step to changing those patterns.

Why it’s hard to accept yourself as you are

If you are like most people, the most challenging step is to accept yourself as you are right now, imperfections and all.

You expect yourself to change first so you can accept yourself. But it doesn’t work that way!

There is a little voice that says When I _______, then I’ll be good enough. Here are just a few of the reasons we struggle with this:

  • Unworthiness: The belief that “I am not good enough and therefore I must change.”
  • Perfectionism: Constantly striving to achieve unrealistic goals and the unattainable ideal.
  • Comparison: Judging yourself against others such as celebrities, models, photo-shopped advertising, a naturally thin friend, or even yourself when you were younger.
  • Fear: If I accept myself as I am today, I won’t change.

It may be helpful to think about whether you would subject a child or a good friend to these standards. When you look at each of these reasons with this fresh perspective, you begin to see how harshly you treat yourself.

Accept yourself, faults and all.

Despite all the reasons it’s hard to accept yourself as you are, here’s the truth:

  • Unworthiness: Every person is inherently deserving of love and acceptance as they are.
  • Perfection: No one is perfect (few are even close), yet our lives slip by while we try to achieve this impossible standard.
  • Comparison: It is unfair to you—and to others—to assume you know anything about a person’s life by looking at them (or a photo). Life is not a competition.
  • Fear: Acceptance is the starting line for change. When you accept yourself unconditionally, you create the circumstances necessary for change. After all, you only care for those things you care about.

Accept yourself unconditionally first—no strings attached

Accept who you are and where you are right now, including your perceived faults. Certainly there may be some things you wish to change but it’s important to accept yourself unconditionally first—no strings attached. By accepting yourself, imperfections and all, you’ll begin to appreciate your own uniqueness and respect your experiences, your body, and yourself.

Then practice. Remember, what you practice, you get good at. Repeat this step over and over again, no matter how many times it takes, until it is your habit to accept yourself as you are.

Join the conversation by sharing your comments below:

What thoughts or beliefs about yourself do you need to let go of to accept yourself as you are now?

I invite you to continue on this six-step journey to self-acceptance with us so you can create a new habit and truly “love the one you’re with!”

Ready for what’s next? Self-Acceptance Step 3: Get to Know Yourself Better

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

Guilt vs. Regret

Don’t stop emotional eating! Embrace it instead

What to do when you eat too much

This article was updated from a previous version.
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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.
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