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Notice your self-talk: The first step to self-acceptance

By Michelle May, M.D.

Do you struggle with how to accept yourself as you are? The first step is simple, though not easy: Notice your self-talk.

Self-acceptance begins when you notice your self-talk

Notice-your-self-talkMy yoga teacher said, “Whatever you practice, you get good at. If your habit is to compare, judge, and criticize yourself, then you’ll get better and better at it. You will strengthen your habit.

That really resonated with me. I had subjected myself to 25 years of yo-yo dieting fueled by rejection of my Self. And I barely noticed I was doing it.

Wishing I were somehow different and focusing on numbers like calories and pounds only distracted me from living my life fully. It took away my peace of mind and my focus. When I started practicing mindful eating, everything changed.

Unfortunately, many of us have been convinced that the only way to be healthy is to focus on the numbers. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that we deserve a life focused on what we eat and what we look like instead of living our lives. And when we don’t measure up, we say some really terrible things to ourselves.

Improving your well-being doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way!

We waste a tremendous amount of energy beating ourselves up—energy that could otherwise be poured into building relationships, accomplishing other meaningful goals, or simply enjoying life.

The problem is that it is such a habit, we don’t even notice we’re doing it!

I am so over that.

Along my personal and professional journey, I’ve learned that self-acceptance breeds self-care. When you begin to notice your self-talk that is harming you and keeping you stuck in old behaviors, you can practice more gentle self-talk.

While it may seem counterintuitive, I also discovered that self-acceptance is the starting line for change. Only when you learn how to accept yourself as you are right now can you being to make choices that support the life you crave!

Now I choose to practice loving my Self gently, compassionately, mindfully, and persistently.

Learn how to accept yourself

Do you love the one you spend the most time with? Want to learn how?

Please join me on this six-step journey to learn how to accept yourself as you are and create a new habit to truly “love the one you’re with!”

Today, start by increasing your awareness and noticing your self-talk. Share what you notice in the comments below:

Is your habit to compare, judge, and criticize yourself? Do you struggle with loving—or even accepting yourself—as you are? Why? How do you feel and and what happens when you talk to yourself this way?

Ready for the next step? Self-Acceptance Step 2: Accept yourself as you are right now

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

Fear of Self-Acceptance

A Compassionate Response to Emotional Eating

You are NOT powerless over food!

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.


  1. Gretchen Glaser says:

    I am so excited about this!

  2. This is literally an answer to prayer.

  3. Paula says:

    I do struggle with self acceptance. I never feel good enough. But what is “good enough”? It isn’t measurable. Good enough to me would be “self acceptance”. What a relief to read this article. I have spent 40 years feeling not good enough. I was always bargaining with my self in many areas of life, but mostly in the food area. I want to learn how to love myself. I do believe that I need to love and accept myself before I feel worthy of change. How can a person change something they don’t care about? The sentence in Michelle’s article that stood out most ( I could relate to all of it actually) was:
    “I’ve learned that self-acceptance breeds self-care” It’s funny how I’ve been backwards all these years, by thoughts like: “I’ll love myself after I’ve lost 50lbs” or I’ll be worthy after I lose weight. I need to reverse it and say I am fine the way I am and I want to take care of my self! Also, it helps me if I don’t judge others by their weight. Either big or small I don’t know what their journey is about. Not judging others also helps me to not judge myself.

  4. Mary Forgays says:

    I do judge and criticize myself continuely. I’m not sure why because I pride myself in giving other people the benefit of the doubt. I look forward to learning self acceptance and redirecting my thoughts to creative and meaningful pursuits.

  5. BG says:

    It’s so strange to realize that I have this small state of self acceptance each day at meditation, where I feel calm and all is well, and the dream of weight-loss is clear…and then I go off into the day and operate with habitual eating behaviors and less self-acceptance, in the inner dialogue (speaking like I have never to another soul!) I pick at the details of my imperfect acts. If only I could expand and grow the opening from meditation and have that be the goal, even over weight loss and living up to my idealistic standards for myself! Thanks for the insights this has prompted!

    • BG, the feeling of being calm and open is a wonderful intention! Perhaps the reason a “dream of weight-loss” isn’t inspiring change in your behavior is that it fundamentally requires you to reject your current self.

      If that resonates for you, could you practice accepting yourself as you are right now and eating and moving in a way that cares for the person you are right now – instead of for the purpose of becoming something different?

      I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

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