How to love and accept yourself

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Learning to love and accept yourself is the foundation of confidence and self-esteem     

I’m going to explain some reasons why you are worthy of love and acceptance, why it matters that you believe it, and then I’ll share three simple tips to help you begin to believe that you’re worthy of love and acceptance.

The value of a human soul     

How is self-worth determined?  Many of us use external factors like:  wealth, status, accomplishments, popularity, or other people’s opinions to determine whether or not we have value, and whether or not we are lovable/likable.  However, the truth is that the value of a human soul is intrinsic.  Intrinsic means “belonging to a thing by its very nature.”  It comes from the Latin word intrinsecus which means interior or inner.  Some synonyms for intrinsic include: inherent, innate, inborn, natural, built-in, inseparable, permanent, indelible, ineradicable, integral, and fundamental.

Let me repeat, the value of a human soul is intrinsic; it comes from the inside.  You have infinite worth simply because you exist.  It is your birthright.  It doesn’t need to be earned or verified, and it is completely independent of any external factors.  Deep down inside, you know that already.  There are a few moments in the lifespan of a person that we reflexively respond to that knowledge.  One is when a baby is born.  The love that parents feel for their infant child is beyond their ability to express.  Does that baby have value and worth?  Oh yes!  Is that baby lovable/likable?  Oh yes!  What did the baby do to earn that worth and that lovability?  Absolutely nothing.  They possess those qualities simply by existing.  Do those qualities of worth and lovability diminish over time?  No.

Another moment in time where we are reminded of the intrinsic value of a human soul, is when a life is taken, and we mourn the loss of someone we care about.  Furthermore, the laws of the land reserve the harshest punishments for those who take another person’s life by force. In the courtroom, they do not examine the victim’s wealth, status, accomplishments or popularity in order to evaluate the worth of that person and determine the punishment of the offender.  A life is a life, and each life has intrinsic value.  Our worth and value are inborn, natural, built-in, inseparable, and permanent.

What we believe matters more than what is true

We have intrinsic value, that’s a fact, but just because something is true doesn’t mean we believe it. Even though we have inherent worth and lovability as our birthright, we may have been told by others, or even by ourselves, so many times that we’re worthless, or that we have to do something to earn and prove our value and lovability that we believe it.  And in this case, what we believe is more important than what is actually true.

Researcher Brene Brown came to a similar conclusion after her six-year study on what causes shame.   She wanted to know why some people enjoy love and belonging while others are always wondering if they’re good enough.  She found that it all comes down to one single variable:  a person’s belief of whether or not they’re worthy.

“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.”

Brene Brown

How do I learn to love and accept myself? 

Truth is truth whether or not you believe it.  We have shown that you have intrinsic value, and we can logically prove that you are good enough; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you believe it.  If you already believe that you’re good enough, and that you’re worthy of love and belonging, that’s awesome; but if you don’t, then let’s do something about it.  I’ll share three tools to help you begin to believe in your own intrinsic, inherent value and worth:  repetition, journaling, and an “I am” poster.

The power of repetition

One way to begin to believe the truth that you have value, and are worthy of love and belonging is through the power of repetition.  We can create positive statements about ourselves, and repeat them over and over, to create a new healthier positive belief system.

You may have heard the idea that if you hear something enough times you begin to believe it, and research shows that is absolutely true.  We are more likely to believe things that we hear over and over again, just because we heard it over and over again, and it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.  We believe things because they are familiar.  Scientists call this phenomenon the “mere exposure effect,” and it’s baffling because it has nothing to do with truth, reason, or logic.  This is one reason why it’s so dangerous to have circulating thoughts and statements like, “I’m not good enough,” or, “I don’t fit in.”  If you repeat those thoughts and those statements often enough, you begin to believe them, even when they’re not true.  Furthermore, a child who has been told over and over again that they can’t do something, or that they’re stupid, or worthless, or not safe, or not good enough, will accept these familiar sayings as true.

The flip side of the coin is that once we believe something, whether or not it is true, our subconscious will fight to protect those beliefs by rejecting anything that is unfamiliar or contradicts what we already believe.  Sadly, that means that the child who has grown up with the belief that they’re stupid, or worthless, or not safe, or not good enough, will then fight to defend and support those beliefs their whole life.  That is, unless they go through the conscious effort to change those beliefs.

When thoughts and feelings are repeated over and over, they become familiar, and we believe them to be the only possible truth.  It may seem ironic, but a person may subconsciously believe that feelings of worthlessness, unworthiness, invisibility, or rejection, are more “safe” than feelings of being loved, valued, accepted, and appreciated, because those thoughts and feelings are unfamiliar, and therefore “dangerous.”  People often subconsciously fight to hold onto those hurtful thoughts and beliefs.  They reject thoughts about happiness, positivity, hopefulness, confidence, worthiness, success, or peace, because they contradict what their minds already believe to be true.

The mere exposure effect, make it difficult to feel confident and worthy when you’re stuck in a pattern of feeling worthless and unlovable.  However, there is a difference between difficult and impossible.

If a thought keeps running through your mind like, “I’m not good enough,” replace it with another opposite and positive statement such as, “I am worthy and deserving of being loved, valued and appreciated.  I am loved, valued and appreciated.  I am good enough.”  And repeat that over and over again.  There’s a lot of truth taught in the children’s book “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper.  Repeating, “I think I can, I think I can,” (or whatever positive mantra is applicable) really makes a difference.

It won’t be easy however.  When you say those things your subconscious may tell you that they’re lies.  Studies show that once we believe something, we instinctively defend and protect it without even being aware of it.  But if we keep at it relentlessly and consistently, that power of repetition can retrain our brains to accept those things as true. 

Journaling to increase awareness

One way to increase awareness about your perception of your lovability and self-worth is by looking deeper at your core values and beliefs.  Spend 20-30 minutes writing on one or more of the following prompts:

  • I have inherent value and lovability because…
  • I believe I only have worth and value if …
  • I believe I am only lovable if…
  • My beliefs about my value and lovability came from…
i am poster

“I am” poster

Here’s another tool to help you begin to believe the truth of your own inherent value, it’s called an “I am” poster.  The “I am” poster helps reawaken the truth that our value is intrinsic.  Our true value comes from the inside, rather than from external sources like appearance, wealth, or popularity.

Spend two minutes each morning and again each evening looking at, and pondering about, an “I am” poster, while listening to inspiring instrumental music.  The visual images and words combined in the “I am” poster engages both hemispheres of the brain, and facilitates improvements in reprogramming our patterns of thinking.  Adding background music takes it to a whole new level.

Choose background music like the orchestral film music played in the background of your favorite movie.  This music is commonly known as “epic music.”  Just do a quick search on YouTube and you’ll have numerous playlist choices available in an instant.

The soothing power of music is well established.  Different kinds of music can produce different kinds of emotions, and we can use that to our advantage as well. Some music lets you know that the hero is about to do something, well heroic, and other music lets you know that everything is peaceful and going to turn out okay.  Either of these might be just what you need.  Perhaps you need a boost of confidence and power, or perhaps you’re in the need of a calming reassurance that these new ideas are safe, and that everything is going to be okay.

We have several versions of “I am” posters available to download for free, or you can make your own.  

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