How to Embrace Your Flaws

Three Parts:Building a Realistic Self-ImagePracticing Total Self-AcceptanceMoving Forward

The whole concept of a personal "flaw" is flawed. A "flaw" is an imperfection, and there is no perfect human, so no human can be flawed. However, there may be aspects of your personality, your ability, or your habits that cause you distress under certain conditions. Learn to understand and love your whole self, and start calling those "flaws" by a different name.

Part 1
Building a Realistic Self-Image

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    Rename your flaws. Avoid calling your flaws "flaws." Instead, see them as characteristics, rather than judging them harshly. Instead, see them as "quirks", "habits" or "something I do."
    • Do not label your characteristics as flaws. You can label yourself as "shy" or "withdrawn"--something that is probably bad. Or, you can simply think of yourself as a person who takes a while to warm up to new people -- which is totally normal.
    • Use language that is loving and detailed rather than vague and judgmental. Look in the mirror everyday and say, "I really love myself." Literally say it out loud. Get on top of a high building and shout "I'm proud of myself." Say, for example, your flaw was being extremely ugly. If so, get on top of your roof and shout, "I'm ugly and I'm proud." People will respect you for your newfound bravery.
    • Is it a "quirk"? A relatively harmless flaw may not really need "fixing"; you just may need to learn to work with your differences.
    • Is it something that is sometimes useful? Some characteristics are sometimes a good thing, but sometimes a bad thing. That is not a flaw; it is just something that you have to work on to know when to use it, and when you have to approach things a different way. For example:
    • Stubbornness can be Determined. A stubborn person may be steadfast at the wrong time, and that may get problematic. But being steadfast about the right things can be a real gift.
    • Perfectionism sometimes is perfect. Perfectionists run into trouble when they try to make an imperfect world fit to exacting standards and get upset when the world will not cooperate. But surgeons, Olympic athletes, and engineers thrive in jobs where perfection is the goal.
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    Make a list of all your strengths and abilities. Include everything that occurs to you. Do not eliminate any quality because you think it might be redundant or unexceptional. List things like patience, kindness, bravery, determination, taste, intelligence, or loyalty. Sometimes there is so much focus on flaws, that the strengths a person possess get lost. Having a comprehensive self image will help you take a more balanced view of yourself.[1]
    • If you are feeling too down on yourself to make a list, free write for a while first.
    • Also get ideas from friends and family. Sometimes others see good things in us that we do not always acknowledge in ourselves. And often these qualities are not said enough.
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    List things you are proud of. List accomplishments such as achieved goals, moments you surprised yourself, and hard times you survived. You can be proud of recovering from a hard situation, being present for someone who was in a hard time, completing projects at work or in school, or things you have learned. Write down your masteries, the things you have learned to do well.[2]
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    List and become aware of your unique tendencies or needs. Writing freely, list the things you do that you don't feel good about. List things about yourself that you wish would change. Be as specific as possible. For example, instead of writing "The way I look," write "I don't like it when my skin breaks out." If you are writing about an incident, put it in as much context as possible.
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    Think about past experiences. Ask yourself how you got your habits and way of being. Are they cultural? Familial? Biological? When do they happen? Were you criticized by others? Have you absorbed messages from companies trying to prey on your insecurities to sell you something? If you say things you later regret, ask yourself if this is a lack of tact you learned from your family, or if it is your reaction to awkward situations.[3]
    • If you spend too much money, ask yourself what triggers these incidents, how you first started spending money, and what you hope for when you are spending.
    • The more you can understand these past behaviors, the more likely you can forgive yourself for them.[4]
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    Reframe your thoughts.[5] What made you consider each of these things as "flaws"? Do these qualities have positive sides? Look at your list of strengths and ask yourself if any of the strengths listed are also connected to the qualities you viewed as "flaws."[6] Start to think about your characteristics in a positive way.[7]
    • Maybe you feel that you are too emotional. Reframe this thought to remind yourself that your emotionality is the reason why you have strong empathy skills to comfort others during hard times, and why people seek you out for care and assistance.
    • Or perhaps you feel that you are too excitable, but that may tie into your incredible creativity.
    • Positive reframing will not change these qualities, but it can give you a healthy change in perspective that will help you accept yourself.[8]

Part 2
Practicing Total Self-Acceptance

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    Avoid self-criticism. Treat yourself with loving compassion and respect. Instead of telling yourself off, speak to yourself calmly. When negative thoughts and feelings come to you, name them. Say "This is the I'm-too-fat thought," or, "Ah, here comes the 'everyone here knows more than me' thought."[9]
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    Accept affirmation from others. When you are praised, say "Thank you." If a compliment is innocent and sincere, it is impolite to reject it. To reject a compliment means missing out on the chance for a positive connection with another, and a positive affirmation for yourself. Let your friends and family affirm you.
    • If you are feeling truly down on yourself, you can ask someone you love to tell you something they like about you. Go ahead and return the compliment.
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    Notice if someone is trying to put you down. Some cruelty comes disguised as kindness. Do you have a friend who is always pointing out your shortcomings? Does anyone in your life make fun of you or criticize you in public or in private? When you are proud of something, does anyone try to take you down a notch by acting nonplussed or condescending?
    • Try to eliminate these people from your life or spend as little time with them as possible.[10]
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    Love it before you improve it. Accept the state you are in before you try making radical changes. If you try to fix yourself without acknowledging your inherent value and loveliness first, you may cause yourself harm. Improving yourself can be fruitful, but you have to love yourself first. Treat yourself like a flourishing garden that needs watering, pruning, planting, and general upkeep: not flood or fire.[11]
    • If you would like to do better in school, first tell yourself "I am intelligent, hard working, and I have dreams and ambitions. I am capable of doing the work I have set out to do."
    • Do this instead of saying, for example, "I'm too stupid and lazy and I failed my last exam and I will fail the next one."
    • Once you have a positive framework, you can work on your plan of action.
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    Re-frame how you view self-improvement. When there is something you want to work on, you are not eliminating or hiding a flaw of yours; rather, you are learning new skills.
    • Instead of "I'm going to stop talking so much," tell yourself "I'm going to learn how to listen better."
    • Instead of "I'm going to stop being so judgmental," try "I'm going to work harder on understanding and accepting perspectives and lifestyles different from my own."
    • Instead of "I'm going to lose weight," try "I'm going to work on taking better care of my body by exercising more, eating better, and reducing stress."
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    Recognize unrealistic standards. There are a lot of images, beliefs, and ideas that one encounters in the world that may not be realistic to hold yourself or others up to. These may come from the media, from organizations like schools, or held by family and friends. If you find yourself unhappy with some aspect of yourself, you may have to confront these ideas. For example:
    • Looking like a supermodel. Only a very tiny percentage of people can come anywhere close to looking like an actor, model, or the like. Most people are not born gorgeous, thin, and whatever the "in" look is at the moment. Even then, they usually have a whole team of make-up artists, personal trainers, designers, and graphic artists to produce this image. Being less than this is not a flaw—you are just normal, which is just fine. If you are holding yourself up to a standard that is unrealistic, of course you will be unhappy.
    • Being a perfect student. Most of education is focused on mathematics, science, and literacy. And while these are important, not everyone has these as strengths. Even brilliant people will flunk a quiz or forget a deadline occasionally. School, unfortunately, does not typically grade how good a friend you are, your artistic abilities, or how athletic you are, your ability to work hard, or your keen sense of adventure. Not being a great student is not necessarily a flaw—your strengths may simply lie elsewhere. You can be a successful adult without necessarily being a straight-A student.
    • Not as "high achieving" as other family members. You may be made to feel flawed if you just do not share a family trait that is prized by family members. But you may not be flawed; you are just different. Although a well-balanced, loving family may embrace this, it can be hard to be who you are if you just are not like the others. This may include:
      • Athletic ability/ interest
      • Intellect
      • Political leanings.
      • Faith
      • Interest in family business
      • Artistry

Part 3
Moving Forward

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    Know the difference between self-improvement and self-acceptance. Embracing your whole self, good and bad, does not mean you cannot commit yourself to personal growth.It simply means that you accept yourself--not just the good or the bad--but your whole self. You are who you are and that is OK, flaws and all. [12] Self-acceptance means you accept yourself as you are in this moment, imperfect and unique, with no conditions.
    • If you keep thinking, "I can accept myself if I just stop eating so much and lose weight," then you are placing a condition on your self-acceptance that can always be disrupted.[13] Feel free to pursue self-improvement, making yourself more effective or stronger, but never make that a condition of your self-acceptance.
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    Learn how to ask for help. It's natural to struggle or feel down about yourself sometimes. One of the ways to make things better is to talk about your feelings and ask the people around you for support. You don't have to be alone, and you deserve help.
    • If you are having a hard time at school or work, talk to someone. They can provide a sympathetic ear and help you figure out how to make things better.
    • If you often feel very negatively towards yourself, consider asking a doctor to screen you for issues such as anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder. It can get better, and getting help is the first step.
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    See yourself as a work in progress. Time and experience allows for opportunities to work on flaws. It usually takes time and making lots of mistakes to mature and develop, and it can take years. Have patience with yourself. Demanding flaws get resolved easily and quickly will lead to disappointment, because humans grow and develop and learn over an entire lifetime. For example:
    • The hothead teen grows into a responsible adult.
    • The 3rd grade child who was a poor student turns his grades around when he learns some new study skills.
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    Find support groups. Support groups are available for a myriad of causes: from self-esteem building to eating disorder recovery. Consider looking up local support groups or finding positive online spaces if there is a particular thing you struggle with. The group can help you understand and accept your traits, and feel less alone.
    • There are many groups oriented towards various minorities. From Health At Every Size to Autistic culture to, there are communities you can find that will support your self-esteem and help you cope.
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    Hang out with positive people. Choose to spend time with people who help you feel good about yourself. Limit your contact with people who make you feel worse. It's important to spend time with people who lift you up and make you happier.
    • Take initiative and ask people to hang out with you. Invite them to take a walk with you, come over to chat, or make plans with them.
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    Work on forgiveness. As much as we might like to, we cannot change the past. Ruminating on past mistakes, whether they were a result of a decision you made or because you behaved in a certain way.[14] All you can do is acknowledge the mistake and try to learn and grow from it.
    • If you cannot stop fixating on a mistake, say to yourself, "I made the best decision with the information (or abilities) that I had at the time."[15] And now, with that mistake behind you, you have new information when making future decisions.


  • Some "flaws" are actually symptoms of a disability, such as autism, dyslexia, or ADHD. If you have a lot of quirks that make you stand out, it may be worth doing some research and talking to a doctor. Diagnosing your disability can help you get help, understand yourself better, and connect with a supportive disability community.

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