How to Like Yourself

Five Parts:Quieting Your Inner CriticBuilding Your Self-EsteemChanging How You View YourselfInteracting with OthersGetting Help

One of the most difficult things we can do is learn to like ourselves. This is especially true if we have not been able to achieve this before. It is a difficult thought pattern to establish, but it can be done. Our thoughts affect our emotions and our emotions affect our behavior.[1] By changing your thought patterns and retraining yourself to think positively, you will start feeling better. It takes a bit of practice and work to get there, but it’s worth it. Liking yourself is one of the main keys to living a more fulfilling and happier life.

Part 1
Quieting Your Inner Critic

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    Pay attention to your thoughts. Cognitive behavioral therapy practitioners believe that we have the ability to change our behavior by changing our thoughts. Thoughts are the catalyst that lead to behaviors.
    • For example, if you think you are a loser and can’t do anything right, you will feel hopeless because you don’t believe you can change the way you feel. Thinking this way will leave you stuck at the place where you give in to the negative thought pattern. Your actual behavior will be so affected that you can become depressed and disinterested in many aspects of life. In effect, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have taken on the negative posture and behavior that your thoughts have led you to become.
    • The first step in controlling your thoughts is awareness. When you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself, ask yourself these questions:
      • Is this a kind thing to say?
      • Does this statement make me feel good?
      • Is this something I’d say to someone else?
      • If these answers are no, then you are thinking negatively. By recognizing these instances, you will be able to start reframing these statements into positive statements about yourself.
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    Keep a thought journal. Pay attention to the critical voice in your head. That voice has been telling you negative things for years. That voice has prevented you from living your life to the fullest. Notice when you hear that voice telling you bad things about yourself.
    • Take a few minutes every day to recall times when you thought something negative about yourself.
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    Make a list of your positive attributes. Think of examples of your skills, positive attributes, qualities that people admire, and so on. Include compliments that you’ve received from others.
    • This list can encompass anything. For example, you might include that you’re really good with animals or you can make a fantastic chicken pot pie. This list will serve as a reminder that you have accomplished things and that you do certain things well.
    • Refer to this list on a regular basis to improve your self-outlook.[2]
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    Quiet your inner critic by focusing on the positive. When you hear the voice in your head tell you that you’re worthless, take a pause and substitute the negative for something positive. Refer to your list of positive attributes if you need to.
    • For example, if your mind keeps telling you that you’re worthless, you can say, “I have many friends who think that I am worth knowing. I have a lot to contribute.”
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    Have your own mantra. A mantra is a message that you repeat to yourself to help you think positively. Make up a chant that you can do either out loud or in your head.
    • For example, tell yourself: “I am a worthwhile and likable member of this family.”
    • Write down your mantra and post it on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.
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    Don’t give up. You may experience some days when you feel defeated by your own actions. Keep telling yourself that you are worthy of love. It’s all about changing your mantra.
    • When you wake up each morning, take a few moments to appreciate yourself. Give yourself a pep talk to highlight your good points.

Part 2
Building Your Self-Esteem

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    Acknowledge your love of life. Tell yourself that you love life and that you are enjoying the journey you are taking. Even if your road is bumpy, you are managing to negotiate the rough spots. You’re still here to tell others that you got through to where you are today.
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    Find the positive side of life’s challenges. Keep moving forward and don’t focus on how difficult life can be. Think about the ways you’ve overcome challenges and become a better person because of them.[3]
    • For example, if you’re mad that you were laid off, think about how you have been able to spend valuable time with your children.
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    Track your progress. No matter the size of the accomplishment, keep track of the progress you’re making. Look for accomplishments you have made to get you this far and let your past success propel you forward.
    • It might help to write down your accomplishments. Then you can compare your new accomplishments to older ones and recognize how far along you’ve come.
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    Stand up for yourself. Make sure others give you the respect you deserve. Don’t let others disrespect you or speak badly of you. Stand up for yourself, just as you’d stand up for a good friend who is being disrespected.
    • Don’t put yourself down, especially in front of other people. If people hear you talking badly about yourself, they may think this is an acceptable way to treat you.
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    Give yourself support. Look for instances where you need support and give it to yourself. Pat yourself on the back when you’ve done something well. Treat yourself kindly when you are learning something new and need encouragement to go forward.
    • This is a good time to repeat your mantra, or adapt your mantra to a new situation.
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    Learn to be comfortable alone. When you learn to be happy by yourself, you'll find that you end up feeling more at ease with yourself. In uncomfortable situations, which may have previously left you feeling lonely or embarrassed, you’ll be more likely to be at ease.
    • If you’re by yourself, don’t pull out your phone and start texting. Instead, pay attention to your surroundings. Do a simple activity like drinking a cup of tea and feeling present.
    • If you're out and about (at a coffee shop, or at a party), remind yourself that your worth is not based on who, or how many folks, interact with you.
    • This is also true if you are not in a relationship. Don’t define your worth based on whether you're single or not. You are a good companion for yourself.
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    Learn a new skill. Learning to do something new is a fantastic way to help you learn to like yourself and build self-esteem. When you put yourself in a new situation, you may be outside your comfort zone. But you will also be able to acknowledge what you can accomplish. This can be an excellent self-esteem booster.[4]
    • Look around in your community for free workshops. Most communities offer all kinds of classes, from cooking classes to glass blowing tutorials. Check the flyers at your local library, or peruse your community's events calendar.
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    Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few moments once a week to write down things you’re grateful for. A gratitude journal can help you remember what you have in your life.[5]
    • Savor and ponder the things you write about. Just going through the motions of writing things down won’t make you feel more grateful. Instead, spend a bit of time remembering the moment or feeling.
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    Pamper yourself. If you’re having a bad day, or a day where your self-doubt has hit a high, give yourself a nice treat. Eat that amazing chocolate cake from your favorite coffee shop, or simply relax in a nice, hot bath.
    • This will let you take a time-out from your worries and the stresses that are causing your doubt. Once you've recharged, you can jump back into life feeling more relaxed.
    • Pampering yourself is also important because it reminds you of the importance of your time and of your health. When you take a break, you are putting yourself first, instead of work, your significant other, your friends, family, school, etc.).
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    Find laughter in your life. Laughter has great long-term and short-term benefits that can help you in the process of learning to like yourself. In the short term, laughter can increase the endorphins in your brain, cool down your stress response, and stimulate circulation to help reduce stress. In the long term, laughter can make it easier to cope with difficult situations, relate to others, and improve your mood.[6]
    • Get together with a long-friend and reminisce about hilarious events that you both experienced.
    • Watch a funny movie or read a funny book. Just find a few moments in your day to have a good laugh.
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    Take care of yourself. Make sure to treat your body well. This will help you find value in yourself and, consequently, like yourself better.
    • Make sure to eat right. Having a healthy diet will make you feel better inside and out. Try to avoid processed and friend foods. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains.
    • Get enough sleep. Quality sleep is necessary for your body to function properly and to feel good. Sleep boosts your immune system, and helps alleviate depression and illness. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
    • Drink plenty of water. Your body needs a lot of water to function properly and dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and limited mental faculties. Women should get 72 ounces of fluids per day, and men should get about 104 ounces of fluids per day.[7]
    • Exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain. These chemicals boost your mood and make you feel good, which in turn can help you like yourself more. Likewise, exercise helps keep you healthy. [8]

Part 3
Changing How You View Yourself

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    Don’t allow fear to overcome you. Fear can paralyze you and keep you from taking an active part in your life[9]. Some of us will do anything to not challenge our negative view of ourselves. This happens because for some reason we’re afraid to act against those thoughts. It could be that we are invested in staying stuck. Growth is painful. Even though a life without growth is stagnant, it is something the individual has become familiar with. It’s like wearing a pair of old, beat up shoes. They’re not very pretty, but they are something you feel comfortable with. And believe it or not, even a negative self-concept can be comfortable for some of us because it doesn’t involve change.
    • Perhaps the best example of fear paralyzing people is found when we ask why battered women stay in abusive relationships. [10] The fear actually keeps them from acting in the own best interests. The emotional dependence they have on their batterer is what prevents them from leaving a situation where their very lives may be at risk.
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    Forgive yourself. There may be things in your past that you’re not proud of. Some of these things may actually make you dislike yourself. Once you acknowledge that you were doing the best you could under the circumstances, even some of the most harmful behavior and heinous acts can be forgiven. By holding on to the negative thoughts revolving around bad behaviors, you are not allowing yourself to grow and move past these events.
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    Become your own best friend. Think about how you’d speak to a friend who had difficulty liking herself. Would you reinforce the negative thoughts? Or would you focus on some of her strengths? Point out to yourself the reasons why you are a likeable and lovable person.[11]
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    Start accepting yourself. Believe what others are saying about you. They’re not just trying to make you feel good. They genuinely like you. Start looking at yourself through their eyes. This may quiet the inner critic so that you can begin liking yourself as others do.[12]
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    Start small with one change at a time. Know that you can start small. Another reason some are afraid to change is that they think of they change one thing about themselves they will have to change everything. They are afraid that the floodgates will open and they will not be able to continue in the life they’ve been living because they must make monumental changes in order to be happy.
    • Start with small changes like smiling at one stranger every day, or repeating a positive mantra to yourself, or getting more sleep every night. Making small steps one at a time can be less overwhelming than trying to make drastic and massive changes all at once.
    • With these small steps, you might be taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Getting outside your comfort zone is something that will happen to you a lot in your life. If you can control certain instances of it, for practice, you'll find that you're better able to feel confident in yourself and your own abilities when life throws you a curveball.
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    Be patient. Remember that you are trying to undo a lifetime of negative thinking. It’s not going to happen overnight, but with the right approach you can begin to like yourself. You must be willing to confront the inner critic that has been preventing you from liking yourself. You must be able to forgive all the wrongdoing you believe you’ve committed in the past. You must begin to look for your lovable qualities and remind yourself that others see the value in you. This will lead to your accepting yourself as a lovable and likeable person.
    • Have trust in yourself. You are a survivor and you will do whatever it is that you need to do to improve your quality of life. If nothing else, you survived your difficult past. That takes a certain amount of strength and perseverance that not everybody has. Build on the strengths you have shown to get this far in your life.

Part 4
Interacting with Others

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    Try smiling at other people. When you come into contact with others, give a smile. A smile will make you feel good. Plus, it will brighten the moment for anyone in your range. Chances are that others will smile back at you, and you will immediately feel their approval coming back at you. You will soon believe that you are significant as a human being.
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    Treat others with respect. Give people the respect that you would like to receive yourself. This will help you treat yourself with respect as well.[13] This involves being kind and allow for differences.[14] Some ways to demonstrate respect for others include:
    • Don’t insult others.
    • Listen when someone else is talking.
    • Don’t tease others.
    • Be sensitive about someone else’s feelings.
    • Do not stereotype people.
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    Help others. A key quality that makes people likeable is how they treat others. When you are caring and kind toward others, you are more likely to act this way toward yourself. Try to help others when you anticipate a need.[15]
    • For example, your help can be an act as small as holding the door open for someone at the bank. Or, it can be something as large as volunteering a Saturday to help an elderly neighbor in need of yard work.
    • This is not to say that you have to help every single person. Remember that you have to treat yourself as well as you treat other people, which means respecting your own boundaries.

Part 5
Getting Help

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    Visit a therapist. A mental health professional can help you work through some of your confidence issues so that you will like yourself. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a good strategy to help you reframe your thoughts and behaviors.[16] CBT can help you identify certain patterns that might prevent you from liking yourself or using good judgement to do things that you’re proud of.
    • Don’t be afraid to look at old wounds. In order to feel good about oneself, we need to understand what’s holding us back. The healing process isn’t complete until you are willing to face some difficult emotions you may be stuck in. Only by examining these events will you be able to move through them. When we have the courage to pry off an old scab, there is often new growth underneath. This new growth can lead you away from negative thoughts about yourself and help you face a more positive future.
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    Develop a support system. When you have people around you who think positively about you, you will start to internalize those messages. Surround yourself with positive people who support you and your activities.
    • This also means that you should spend less time with people who treat you poorly or disrespectfully. If you have to spend time with these people, such as a work colleague or supervisor, then you will need to learn how to communicate assertively with them. You can let them know that their comments are unwelcome.
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    Find a mentor. You might think about finding someone in your work life, or in a circle of acquaintances, who can act as a mentor for you. This person may be able to help you overcome certain challenges that you face in one area of life.[17]
    • For example, if you find a mentor at work, this person might tell you how she overcame her own personal challenges to become confident in her job. Hearing someone else’s story can give you a little room to be kind and generous to yourself.


  • You won't love yourself instantly, especially if you've spent a long time hating or being uncomfortable with yourself. So cut yourself a break if you're having difficulties.

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