How To Be Yourself: 7 Powerful Steps To Self-Acceptance

Life is complicated; you’re so busy trying to fit in that you lose sight of how to be yourself.  The result is confusion about who you truly are and what you stand for.  And your confidence suffers.

Self-acceptance is about accepting all of you – warts and all. So often, it’s easier to accept our good qualities and characteristics.  And attempt to hide our failings and shortcomings.

When looking at self-acceptance and how to be yourself, there are two things to remember.

  • You are not your actions, behaviour or qualities, and
  • Your flaws and mistakes don’t define you.

Imagine how life-changing it would be if people could see the real you.  For a start, it’s a lot less stressful.

Being authentic when dealing with others can be tricky.

You might feel:

  • Vulnerable
  • Scared
  • Ashamed

What makes it even more complicated is when you’re the one having trouble accepting who you are.

Because often, we don’t always like who we are inside.

So how are you supposed to open up and let people see the real you?

The following 7 steps will help put you on the right path.

How to be yourself needs self-acceptance

We are all a mixture of good and bad characteristics. The first step is to acknowledge this

Who Are You?

You can’t accept who you are if you don’t know who you are. So the first step on your journey to understand how to be yourself is self-reflection.

Take time to figure out the following:

  • What do you like and dislike doing?  Consider both work and pleasure
  • Your characteristics, the good and the bad
  • What makes you happy or sad
  • Your personal qualities – what do you stand for? 

My recommendation is to start by creating a list of two columns. Then, take each topic in turn. Write down the good stuff on the left-hand side and write those things you don’t like in the right-hand column.

Take your time doing this exercise; it’s impossible to complete it in one sitting as things will occur to you over time. So keep your list handy and add to it when you think of something.

For an in-depth analysis, have a look at my course Discover You.  You will be guided through the video training and comprehensive workbook on finding out who you are.

Confront The Hard Stuff

When you start to learn more about yourself, you might not like some of what you see.

Guess what? We all have flaws, and you’re not always going to react in the way you like. But that’s okay. 

"Accepting reality for what it is, does not necessarily mean you like that reality." Positive Psychology

You, like everyone, are a work in progress.  None of us is perfect, but acceptance is not resignation. 

To learn how to be yourself, you’re going to need to do a little work on forgiving yourself for being less than perfect.

Another thing you’ll discover is a desire to weed out some less than likeable traits you’ve hidden from yourself until now.

write it down when you learn how to be yourself

keeping a journal is really helpful when you are working on your development

A great way to deal with this is to write down those things you don’t like about yourself on a sheet of paper.  Get them all out in the open.  You don’t have to share this with anyone else unless you want to.  But when you confront the hard stuff, you can begin to make changes.  Trust me, you will like yourself better for it.

For example, one of your less likeable characteristics might be jealousy.  You might be envious of someone at work who seems to be doing better than you.  Get the green-eyed monster off your back. Try to think of all the good things you admire about them. 

You don’t have to like them, but don’t be blinded to the good qualities they show. Instead, make an effort to understand them better and congratulate them when they do something well.  You will undoubtedly learn more about yourself in the process.

Acknowledge You Haven’t Been Honest

Some of this might sting, but here goes. You’ve probably been lying to yourself for years.  You may even have created a persona that you believe will be more acceptable to those around you. 

At the beginning of this article, I spoke about the need to fit in – we are social animals, after all.  You might pretend to like something you don’t just to have a quiet life or hang around people that are not really your type.  All because you think it will benefit your career.

Until you did this work, you probably hid some aspects of yourself from yourself and those around you. It’s time to own up. You’re never going to reach self-acceptance if you can’t admit where you’ve been lying.

Forgive yourself and move on.

Take Responsibility for the Fallout

As you progress through understanding how to be yourself, not everyone will be pleased with the new and more authentic you.

Some people might even be annoyed that you kept the real you hidden for so long.  Or they might resist the changes you hope to make.  It’s tough when this involves rethinking who you prefer to be around or the work you would rather do.

Woman Boxer

Not everybody will be comfortable with who you are becoming, you will need to stay strong

You might even be mad at yourself for not being honest before now.

There’s going to have to be some apologies made. In the case of self-recrimination, once again, you’ll need to forgive yourself before you can move on.

Be Courageous And Let Go Of Fear

When you’ve come to discover how to be yourself, you’re faced with unknown territory.  You will be outside of your comfort zone.  But that’s okay because when you leave your comfort zone, that’s where the magic begins to happen.

As you start to peel back the onion of your conscious self to discover the real you beneath, there may be a lot of tears.  You’re letting go of a past that doesn’t serve you, and making those changes is challenging.

Time to grab your big girl pants, face the fear and do it anyway.  Courage will be needed.  There will be times you fear you will fall back into old patterns – sometimes it’s easier to default to what you’ve always done – but you won’t be true to yourself or be yourself.

How to be yourself means being kind to yourself

We all make mistakes, but don't let them stand in the way of progress

Be Fair To Yourself

If you find that you mess up and slide back into the old ways, let it go. Don’t beat yourself up forever over this.

We often find it hard to accept mistakes, considering them to be a reflection on ourselves.  But you are not your mistakes.  You just happen to have made a mistake at this time.

Remember, you are a work in progress on how to be yourself.  You won’t magically transform overnight. 

You’ll need time to learn new habits and ways of behaviour that are more congruent to the authentic, confident person you are becoming.

Accept It’s Not Always Going to be Easy

Life is complicated, it’s not easy, and when you are focused on how to be yourself, it might be slow going.

There will be times that you struggle or feel alone.  Consider engaging a coach to help and support you through the transition.  When you have someone to talk to, holding you accountable for what you do will provide an extra boost of courage when you need it.  Others around you might not understand.

Over time though, being honest and authentic with yourself and those around you will get easier.

The results are worth it.

You will feel

  • Happier
  • More confident
  • And know what you want out of life.

Do You Know What You Want?  discover what's most important to you

To build self-confidence, you first need to get to know yourself better.  What Do You Stand For? will walk you through step by step to identify your core values

About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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