blog title graphic with a white modern flower on a beige background that says, 4 ways to love and accept yourself in midlife,

When you accept yourself, life gets better.

How you do it is to confidently acknowledge that there’s so much about you that’s good. You also know you’re on the path of continuing to grow when you can accept your wonderfully imperfect self, too!

Daily life is challenging, with unrealistic expectations of who you think you need to be. The media, social media, family, work and society try to shape you into the image of someone who measures up, even if you disagree.

And yet,

  • trying to do a good job
  • be a good person
  • be valued by those who matter to you

This is what’s essential in life.

So, how do you get past negative self-talk, worry about not doing enough, and live up to unrealistic expectations?

The path of acceptance is one of courage. It requires you to get clear about what you need, even when you aren’t sure to change your mind or make a mistake about what you want.

Practicing self-compassion while you figure it out will help you stay on track.

Here are four ways you can cultivate more self-acceptance. They are all interrelated, moving from what’s outside your control to within your control. As you follow the steps, you’ll clarify what you want and set goals that align with your values.

No matter your age, culture, race, gender, or nationality, the media (and social media) often highlights the ideal. It can leave you feeling that you don’t measure up to the ideal and unattractive. Comparisons aren’t only for teens; they can happen to us regardless of age. Research has shown that the more media you consume with attractive people in it, the worse you feel about yourself. But it’s important to remember that the media reflects what we’re already thinking, and to get unstuck, it’s important to remember this. If your focus is appearance-based, you likely fall short because your brain is already oriented that way. If you see media for what it is—a show—then you can stop comparing yourself to unrealistic ideals and accept yourself.

2. Limit negative self-talk.

One of the ways you can better accept yourself is to challenge your negative self-talk. All of us have an inner monologue running all day long. If this self-talk is primarily negative, you’ll have difficulty feeling good about yourself. For example, many clients say things like, “I’m not attractive anymore,” “My life is a mess,” or “I didn’t work so hard for my life to be like this.” You can stop some painful thoughts by limiting your media and social media time, which can help prevent immediate adverse reactions.

I haven’t met anyone whose life is entirely negative or positive for longer-term relief practice noticing when you have feelings of satisfaction when you laugh or even when you feel proud of yourself. When you recall pleasant memories – times when things have gone well, your brain gets a boost from recalling that experience. Remembering good times can open up a more optimistic frame of reference and help you get unstuck from negative thinking and accept yourself.

3. Express yourself.

What else stops you from accepting yourself? Mostly, we fear what other people might think about us if we show our true selves. For example, maybe your friends all have the same opinion about a political topic, so you decide not to share your different points of view. Maybe your friends have a particular view on healthy eating and exercise, so you choose not to talk about your opinions because you don’t want to have that conversation. Or maybe your friends enjoy sharing a meal at a fancy restaurant, so you decide not to invite them to your house for the cozy dinner you’d enjoy; even as adults, we often hold back because we’re afraid of how we’ll be judged.

It’s human nature to want to show the best sides of ourselves. Holding back your opinions occasionally is a necessary part of life — in fact, it can help make our relationships a bit easier and more enjoyable. You don’t have to share everything with everyone all the time!

However, self-expression is problematic when you edit yourself so much that people-pleasing is your default, and your unique perspective gets lost. The result? Few of the people in your life know who you are deep down. Maybe you even start to question who you are and what you believe. Another consequence is that the critical people in your life don’t have the opportunity to accept you as you are. Most importantly, you don’t allow yourself to accept yourself as you are, either.

4. Celebrate your strengths.

Sometimes, focusing on your weaknesses is more accessible than celebrating your strengths. This is especially true for “problem solvers.” Everyone has things they aren’t great at doing and that’s okay. But, when you focus on those things instead of focusing on what you’re good at, too, it leads to getting stuck. If you get down on yourself regularly for things, liking yourself as much as possible will be hard. So, celebrate your strengths and discover even more about yourself. Gaining a new or broader perspective usually helps you accept yourself more.

In sum, when you accept yourself, life is more straightforward – that’s the bottom line! It’s a process to get there. And part of that process is building habits that support your well-being and personal growth – step by step. Habits that help you feel good and continue to grow and nurture yourself with compassion and accountability make the process easier.

How will you begin the process of accepting yourself?