Perhaps you have issues talking to people, or you have a sharp temper, or you’re not as good at work as you wish you were.
And when you compare yourself to others, you can’t help but feel bad—you’re simply not as perfect as you should be.
What you need is a little bit of self-love.
And to help you with that, here are 10 ways you can be kind to yourself even when you’re not perfect.
1) Rest and recover
There’s no denying that, in general, making mistakes is pretty stressful.
And if you have poor to nonexistent self-esteem, you might even be tempted to punish yourself by pushing extra hard and not giving yourself time to rest.
And that’s the absolute worst thing you can do!
When you’re in that mental state and pushing yourself against all odds, you’re likely to make more mistakes… which will lead to you thinking that you’re a completely useless person.
But there’s a way to prevent this, and that’s by staying away for a bit and letting yourself cool off when you catch yourself making mistakes or burning out.
And once you have cooled off? Get back to whatever you were doing. Trust me, your performance will get much better. Doing things with a relaxed and recharged mind will lead to you making better decisions.
2) Look at how far you’ve come
It can be hard to grasp in the moment how far you’ve come, especially when you’re surrounded by people you idolize or simply think of as being “better” than you.
You might have been painting for two years now, but feel like you aren’t good enough when you compare your work to your favorite artists.
But seeing yourself this way is nothing but a disservice to yourself, because there will always be people better than you. And people simply grow and learn differently—so sometimes, someone who started after you might be ahead.
So go look back at who you were in the past, and how far you’ve come and grown—be it as an artist, a person, or even as an employee. You might have just walked farther than you thought you had.
3) See every mistake as a learning opportunity
There’s a certain allure to seeing someone rise to the top already doing everything perfectly—never making mistakes, never being mediocre.
But this is an unrealistic thing to expect of anyone—least of all yourself!
People who seem great are usually anything but…at least not at the beginning. They struggled to get who they are, and they did not get there alone.
Most important of all, they made mistakes and learned from them.
People misunderstand mistakes—they do not hold you back from success. Instead, they are stepping stones to help you achieve success…opportunities to learn how to be better and do better.
4) Make a record of your little victories
Did you manage to power through your social anxiety and survive an hour-long get-together? Write that down.
Did you perhaps meet your goal to eat at least 2000 calories a day? Then write that down.
Small victories like these might seem, well… small and not even worth mentioning, especially when a lot of other people can do them just fine.
But just because it’s easy for everyone else doesn’t mean it should also be easy for you. If you’re struggling with something and you managed to power through anyway, then by all means, celebrate it!
Then, when you’re feeling low, read your list. Remind yourself that despite everything, you managed to do all of that…and you certainly can do more!
5) Remember that not all criticism is valid
When people mess up, it’s only natural to expect criticism for it depending on just how important or public that mistake was.
If you’re lucky, you’ll only have a handful of people there to give you their opinions… and if you’re unlucky, you’ll have a horde calling you out on social media for a week straight.
It would be foolhardy to simply hunker down and pretend you did nothing wrong (which a lot of people do, sadly) because that will keep you from learning from your mistakes.
But at the same time, there are people who—no matter what you do or say—will never care. They’re simply there to make fun of you or to feel good about themselves by putting you down.
That’s why, sure, it’s important to try to sit down and listen to criticism… but also be careful about who you’re listening to.
6) Do the things you like
People often convince themselves that they shouldn’t do the things they like because they don’t deserve it or it’s a “waste of time.”
Why buy expensive wine when you aren’t “cultured” enough to appreciate its quality? Why play games when you can find new ways to earn money instead? Why collect plushies when you’re too old to be getting toys?
And this is wrong. What this will lead to is you being incredibly miserable. And it will make any insecurities you have about not being “perfect” worse.
We only have a hundred years to live, maybe less. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, go and do what makes you happy.
Besides, you might just excel at something that you DO, in fact, like. Isn’t that better than pushing on with something you think is “important” but isn’t something you really want to do?
7) Be kind to others
Being kind to yourself makes it easier to be kind to others.
The inverse is also true—being kind to others makes it easier for you to be kind to yourself. Why? Because it doesn’t give you guilt and the pressure to perform better (after all, you’re a b*tch or assh*le, you might as well be perfect in other ways, right?).
When you see people making mistakes—even ones that you think are silly—then hold back any biting remarks that you might be tempted to say.
You might think that maybe they deserve it, but learn a little compassion.
Everyone messes up, after all. And people can actually bounce back from their mistakes sooner if they were met with understanding.
So be kind. Offer to help, even. It will make you kinder to yourself, and who knows, the other person might just return the favor someday.
8) Surround yourself with supportive people
Cut off all those nasty negative nancies who never seem to have a good word to say!
Being around people who are only interested in talking about the mistakes you and others make will keep you feeling like you’re never enough. Every time you make a mistake, you’ll end up feeling conscious about it, knowing that they’ll rake you over the coals for it.
On the other hand, when you’re with people who are supportive and kind towards you even when you make mistakes, you’ll likely feel more motivated to do better.
The people you hang out with can decide whether you’ll thrive or wither. So surround yourself with supportive people —just make sure you’re not surrounding yourself with yes-men either.
9) Don’t always make it about you
Things aren’t always about you.
This might seem like a no-brainer, of course, but it’s a common trap to fall into when you have problems with self-love.
It’s not hard to feel like it’s your fault when something goes wrong… or that maybe there was something you could have at least done about it.
You might have seen your best friend getting her heart broken, and you might think, “I knew that guy was suspicious! I should have warned her!”
But how sure are you that that would have done any good? Could you really have convinced her, or would you only have pushed her away?
Sometimes things just happen, after all.
10) Remind yourself—again and again— that nobody is perfect
I’ve talked a lot about how people make mistakes, and that mistakes are just a natural part of life.
But you can have that in the back of your mind and yet continue to beat yourself up whenever you mess up.
So it’s especially important that you walk up to the mirror and tell yourself that nobody is perfect. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.
There’s no need for you to punish yourself with unrealistic expectations. So don’t punish yourself for being flawed, for having been a terrible person once, or for messing up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What matters is who you are now, and what you’ll do with yourself moving forward.
There’s no two ways about it—if you have problems loving yourself because you think you’re not good enough, or deserving, or even “perfect”, you’re struggling with poor self-esteem.
And so if you want to learn how to be kind to yourself, you need to learn how to improve your own self-esteem…to hype yourself up and teach yourself confidence.
This can seem almost impossible, depending on how things are for you. But so long as you keep making steps to improve your self-esteem, you’ll eventually get there.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.