How to Really Embrace Yourself (Even in the Face of Criticism)

Arms Open

Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Unknown

Sitting at a party minding my own business, I wasn’t expecting it. I had no reason to. A comment filled with sarcasm and authority shot out at me from a across the room.

“Shut up Kathryn.”

It hit me like a bullet aimed straight at my heart.

I wasn’t even aware I was being particularly quiet. I was simply being me. Taking in my surroundings, quietly observing, listening to the conversations that encircled me.

But someone had noticed I was in a quiet mood. And for reasons that I will never fathom, they felt the need to bring it the attention of the entire room.

“Shut up Kathryn,” they smirked.

The comment instantly consumed my thoughts as all eyes turned toward me and sniggers of laughter filtered through the room. As my mind went fuzzy, I grappled for an appropriate response.

But what possible response is there?

As my insecurities were highlighted to anyone who would listen, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. Right there and then.

They thought they were being funny. But I found little to laugh about. The pricks of tears welled up as I fought hard to push the pain away, deep inside me. But I had to play along. Had to pretend. Had to smile. Had to laugh. As if all was okay.

But it really, really wasn’t.

And when I got home I cried. Then I cried some more.

I was haunted by three little words that represented everything I felt insecure about: my quiet nature. My introversion. My shyness. The things that I wished I didn’t have to deal with. The things I wished I could change.

When I look back at that day as a teenager, I want to comfort my younger self. To hold her close and whisper in to her ear that it will all be okay. To tell her that she will look back at this day and gain strength from it.

That she will learn to grow, embrace herself for who she is, and feel so empowered; that even though she didn’t dare share her feelings with anyone at the time, as an adult she will find the courage to share this story with you today.

To really embrace your natural persona, to live life in a way that’s completely and utterly true to who you are, and to let go of the words of the critics that may shroud your thoughts, here are three pieces of advice that have worked beautifully for me and which I hold close, if ever I falter.

Surround yourself with support.

Here’s the thing—you aren’t on your own. We all have insecurities, we all face challenges in our lives, and we can all find support if we reach out for it.

Move yourself away from the critics and release their scathing comments from your world. They come from people with their own troubles and you don’t need them in your life.

Instead, surround yourself with the people who make you feel alive—who provide you with support, inspiration, and words of encouragement.

And then turn to these people in times of need. They are the ones you will help you grow, thrive, and learn to love every inch of who you are.

Work out where you shine.

We are all born with wonderful strengths that, if used on a daily basis, can help us find our true calling.

Give yourself the time and space to reflect and then begin to develop a self-awareness and understanding of situations where you feel completely content and comfortable.

These are the moments when you are in ‘flow’—when life feels easy as you start doing the stuff that you were born to do.

By bringing more of these moments into your life, your confidence in your abilities will flourish and your insecurities over time will fade.

Listen to your body and give it what it needs.

I truly believe we all need to listen to our bodies more. If you start your day feeling exhausted and drained, then think about what that means.

You are only human, so give yourself a break. If you feel like resting, then rest. If you crave time and space by yourself, then don’t feel guilty about turning down an invitation to go out with friends.

Nurture your mind, body, and spirit in whatever way it craves, and your strength will surely grow.

Learning to embrace yourself is a journey that can hold many challenges. And if you’ve had to face unhelpful criticism or scathing comments throughout your life, then it can be all the more tricky.

But do you know what? There are amazing ways that you can help yourself and find peace with who you are.

You’ve just got to give yourself the time to grow.

Photo by pshegubj

About Kathryn Hall

Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to individuals who want more freedom, solitude, and creativity in their careers. She’s big on helping people to embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a life they love. Sign up to connect with Kathryn and receive her free audio series "How to create a soulful business the stress-free way."

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