How can I accept myself?

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    Dear community,

    Over the past 2 years, I’ve been going through a process of looking inside myself and understanding myself. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile. I’ve been observing my behaviour with my inner circle of friends. I am now in my early 30s.

    Over the last year, I’ve realised that I did not make these friends very organically. I realise that for most people, friendships ‘happen’ – they are not strategised and pursued. When people have things in common – common interests, common hobbies, hell, even a common travel route – they start talking and become friends.

    My story is a bit different. I never had any friends all through school. This is because I grew up part of a Born Again Christians evangelical group – and my ‘normal’ was not what other kids’ normal was. Because I had nothing in common with other kids – books, music, toys – I never had real friends. It was the opposite – I was always made to feel like an outcast, because my life was so different from theirs. I understand today, that kids can be very cruel and the adult me sees it but the child me still carries the scars of rejection.

    Because I didn’t have any, not a single, friend in school, I somewhere unconsciously thought I was the problem. Clearly, I must have been unworthy of friends. So I learnt how to modify EVERYTHING about me so that someone, anyone, would like me. I pushed down all my honest reactions, my thoughts, my preferences – and I conformed to the outside, so that I wouldn’t be lonely.

    What that translated into is that I ‘learnt’ how to make friends. I don’t mean that I put on a charade – rather, I internalised the approach of being the least obstructive, the least defined – I taught myself to always put myself last and others first, and to never inconvenience other people, to never give them a reason to not be my friend. This approach continued through college – I ‘pre-selected’ the people I would get along with (because I felt that if those kind of people liked me, then I would be seen as ‘normal’) and I got along with them.

    Today, I realise that I don’t need that approach anymore – yet, it is my default pattern when meeting new people.

    There are 2 things I am struggling with.

    1. The above realisation has made me relook my friendships and I realise that they are not as strong or honest as I earlier thought them to be. I almost feel like I don’t want these friends anymore, because I probably wouldn’t have made them organically in the first place. Therefore, I feel a massive amount of regret and fear – regret for wasting opportunities to form real relationships; fear for facing loneliness because it becomes harder to make friends as you grow older. This regret and fear makes me cling to my friends and try harder to make them work, so as not to admit that I did it all upside down earlier.

    2. I realise that my school experience laid the foundation for me to constantly reject myself and judge myself, against parameters set by the outside world. I did that because I wanted to be accepted by others, so that I could accept myself. Today, I don’t want to continue in that manner. However, I do not know any other way of acceptance! The lesson constantly reinforced, through ages 10 to 15, was that I must please other people so that I would not be rejected and left out. But how can I change this today? When I am told to accept myself and not judge myself, I want to shout out and say “but how? i don’t know how!! tell me how!!”

    Has anyone been through something similar? I would love to hear how to deal with Point no 2 – because I know that if I resolve point no 2, I will automatically dissolve my need for acceptance from the outside (which is what led to my friendship strategy in the first place.)

    Thank you. Your very presence and willingness to listen, is a blessing.


    the awakening
    You seem to have good self-awareness and capable of coming to terms with those issues yourself. I am a people-pleaser in some situations but often a stubborn loner. I pay the price for being a loner: aloneness but not loneliness. I spend a lot of time by myself, an introvert at heart. Just my partner and my dog. It’s Ok but sometimes I think I need to stretch my comfort zones.
    You sound like an extrovert and need friends around you a lot. Despite the pain, I’d say stay true to yourself. Be careful of not going the complete opposite direction- that is, from people-pleaser to conflict creator. It might take a while to get that happy medium. Good luck.


    Organization this is kinda me in middle school. I’d say always find genuine reasons why you like someone. Then at least even if they don’t return your favor it was genuine. I can’t tell you how many people I genuinely have friendships with cut of it



    I can relate to some of what you said and I am currently trying an “how.” My how is doing a body wisdom class with a fantastic teacher. It is a Chakra balancing class and while I have only started to work on the lower 3 Chakras, the work seems to be bring about change that I can recognize. The base chakra, the Root Chakra is filled with emotions and feelings dealing with our “tribe,” not necessarily just our family, but all the things that we thought of in terms of belonging. The work is envisioning being at that chakra, with my teacher asking a series of pointed questions to help open up, mine being pretty closed, the chakra, this is combined with specific homework,journaling, walking in nature,etc., yoga asanas that help to bring energy to the chakra. In case of the Root Chakra, the Mountain Pose and Warrior pose were suggested as they provide a connection to the earth which is what the Root Chakra’s is about. It was also suggested that I try Reiki,to help to balance the lower three.It totally makes sense to me as I have a strong tendency to “be in my head” and have over the years neglected certain feelings and an awareness and appreciation for the earth. Sorry for the length, but it seems like you are hurting and in need of a change. Namaste!


    Dear TheAwakening:

    Good job awakening! What a great username and a worthy pursuit, to awaken. (And very appropriate to the buddha theme)

    You wrote in point number 2: “When I am told to accept myself and not judge myself, I want to shout out and say “but how? i don’t know how!! tell me how!!”.

    The answer is of course within yourself. It is already there. How to connect to the answers that are … already there?

    Through the process of awakening to what is inside you. How? Mindfulness, paying attention. Attention to what you think, feel…

    I used to live almost strictly in my head. I was like a floating head, thinking, thinking… as if separated from a body. I have a five year experience now practicing mindfulness that was first introduced to me, the concept, that is in 2011. Yoga helped, meditation.. how uncomfortable and undesirable that was to me. I didn’t want to pay attention to my body. It has been a long, long process.

    The answers are not out there, but in here, in your body, your brain and the messages it sends to the rest of your body. The hurt of your childhood, you repressed it, pushed it down the best you could. As well as fear. Those need to be felt SOME, in small portions, for the connections to be made. Perhaps good psychotherapy?

    Please post more if you’d like.


    More: In other words, the answer to your question is not in mere thinking- your thinking is obviously superb and if the answer was in what thinking can produce alone, then you would have already have had it. I don’t think anyone here has better thinking than you have and can answer this question.

    The answer literally, scientifically is in your brain making new connections between neurons. Connections between the emotions pathways/ connections and the thinking pathways. This neural process takes time but not that long. The term is neuroplasticity, as far as I know.

    So in finding the answer you will still be using your thinking, only your thinking- once connected to emotions- will have the NECESSARY resource of your awareness of your emotions to use.

    Mindfulness is needed to access emotions, to build or strengthen needed pathways.



    My goodness… one more thing: the awakening you already experience is the result of new pathways created in your brain. The process has already started and well on its way.

    I think I am done, for now.


    Lately I’ve been struggling with intense low self esteem that has lead to depression, crippling anxiety, unhealthy habits and a lack of energy. I am very unconfident and awkward in social situations, my stomach is churning and my mind is racing right now just thinking about it. It’s as if I am afraid of people. I feel as though I never know what to say in conversations and that people think i am weird. I hate my appearance and every aspect about myself. Everyday i wake up and feel so lethargic and unmotivated. I know a lot about mediation, the law of attraction and have been reading Tiny Buddha’s self help posts and various self help books to assist in positivity. I am aware of what I need to do to change, but every time I put it into practice in my life I fail. I am bombarded with negative intrusive thoughts all day long, and try to correct distorted thinking with positive affirmations, and mediate every day. I hold onto every mistake from the past and am highly sensitive. I and have tried many different exercises and techniques to release them but its like I am trapped. Nothing seems to be effective. I just want to sleep all day, and at times I do not see a purpose for living.

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