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  • Writer's pictureDeirdre Maloney


We’ve all been there, right? Self-judgement runs in our society as a daily norm. As sure as you’re going to have your morning coffee or tea, you’re going to judge yourself in one way or another.

Of course, we all have tons of things we can pick ourselves apart for. Yelling at the kids, overeating the day before, skipping a workout, not keeping up on the housework, and worst of all, past mistakes.

I’m the Queen of mistakes. There was a time when that’s all I did. I’ve had to forgive myself and find ways to move forward even after making terrible choices. Carrying around shame and guilt holds us back from opportunities. The fear of not being enough closes us off from deep, meaningful connections.

Here are a few tips that have helped me to accept myself:

1. Try writing down some of the things you judge yourself for. I find getting it out of my head and onto paper really helps me detach from the emotion behind it. I will share a few of mine with you: Shame of body, shame of my past drug use, guilt over not being the “perfect” daughter, shame of things that happened to me that were out of my control. Now imagine reading your list as though it were your friend’s. How would you respond?

2. Looking at your list, how much of this shame has been carried with you from childhood? Imagine this portrayal of yourself was developed at a young age, too young to make these defining decisions. What would you tell your inner child about these fears? Would you want your younger self to feel this shame, did you deserve it? Consider writing your inner child a letter to explain how none of this could possibly be their fault.

3. Compartmentalize. Understanding that our past is in the past is essential. You are allowed the grace of change and growth. I often look back on my past and feel like it was a lifetime ago, and really it was! Holding myself prisoner for those mistakes is unfair. I’ve created mental blocks of time for different parts of my life, and I now understand that each block I was a different person. At times I was a person who needed personal growth but lacked opportunity. Looking at your life as a story can help you compartmentalize it into sections, instead of feeling like your past self is a representation of who you are today.

4. Accepting that our mistakes make us stronger. All of the secrets that I held about my past are why I am who I am today. Experiencing difficult times and relationships helped me gain empathy and compassion. Failure and pain can be a significant driving force for change in our lives.

Learning to let go of these negative thought patterns that we have created about ourselves is difficult, but also possible. My fear of not being accepted still lives inside of me. Learning to talk myself down from the negative chatter in my head has been a long process. Meditation has been really beneficial with this. It is important to understand that we can choose what we think: we are in the driver’s seat of our conscious mind. The next time that negative chatter sets in for you, see if you can listen and notice that you are separate from that conversation. Maybe even laugh at it, realizing how ridiculous it is that your monkey brain can take over and invade your peace. Practice steering the conversation, or interrupting it with music, a podcast, reading, or by calling a friend.

Lastly, know that you aren’t alone. We all struggle with self-acceptance. I also find the less I judge myself, the less I judge others, and vice-versa, and that is a good feeling.

Be Well.

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