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How to learn to like yourself

How to learn to like yourself

Are you in a funk where you’re struggling to like yourself? Or, maybe you’re dealing with symptoms of depression or another mental health condition that’s tearing down your happiness and self-esteem.

In any case, it’s important to address these feelings of not liking yourself – while keeping in mind that this is a fairly normal experience to have. Let’s start at the beginning and truly understand what it means to like yourself. Then, we’ll dive into why you might be struggling to dislike yourself at this chapter in your life and how to like yourself more. (In the end, you might even be well on your way to loving yourself.)


Like Yourself Meaning: What Is the Meaning of “Liking Yourself”?

“Liking yourself” can mean, but is not limited to, being able to enjoy your own company. It involves feeling at peace with your self-identity and having a high regard for your own well-being/overall happiness. 

When you feel good about yourself, you may notice you feel “good enough” just as you are – all the imperfections, insecurities, and quirks included.  

Why Do I Struggle to Like Myself?

You might feel bad and struggle to like yourself if you are struggling with a mental health condition or challenge.

A feeling of self-hatred can stem from depression, which can also cause symptoms like hopelessness, guilt, and shame, which can make you feel as though you are not good enough. Trauma can also cause us to feel beaten down by guilt, shame, and hopelessness.

Self-loathing is constantly feeling hatred for yourself – but with therapy and different exercises, you can get to the root cause of the problem as well as explore and identify a way to build a version of yourself you like and even love.

Is It Normal to Not Like Yourself?

Yes, it is normal to not like yourself. Lots of people don’t like themselves for a time. You might be surprised by looking around at people who on the outside walk tall or seem to feel confident but actually struggle with low-self esteem. 

Hating yourself does not make you a bad person or unworthy of love. Still, people tend to become happier the more they learn about themselves. Coming to therapy is a great way to begin liking yourself and even loving yourself by learning skills to promote more self-love and self-compassion.

What to Do If You Really Don’t Like Yourself? How Do You Start Liking Yourself Again?

How to like yourself more: If you are going through a tough time of not liking or loathing yourself, you can start liking yourself again and feel confident in who you are by building practices of self-compassion and self-improvement, like:

  • Practice kindness when your harsh inner critic comes out: The next time you get the urge to beat yourself down, try saying something nice to yourself instead: “I wish I’d done a better job at that, but that’s okay – I’m learning and I am capable.”
  • Recognize your strengths/sing your praises: If you’re down on yourself because you feel like you failed at something, remind yourself what you’re good at. We all have strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others: The comparison game benefits no one – we are all different. In addition, we often aren’t privy to the inner struggles of those we’re comparing ourselves to. And everyone has inner struggles. 
  • Limit social media exposure: This’ll help you kick the comparison game and focus on your own happiness, well-being, and growth vs. those around you. 
  • Get to know your most authentic self: If you take the time to explore, there’s much to learn about yourself that you haven’t yet discovered. Spend some time alone, engaging in the activities you enjoy, to get to know yourself better. You’ll likely find some hidden parts that you’re fond of. 
  • Trust the process of building a better you: Keep in mind that many of us go through rough patches where we struggle to like ourselves, and trust that you’ll come out of it a better version of yourself – one that you do like and probably liked all along. 

How to Like Your Body

If you’re struggling specifically to like your body, you can start with many of the steps listed above. Here are additional tips to start liking your body (which is beautiful by the way):

  • Challenge any negative thoughts or harsh messages you are giving yourself
  • Think of your body as something that works to keep you functioning
  • Sing its praises/focus on what you do like about your body 
  • Exercise to feel good and healthy, not as a means of punishing yourself
  • Listen to what your body is signaling to you and honor that
  • Keep up with your hygiene practices
  • Allow for gentle stretching, massaging the muscles
  • Negate any harsh judgments or negative messages displayed on social media

What Are the Right Steps to Loving Yourself?

Start with the steps to liking yourself – then, when you’re ready to escalate the like to love, try a self-care inventory: Take an inventory of yourself and figure out what you are lacking and work to build yourself up in these areas. For example, retrace your steps today and ask yourself, “Where have I been stressed or anxious? What did I observe about myself today?” 

If I notice I have been stressed or anxious and/or am being critical towards myself as opposed to kind to myself when I am managing my anxiety, I may choose to work on slowing down, pausing to give myself a kind word, and then getting back to day-to-day activities.

How to Like Yourself More When You’re Struggling with Depression?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, you may have low self-esteem as well as a downtrodden mood and hopelessness as a direct result. 

Be kind to yourself during this time, seek out your comforts, and find your seat in therapy to work on exploring what might be causing your depression and how to honor your sadness with self-compassion.

How Can You Start to Feel More Like Yourself?

Depression can make you feel like you’ve lost sight of yourself. To start feeling more like yourself while you work to manage or recover from your depression, retrace your happiness. Ask yourself:

  • What has made me feel good in the past?
  • What has led to an experience of joy?
  • What lends to a happy life for me?

Then, take action to get back to those feelings and experiences of true joy and happiness. Get involved in hobbies or interests and focus on spending time with the people that make you feel like your best self.

  • Clinical writer
  • Editorial writer
  • Clinical reviewer
Christine Ridley, Resident in Counseling in Winston-Salem, NC

Christine Ridley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in adolescent and adult anxiety, depression, mood and thought disorders, addictive behaviors, and co-dependency issues.

Laura Harris, LCMHC in Durham, NC
Laura Harris, LCMHCLicensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
See Laura's availability

Laura Harris is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC). She specializes in anger, anxiety, depression, stress management, coping strategies development, and problem-solving skills.

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Taylor BennettSenior Content Strategist

Taylor Bennett is the Head of Content at Thriveworks. She received her BA in multimedia journalism with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book.”

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