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The Self-Love Paradox: How to Accept Yourself Without Getting Stuck

By Michelle Buglas

The presenter grabbed her generous belly and shook it. “I used to wear clothes to cover up my stomach, but this tummy’s carried two children and I’m proud to show it off.” Many of the spectators clapped or nodded, “Good for you!” they replied.

I sat back and observed, feeling conflicted.  I was on my own journey of self-reflection – somewhere between accepting myself as I am and wanting to become the best I can be.  I was impressed with the facilitator’s confidence and her “take me as I am” attitude. But I also couldn’t help wondering if she was stuck, and giving up personal accountability for where she was at.

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Could self-acceptance mean I’m stuck? Could self-acceptance mean I'm stuck? https://ctt.ec/ceH70+ via @idealistisabel

There are so many different messages about self-love, change and authenticity that seem to conflict with one another. On one hand we’re encouraged to believe “You are good enough,” and on the other hand, we’re being told to “be the best that you can be,” to “step outside your comfort zone” and “dream big.” These two affirmations seem to clash with one another leaving many confused and in search of some kind of answer.

Eventually, I came to reconcile these two, seemingly opposing sets of affirmations without feeling like I’m stuck.

Two Ways to Interpret “I’m Good Enough”:

  1. A Way of Rationalizing Reluctance to Change

When you make absolute statements like, “that’s just the way I am” you may be giving up accountability, or avoiding actions or decisions that make you uncomfortable. When “I’m good enough” is an excuse, it likely means you are closing the door on growing into your authentic self.

  1. A Method of Accepting Who You Are in the Moment

Rather than rationalizing staying the way you are, you celebrate who you are today while remaining open to growth. You step willingly into the discomfort of change, and smile inwardly at yourself while doing so.  Being okay with you “in the now,” while setting goals for you in the future, reflects a genuine love of your whole self.

You’re right where you should be, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay there.You’re right where you should be, but that doesn't mean you have to stay there. https://ctt.ec/NFE6f+ via @idealistisabel

How to Live the Self-Love Paradox

“Be the best that you can be” and “I’m good enough” are not necessarily opposing affirmations. When they come from a place of authenticity and self-love, they work synergistically to help you be and become. Making one affirmation of the two might sound something like this: “I embrace and nurture my authentic self today and use this self to continue to grow, to be open to change and to be the best that I can be.”

Self-Love Summary:

  • Accept who you are in the moment while remaining open to growth.
  • Step willingly into the discomfort of change, and smile inwardly at yourself while doing so.
  • Love who you are right now while setting goals for the future.

Combining the belief that you’re right where you should be in this moment – with the desire to grow into a more authentic version of you – reflects a genuine love of your whole self.

I don’t know if the workshop facilitator that day was practicing genuine authenticity or holding onto a belief that kept her stuck. But wherever she was on her journey, I’m grateful for her willingness to share her vulnerability. It helped guide me through my own process of personal reflection and growth.  And I hope it helps you, too.


Michelle Buglas is a mental health professional, a university instructor, a mother and an advocate for living a healthy life. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with her husband and up to six millennials depending on the day.

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4 thoughts on “The Self-Love Paradox: How to Accept Yourself Without Getting Stuck

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