how loving others helps you accept yourself (and vice versa)

If you go online and look at what things can help you increase inner peace in your life, you will come across the concept of self-love. The idea is that the more you love, accept, and believe in yourself, the more resilient you become in dealing with life’s challenges.

However, there is another side of the coin that is not always talked about with the same vigour: loving others and accepting their imperfect selves.

In my experience, both love and acceptance for yourself, and that for others, are highly interlinked. One is not complete or deeply fulfilling without the other. See the diagram below:

How love for others and love for one self feed into each other. When we practice self-love, our understanding of our nature helps us develop empathy for others. And when we try to understand and accept others, we develop the habit of accepting our own traits similarly too. Both practices lead to an improved understanding of human nature, which develops compassion both ways. (Image mine.)

When we try to practice acceptance and forgiveness for our own selves, we become aware of how much leeway we are willing to give ourselves. It becomes easy to extend the same compassion to others, because if you could make that mistake and be able to let it go, why could you not let another person’s similar mistake go as well? Why could you not give them the space and time to make amends like you would to yourself?

Whatever the case may be, when you are trying to understand yourself, and why you are the way you are, it gives you insight into human nature. Later on, even when you change your standards for which things you want to forgive yourself for or not, which things you don’t want to let go of and why so, you will still have that understanding of human nature to make educated guesses about why people act the way they do.

Because of this understanding, you could develop more softness in your heart, which could allow you to be more patient and compassionate with other people and their imperfections.

Similarly, trying to actively develop love and acceptance for others will help you accept your own self too. If you can be so forgiving and kind with others, then why not extend yourself a similar acceptance? If you can notice and celebrate the good traits in others, why not for yourself too? After all, you are just another human like everyone else.

I am not suggesting one should lower their standards for personal improvement just because it is easy for one to let go of others’ shortcomings. Different people have different goals and visions in life. We don’t have to settle and stay in one place just because the people around us don’t want to go in the same direction.

However, practicing forgiveness and acceptance like you do for others instead of getting stuck in one place emotionally could speed-track your progress since you know how to get unstuck from the difficult emotions quickly. Being compassionate and caring towards others also helps you feel the usefulness in your existence, which contributes to inner fulfilment.

Some ways to practice love for others and for yourself:

Write down good things about the people in your life often. The kind things or favours they do for you, as well as their beautiful character traits. Focus more on the good things than their flaws. Practicing this will make it easier for you to let go of their mistakes or flaws. Now practice doing the same for yourself. It will make it easier to let go of your own imperfections and flaws.

Notice and celebrate your achievements. It will help you remember how far you have come and how far you can go. If you also do this for others, over time it can increase love, warmth, and motivation among people. And knowing that your existence is making others’ existence brighter will give you some fulfillment too.


Lastly, I believe that it is okay to hold yourself to a higher standard than you do other people. In fact, it may be the most effective way to maintain good relations with others and not halt your personal growth either. You can keep on refining your own character while practicing forgiveness for yourself (important for maintaining inner peace) while looking over the small flaws of other people.

Everyone has their own level of goals, commitment, and the timeline for meeting those goals. So I think that unless you are a parent, teacher, or a coach, it’s really none of your business to run after others with a stick trying to change them. Just focus on yourself while extending compassion to yourself and others, and life just might become a little more beautiful to live.


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