This is one of the hardest, but also most difficult, things in life: to embrace yourself. It’s difficult not just because it’s hard to embrace yourself, it’s difficult because you don’t really know who you are. With every unfolding moment of your life, you discover something new about yourself, and sometimes the older you get, the more you wonder who you really are. We all lose ourselves in the course of life, and then find ourselves again.
There are endless books, articles, and websites that all claim to have the answer to the question “Who am I?” But you won’t find the answer in any of them. There’s only one place where you can find the answer: within yourself.
You have to listen to your heart. You have to do your thing. You gotta do things your way.
As a creative artist, you have to create art first of all for yourself: draw the painting you want to fall into, play the music you want to listen to, write the story you want to read.
It’s only when you do things for yourself that you can be truly creative. When you stop thinking about what the market wants, how you can create something that will trend on TikTok, or what you should do to write a bestseller. When you stop seeking validation through external measures of success.
Doing your thing your own way is the ultimate self-care.
And to do that, you have to embrace yourself. You have to love yourself, with all your faults and flaws. It’s an exercise in self-acceptance. Only then can you create something that’s truly beautiful. You got to be unapologetic and uncompromising in what you create.
Embrace your artistry
That’s how you create true, genuine, real art—and it doesn’t matter whether what you do is called art by society, or whether your form of art is the way you raise your kids, or talk with friends, or cook, or swim.
Art is doing something beautifully with care, and doing it for the sake of doing it, rather than for the outcome, and it’s not limited to fine arts.
Embrace your inner critic
I have a complex relationship with my inner critic. At times, it’s my best friend, at other times my worst enemy. Sometimes it helps me push a mediocre piece of work into the realm of good art. But many times, it impedes my creativity. I can get so self-critical that I doubt my art and self-worth.
I’m not the only artist living this struggle. At times, I just want to shut my inner critic up and get rid of him, because he can become quite tyrannical and push all my low self-esteem buttons. But the truth is, my inner critic has my best interest at heart. My inner critic doesn’t want me to experience the pain of failure and embarrassment. That’s the job it has, and I don’t think my inner critic is even fond of this job. It’s more a “somebody’s gotta do it” type of situation.
But I’ve learned that the only way to move through this inner critic is to embrace him. To thank him for his concern, and then gently but firmly tell him to shut up (for now) and let me do my thing. And then later, I’ll come and knock on his door again, and ask: “Hey, Inner Critic, look what I’ve created here. What’s your honest opinion about this? How can I make it better?”
And that’s what I want to encourage you to do: embrace your inner critic. Don’t try to get rid of him, don’t fight him. Listen to him, and then do what feels right for you.
If this is something you want to explore further, I encourage you to do one of my favorite self-awareness exercises, which is called “Getting to know a protector” and was developed by Richard Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems.
Embrace the present moment
We spend so much of our lives replaying the past or spinning up versions of the future that we miss out on the reality we’re actually experiencing in the now. Only through the engaging with direct reality can we make those magic moments happen that our true self flourishes in.
One of the things that gets in the way of creativity is that we’re always thinking about the future, or dwelling on the past. We’re never present in the moment.
But the creativity is in the present moment. It’s in the here and now.
When you’re present in the moment, you’re more open to new ideas and possibilities. You can be more spontaneous. You can take risks. You can be more daring.
And when you’re present in the moment, you’re also more open to feedback. You can listen to what others are saying, and you can also listen to your own inner voice.
If you want to be more creative, start by embracing the present moment. Let go of the past and the future, and be here now.
Embrace your emotions
Your emotions are miracles—they are the key to unlock your deepest wisdom. But being fully in touch with your emotions isn’t always great for functioning in society. And even when it comes to your creative work, emotions can get in the way. Especially the emotions you’re trying to suppress or push aside because they seemingly are in the blocking your creativity.
But what if your blocking of emotions is what’s blocking your creative flow? Not the emotions themselves, but your reaction to them.
Your negative emotions are just as important as your positive emotions. They are a messenger telling you that something is off, that you need to pay attention to something. Maybe you need to change the way you’re approaching your work. Maybe you need to take a break. Maybe you need to get some help from a therapist. But if you don’t listen to your emotions, you will never find out what that message is.
Your emotions are not your enemy, they’re not an obstacle. They are your friend. Your ally. Your guide. Embrace them, and listen to what they have to say.
Embrace not knowing
One of the hardest things to do is to be okay with not knowing. With not having all the answers. With the uncertainty that comes with the creative process.
Because the creative process is all about not knowing. It’s about exploring. It’s about experimentation. It’s about making mistakes. It’s about learning. It’s about growth.
And if you’re not okay with not knowing, you will never be able to be truly creative. You will never be able to experiment. You will never be able to take risks. You will never be able to make mistakes. You will never be able to learn and grow.
So if you want to be more creative, start by being okay with not knowing.
The self-love journey
Self-love is not a finish line. It’s a journey. A lifelong journey filled with ups and downs, with good days and bad days. But it’s a journey that’s worth taking. Because when you love yourself, you’re more likely to create something beautiful.
Most of all, self-love is a choice you make anew with every moment. You have to choose to love yourself anew every day. Every hour. Every minute.
So choose self-love. Choose to be kind to yourself. Choose to be patient with yourself. Choose to be forgiving of yourself. Choose to be gentle with yourself. Choose to love yourself, exactly as you are. Your well-being and mental health will thank you for it. And your creativity will flourish.
The art of embracing yourself
So, accept yourself and do things your way. It’s the most important thing. Not just for yourself, but also for those whose lives you touch—because only when you embrace yourself are you able to fully share what you have to share with the world, create what you’re put here on earth to create.
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but this message comes from my heart: Embrace yourself.
Embrace yourself like no one else could.