Boost Self-Esteem By Loving Your Flaws And Failures

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr

Think for a minute about the things you mentally say to yourself that are critical and negative.

You may not be consciously aware of how often these thoughts pop into your head. But now that I've mentioned it, become conscious of it. And become conscious of how they impact your self-esteem.

Now think about the unpleasant feelings that wash over you — before the negative thoughts even enter your head — when you see or hear something that makes you feel “lesser than.”

You see someone more attractive, and you immediately feel self-conscious or shamed.

You encounter someone more successful, and that feeling of inadequacy washes over you.

You talk with a person who is exceptionally bright and outgoing, and you feel diminished and awkward.

These negative thoughts and feelings are the toxic brew we simmer in that evaporates self-esteem over time. The longer we simmer in this brew, the more potent it becomes. Our perceived flaws and failures dominate our perception of ourselves. And with low self-esteem, our self-confidence takes a hit as well.

When we feel bad about who we are, we are unable to perform successfully in the world around us. We aren't motivated. We can't achieve our goals. We limit ourselves to the table scraps of life.

Now I firmly believe many of our self-doubts are simply by-products of simmering in the toxic brew of negative thinking for far too long. We exaggerate our flaws and failures and sometimes ascribe defects to ourselves that don't exist. These are the stories we tell ourselves that have little or no basis in reality. If you really question and investigate your thinking around these beliefs, you'll see how you may have created a paper monster.

Learn to love your weaknesses and boost self-esteem.

But not all of our flaws and failures are made of paper. Some are very real. And very painful. And they cause you much shame, grief, and regret.

  • Maybe you haven't handled that situation very well.
  • Maybe you are overweight.
  • Maybe you aren't living to your potential.
  • Maybe you do need to be kinder.
  • Maybe you aren't stunningly attractive.
  • Maybe you don't earn a lot of money.
  • Maybe you were fired.
  • Maybe you aren't very outgoing.
  • Maybe you've made poor choices.
  • Maybe you are lazy at times.
  • Maybe you were dumped.

Any one of us reading that list above can find something they relate to, some flaw or failure they recognize as their own.

The truth is — we all have flaws, and we have all failed.

Flaws and failure are part of the human condition. And even if you look at the person next to you and believe with all your heart that they “have it all,” you're wrong.

Every person on the planet has screwed up. Every person has mental, physical, or emotional imperfections. And every person is keenly aware of his or her flaws and failures.

So why is it that some people are able to boost self-esteem more than others? Why can some people live happily with their flaws and failures while others are plagued with low self-confidence?

I think it comes down to two things:

  • the willingness to change the things you can change to improve yourself;
  • the acceptance (and even love) of those things you cannot change.

If you have low self-esteem around a real flaw or past failure, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to improve this or mitigate the pain of it?”

Can you make amends, get more training, improve your appearance, lose weight, work on your communication skills, go to counseling, or make different choices?

Action that creates positive change will absolutely improve your self-esteem. You will feel in control of yourself and your destiny.

But then there are those things you cannot change. What can you do about those stubborn buggers that are immune to positive action? What can you do about those big screw-ups you can't fix, or the physical features you can't change, or the past regrets that are over and done?

Well here's a mind shift for you: What if you just love them?

What if you just gather up all of those flaws and failures and embrace them as a parent would embrace a beloved child?

You are flawed and you have failed. Just like me. Just like everyone. It is part of being human, and to reject those things is to reject who you are and your essential humanness.

Embracing and loving these unchangeable flaws and failures simply means you accept them. You stop struggling and begin to view them as an essential connection to the rest of humanity.

With acceptance, you strengthen your character and improve your emotional maturity. This gives you the peace of mind to focus on your strengths, improve what you can, and fully enjoy the many blessings life does afford you.

Have you ever noticed how comforting and reassuring it is to be around someone who has embraced their flaws and failures — someone who is real about these things but doesn't let them dominate their lives? You've probably seen extreme examples of this with people who have a severe disability or have had a very public embarrassment but are living with joy and self-confidence. (Read the story of Nick Vujicic if you want to be inspired.)

It is comforting to know that everyone is flawed and has failed. There will be those who appear to have more flaws and failures and those who have less. But the only thing that really matters is how YOU choose to manage your own.

You can continue to struggle against them, simmer in negativity and bad feelings, and live with low self-esteem.

Or you can have the serenity of accepting (and even loving) those things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

When you are willing to shift your negative thoughts about your flaws to thoughts of self-love and acceptance, you will boost your self-esteem and experience a sense of peace and contentment that permeates your entire life.

What negative thoughts do you have about your flaws and past failures? Where can you affect real change, and where must you embrace those things you cannot change? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 48 comments
  • MJ

    Hi Ms Barrie! Thanks again for another wonderful article shared to your readers. It lifts my spirit every time I visit this site. More power to you!

    * As we learn to change our perspective, we can learn to accept ourselves just the way we are we. We would be loving ourselves more because being “you” is enough. We always have to remember that.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi MJ,
      I’m so glad I can help lift your spirits! Yes, being YOU is enough. You are the best you there is!!

  • naureen

    So like the expression ‘simmering in the toxic brew of negative thinking.’ The idea of ’embracing your flaws and failures as a parent would embrace a beloved child’ is beautiful. Thanks… great post.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Naureen,
      I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you for your kind comments!

  • Simon

    Thanks for sharing this great post. It is better to to try and change your flaws and be positive about it improving in the future than to beat the drum of the flaw and feel negative about it forever. Because the former will actually bring real life improvements and you will be happy whereas the latter will keep you where you are and maintain your state of unhappiness.

    Well said.

      Barrie Davenport

      That’s so true Simon, if our flaws are changeable. And if not, that’s when we embrace them and remember they are part of what makes us human!

  • ADN

    thank you!

      Barrie Davenport

      You are so welcome!

  • McKenzie

    Straightforward and simple with advise that provokes thought. Thank you. I will be sharing this with my clients.

    Why do we think that others are so different than we are? We all are imperfect, we all screw up and make mistakes, we all struggle. For me, understanding this takes away the “better than” “worse than” mind set we tend to adopt that sets us up for those run away thoughts and put downs that contribute to low self esteem.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi McKenzie,
      It is comforting to know we aren’t alone in our foibles. And most of the time, other people are far more absorbed with their own issues to pay much attention to ours! I find that comforting too. 🙂

  • Kimberly

    I really enjoyed this post, Barrie. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life and many choices that make me feel tremendous shame if I focus on them individually. However, I know that I’m who I am today not IN SPITE of the things I’ve been through, but BECAUSE of them. I wouldn’t change it even if I could because those things have made me a strong, compassionate, empathetic being. I never doubt if I can make it through something, because I’ve already proven to myself that I can.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Kimberly,
      You are not alone in making mistakes and having shame around them. I hope you will forgive yourself, make amends where necessary, and make up for your mistakes by living your best life right now. You are wise to learn from your past and use the lessons to be a more understanding person. Life difficulties make us more interesting, resilient, and compassionate people.

  • John T

    Hey Barrie, I think you have a very interesting angle here! The first thing this post made me think of were some of those adorable characters from popular TV sitcoms. The characters we appreciate the most are so often those with loveable flaws rather than those who are too perfect to be interesting.

    Low confidence is sometimes the result of learning the wrong lessons from earlier experiences of “rejection”. So another way to boost confidence is by reversing that psychology as described at

    I think that part of the solution could be cultivating the belief that your self-acceptance doesn’t have to be directly linked to characteristics such as your body, personal style or achievements. Once you have achieved that kind of deeper, unconditional self-acceptance then it’s probably much easier to love your flaws.

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  • Abhishek kumar

    Thanks barrie,
    yours articles are so good. I am trying to improve myself but i am still there confuse and low

  • Pat

    Great article, as usual. I’ve been there in terms of low self-esteem when it comes to some of these “flaws”. I do have a comment about one of the items in your list of flaws, though: “Maybe you aren’t very outgoing”. Why is it that the world thinks being outgoing, being an extrovert, is the thing to aspire to and that if you’re an introvert, you should work on it and try to change it? Being an introvert is perfectly fine. We introverts have as much to offer the world as extroverts do; we just come at things from a different perspective and different ways of reacting. We tend to think things through first before coming to a conclusion or giving an answer; nothing wrong with that. I’m sure that you would agree with this; I just object to anyone thinking, from reading the list, that not being outgoing is a flaw.

  • vishal

    Thank you for kind words. It helps clearing mind and understand that weired could be okay. I pray for wisdom to everyone.

  • Cathy Graham

    This article really resonated with me as I’ve been wallowing in negativity and low self esteem this week. I get really down on myself sometimes and then feel completely stuck and unable to move forward with anything.

    Thanks for the reassurance that we all have flaws and have all failed. It’s how we handle it that makes a difference. I let my inner demons whisper in my ear and tell me I’m hopeless and not to bother trying. It’s a constant battle not to listen to their chatter.

    Daily positive affirmations and articles like yours help me more than you know. Thanks a lot!

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Cathy,
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad my article helped you. Keep practicing tuning out those negative voices. By paying attention to the fact they are there, you will begin to automatically remind yourself that they are false and useless mental chatter. Instead of listening to them, use them as a cue to take some kind of positive action.

  • Lady K

    A Perfect quote this is. I cried when I read this article for it points to me what I have denied myself and I deny to accept. My problem has separated me from the man I truly love; I haven’t lost him completely but I know that if I don’t follow your advise there might not be much left for me but to hope my kids love me for who I am. Life is so difficult and truth always hurts: not always in a negative way. It is my 1st step to being a better person, but I know it won’t be easy doing it alone. With belief, trust, confidence I know I can succeed. Thanks again for this wonderful article. It’s like you can get in my mind.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Lady K,
      Sometimes it is hard to hear the truth about ourselves, but when we realize we might lose something important (like someone we love), it’s a real wake-up call. I’m so glad my post was helpful for you.

  • Jeanette Lawrence

    Great post Barrie. I”ve been having that negative mind chatter lately about my mistakes and flaws and it really does effect how I feel. Your post really helped thank u.

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  • Thabang

    Thank You so much Barrie.

    Your article really uplifted my spirit. You are really changing peoples lives. Your service to this world has been granted. Keep doing your thing. You are amizing and God Bless you more.

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    i’m actually a beautiful girl but my only problem is that i have a strabismus so it made too hard to keep my head up and look people in the eye which decresed my selfconfidence, what’s the solution?

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  • Shaun

    Struggling for years with PTSD. I am flawed. Need help redirecting anger. My self perception is very poor. Feel like I am drowning in layers of bad decisions and inadequecy. I can see its not even one day at a time. Its more like one moment.

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