“Don’t let the opinions of others dictate your future.” We hear it ALL the time, and yet we can’t help ourselves when we get criticized or made fun of. Only when it’s too late do we get over the fact that other people’s beliefs about us don’t matter in the end.

Dr. Daniel Amen said it best.

When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you; when you’re 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody thinks of you; when you’re 60, you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all.

We believe this to be true, but we still let the potential thoughts of others paralyze us from taking action on our desires. So what are some things that we can do to start to move us forward away from this paralyzing effect? Here are some strategies that will guide you to self-acceptance so you can achieve the goals that have been lingering on your vision board for too long.

1. Monitor Your Self-Talk

If you said out loud to someone else half of the things that you say to yourself, you’d probably get slapped across the face. We have been conditioned to criticize ourselves so strongly; we ARE our own worst critic, and that’s holding us back. Self-acceptance must be reinforced within first, before we can shape our environment to support us. By bringing awareness to what we say to ourselves, we can slowly shift our thinking to a more supportive mindset. A great resource that can help with self-talk is What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter.

2. Celebrate Your Strengths

Too often we try to develop our weaknesses to be at the level of our strengths. We’re so preoccupied with our shortcomings and obstacles that stress us out that we forget to acknowledge the accomplishments and strengths that we do have. It’s time to flip the script to generate gratitude for our abilities and skills that have got us this far.

3. Forgive Yourself

Holding on to regret is one of the big walls from self-acceptance. We must realize that what has already happened is out of our control. Understand that we did the best we could with the information we had at that time. The decisions you make now are vastly more important than the decision you made in the past. It’s in our failures, not our successes, that we learn the most about ourselves.

4. Elevate Your Support Circle

Getting out of our own heads to see things clearly will significantly help you on your path to self-acceptance. Talking through your issues with another person will help you release some of the stress. Take an inventory of your circle and remove those who reinforce negative self-talk. There’s a difference between the people who criticize you for your benefit and those who do it for theirs.

5. Focus On What You Can Control

When you feel negative emotions, see it as a separate event and not a part of you. Good things and bad things will happen to you. It’s just a matter of when. And when they do happen, understand that you can’t control what happens, but you can control your reaction and your attitude.

You’re worth it, and you deserve to be happy.