How to Accept Your Defects

The things you don't like about yourself could actually stem from insecurity and being unable to accept yourself for who you are.
How to Accept Your Defects
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 14 October, 2022

How can you accept your defects? If you ask people what they don’t like about themselves, many don’t know how to answer. “I have so many!” they say. Others, arrogant and overconfident, will say they don’t have any and that they accept themselves for exactly who they are. Those people are probably lying. After all, nearly everyone has something about themselves that they don’t like and try to hide. People hide shyness, insecurity, and the fear of being disliked, among other aspects.

The interesting thing, however, is that people sometimes label their personal traits as faults, when there’s nothing abnormal about them. For example, a prominent nose isn’t a defect; it’s a normal physical trait. A few extra pounds, freckles on your face, being short, or male-pattern baldness shouldn’t be considered defects.

Behind this negative self-perception lie insecurity and acceptance. True defects are rarely visible. Irresponsibility, laziness, selfishness, and pride are traits that require a trained sensibility to change and improve. Let’s delve right in.

A woman covering her face with her hand.

The keys to accepting your defects

Everyone has defects and virtues. The beautiful thing about being human is the combination of all of these opposing elements that make you imperfect and unique. Maybe one of your defects is that you have a bad temper. However, over time, you can learn to be aware of your strong character and lack of patience and manage to control them.

Or maybe you tend to talk too much and barely lets anyone get a word in. Again, the fact that you recognize it and take responsibility for it makes it possible to manage. It’s part of what defines you and probably causes sometimes. However, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

The first step to accepting your defects is very basic. You need to know if what you dislike about yourself is actually a defect.

Pathologizing normal qualities and traits

It’s very human to pathologize things about ourselves that are simply part of our personalities or physical appearance. Things that are truly ordinary, such as being a little bit shy, insecure, nervous, or impatient, aren’t defects in and of themselves. They’re simply traits that make up part of who you are.

The same thing goes for your physical traits. Weight, height, and skin problems aren’t defects. Physical disabilities aren’t defects.

Then what’s a true defect? A defect would be a negative attitude that can be harmful to yourself and others. Examples of that would be jealousy, greed, arrogance, pessimism, intolerance, and narcissism. As you can see, these dimensions include behaviors and attitudes that rarely balance out with virtues. They tend to destabilize any situation, conversation, relationship, or circumstance.

Accepting yourself is the secret to being more confident

If you want to accept your defects (that aren’t really defects but a consequence of your insecurity) work on self-acceptance. If you think that being overweight, being shy, or stuttering a little are defects, the first thing you need to do is work on your personal growth.

Self-acceptance, after all, is more powerful than self-esteem. Why? The latter doesn’t solely depend on a positive self-image. What other people tell you and what you think of yourself feed this psychological muscle. On the other hand, self-acceptance doesn’t require any external reinforcements.

In addition, Albert Ellis, creator of rational emotive behavior therapy, established self-acceptance as the cornerstone of his approach. He said, “But you always—yes, always—accept and respect yourself, your personhood, your being, whether or not you perform well and whether or not other people approve of you and your behaviors”.

If you learn to boost that area, you’ll think differently about all of the things you currently consider defects.

A guy by a window trying to accept his defects.

How can I accept my defects?

Aggressive communication, impatience, jealousy, an inability to understand other points of view… If you want to accept your most difficult defects, the ones that cause problems in your relationships with other people, the most important thing is knowing how to identify them.

Many people don’t have the humility of character to see and take responsibility for these obviously negative qualities. However, once you identify them, the next step isn’t to simply “accept them”. You don’t want to give these true defects space and permanence. What you want to do instead is transform them.

The act of transformation often requires knowing what’s going on behind each one. For example, jealousy and envy tend to hide low self-esteem. Aggressive communication is a manifestation of poor emotional management and a lack of social skills. As a result, the best way to transform these defects is usually with therapy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.