How to let go of the shame that holds you back

“When you know better, you do better.”

Maya Angelou

That’s definitely true. I’m all about growth — but as you grow, do you ever look back at younger, less grown versions of yourself and feel shame?

We are so hard on ourselves, and that doesn’t just hurt us while we are quietly sitting in our bubble of past memories. Hating on our younger self hurts our future self too. Subconsciously, when we are in self judgment, whether we realize it or not we are holding ourselves back.

I feel that we could all use a little more self acceptance in our lives, and perhaps also a better understanding of what it really is!

What is self acceptance?

I think many people are put off the idea as they consider it to be about letting themselves off the hook, or letting themselves go. And I don’t think that’s quite it.

For me, self acceptance is about understanding that we are not perfect and probably never will be, as perfection is something of a myth anyway. It’s about acknowledging that our growth is a journey, not a destination. It’s about understanding that in order to get better than you were yesterday, you had to be starting from somewhere — and that ‘somewhere’ is nothing to be ashamed of.

For me, self acceptance also ties in very closely with knowing who you really are, or becoming who you were, before society and other influences stepped in and programmed you.

You are you quirks and special interests. You are what you believe in. You are your passions and your purpose. You are your gifts to the world.

The chances are, you are probably not who your parents and teachers moulded you to be, no matter how much that was done from good intentions and love.

It’s all about your journey

But of course, before you can peel back those programmed layers, you will embark on a messy and difficult journey. You will likely struggle with the gulf between where you are now, and where you want to go — and that’s all completely okay.

Life is all about journeys. None of us are just dropped onto earth with our best life mapped out for us. We have to draw our own map. And don’t you think that’s part of the fun?

If we didn’t have a journey to go on, then we wouldn’t have the learning and growing experiences that life is all about.

So when it comes down to accepting yourself, totally, past ‘mistakes’ and all — remember that it was your journey. Mistakes show that you learned and that you grew.

Share your gifts with the world

I said before that you are your gifts to the world. I think the bottom line is that you can’t share your unique set of gifts with those you could be helping, until you own them yourself.

When you embrace and accept all of yourself, your gifts included, then you begin to show up in the world in a way that is nothing short of magical. I’ve seen it time and again with my Global Luminary mentees and all the wonderful Lightworkers I’ve been blessed to meet and work with, all over the globe.

Our world need more love and light, and when you are aligned with your gifts you can share them with the world too. What better reason could there be?

Originally published at on April 23, 2019.

Dr. Andrea is your personal empowerment and transformation catalyst. She is a respected integrative medicine physician, acupuncturist & author specializing in longevity and life transformation with positive psychology and mindfulness. With multiple appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz and CNN she is recognized globally as a medical-wellness expert inspiring and teaching you how to live with vitality & purpose.


  • Dr. Andrea Pennington

    Chief Wellness Officer, Integrative Physician | Resilience | Healing Trauma | Holistic Health | Free Ebooks @ &


    Dr. Andrea Pennington is an integrative physician, acupuncturist, meditation teacher and a #1 international bestselling author of several books. Dr. Andrea’s extensive study of medical nutrition, positive psychology and neuroscience led her to create a health media platform, In8Vitality, blending ancient wisdom and modern science to empower you to recover from stress and burnout. All of her books, corporate wellness programs, documentaries and products are ethically and consciously designed for enhanced vitality and life mastery.  Andrea is also a documentary filmmaker, international TEDx speaker, and health technology advocate. As both a healer and teacher she is also sought-after media personality who has shared empowering insights on resilience on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Dr. Oz Show, iTV This Morning, CNN, the Today Show, Thrive Global and as a news anchor for Discovery Health Channel. Now, as Founder of the #RealSelfLove Movement Andrea speaks globally to reduce the stigma of mental illness and to support people on their journey to authentic living. In Andrea's latest book, The Real Self Love Handbook, she explores her personal journey from depression to real self-love and how The Cornerstone Process, a 5-step self-discovery process is setting people free from limiting beliefs due to trauma and adverse childhood experiences. Other popular anthologies include Holistic Healing and The Top 10 Traits of Highly Resilient People, each compiled by Dr. Pennington.