Acceptance, Pt. 1: Acceptance of Self
“What is more freeing than to laugh at our weaknesses and to be grateful for our strengths? To know the entire package called ‘us’ – with all our feelings, thoughts, tendencies, and history – is worthy of acceptance and bringing healing feelings.”
– Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go
Acceptance is a difficult concept in some ways, but so very important to feeling that divine sense of inner peace. For me, I got the idea of acceptance intellectually, but it was a LONG time before my emotions caught up. I also discovered that before I could accept anything or anyone else, I had to accept myself first.
That meant accepting absolutely everything about me, present and past. That meant not beating up on myself if I didn’t have a great day at work or found myself butting heads with someone. That meant making peace with my past, even the parts that had been shameful for me, because I can’t do a single thing to change any of it … nor should I. It brought me to exactly where I am today.
This gets back to that “higher power” I was talking about before. Fundamental to acceptance is the belief that this higher power has us exactly where we are supposed to be at any given time. We don’t need to be any better or any different than we are already for this higher power to love us unconditionally and perfectly. There’s nothing we can do that will make this higher power – which I call God – love us more or love us less. Through that, I came to understand that I was worthy of love. I am worthy.
We live in a society that thrives off the message that we should be more, we should be different. The entire beauty industry is built off this idea! We should weigh less, we should have whiter teeth, our homes should be cleaner and more organized, we should have more “stuff.” It can be hard to stay with the concept that we are “perfectly imperfect” and just fine as-is when it seems we face a barrage of messages telling us otherwise.
Nonetheless, realize that you are a beautiful and precious child of God. You are exactly who and what you are supposed to be, right this very minute. Say it, think it … and someday you’ll believe it.
Here are a few things that can help put you on the path to self-acceptance:
1. Let go of perfectionism. So you didn’t have a great day at work and didn’t achieve everything you set out to do. There are dirty dishes in your sink. You didn’t make it to the gym and you ate cookies all afternoon. Now you’re in a cycle of self-abuse, beating yourself up for all these “shortcomings.” Guess what? You’re HUMAN. You won’t succeed 100 percent of the time. All of that is OK. You’re still worthy. (Seriously, I think I’ll be writing an entire post about the dangers of perfectionism. It’s an ugly thing.)
2. Make peace with your past. There’s a saying: “The past is not the present.” Another way I like to think of this is to say that you are not your mistakes, even really big mistakes. Your failures don’t represent who you are. Live today in a way that aligns with your spirit, and realize you can’t do a thing about what happened yesterday, or years ago. (Though if a particular episode is really, REALLY eating at you, and you know you’re at fault, consider making a formal apology if it will help you let it go. This is another topic that I will address further in another post.)
3. Use affirmations. Stuart Smalley might have made affirmations seem corny, but they can and do work. There are a litany of affirmations available online and you can even get them delivered straight to your inbox. If you find one that speaks to you, tape it to your bathr
oom mirror. (This post about 100 affirmations is a good place to start.)
4. Stop worrying about what other people say or think about you. Not gonna lie, I had to really work at this one, and I still do. In this regard, sometimes even the people closest to us can be the most damaging. Other people’s opinions don’t make up who you are, and remember, they’re also looking at the world through their own lens. Often the people who are most critical of others are doing it because they don’t want to look at themselves. Don’t fall into their trap. Love yourself more, and overcome their negativity.
How do you grow love for yourself?