Why is self-acceptance so difficult?
Sometimes it can be so overwhelming. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be this sparkling version of us: excelling at work, a trusted friend, a loving partner, a devoted parent, fit, healthy and vital. Living the dream.
But usually, let’s face it, it’s just not all lining up. That healthy eating plan is out the window after two weeks, our motivation at work has dried up after a fiery post-holiday bounce, and our commitment to spending more time with loved ones is pushed to the side at the first sign of a big project at work.
When is it going to “click” so I can become this super version of myself I know is hiding inside? Don’t I want it bad enough? Am I just lazy? Have I not found the right “Why” for me?
How about we take a step back.
In my last two articles I’ve written about your “Who” – your innate identity that has been formed over many years by all your experiences, learnings and contacts with the world around you. Changing this will lead to lasting change, and the first step is creating awareness – awareness of the Truth, and not just a truth you’ve been telling yourself based on your own “evidence”; awareness of others, and how their perception of the world will always be different from yours, based on their own experiences; and awareness of your reactions to this stimuli, which leads to a choice in how you respond to each situation consciously.
A key part of this change, however, is acceptance of what is.
And this is often the hardest part.
Without acceptance, you may be trying to change someone else to act the way that you want, or become critical of some aspect of yourself, and become judgemental and defensive about it.
You are effectively fighting what is, and even trying to change what was – a fool’s errand!
Accepting yourself, others and situations, without labelling them as “good” or “bad” is something we as humans struggle with! Have you ever written down, just for one day, a “Judgement Journal” of all the times you judge yourself or others? It’s startling how incessant it is when you become aware of it.
How much time and energy is this sapping from you? How much negativity and anxiety does this cause you to experience? The anger, disappointment or regret that comes up when you are constantly mentally fighting what just “is”… well, my stomach goes into a flutter just thinking about!
How about this: we are, at any moment, the sum of all of our past experiences, good and bad, and we respond to each situation based on all the information we have at hand at that time, which in turn will affect our level of energy and commitment to the task in question. Accept that right now, you can’t do any better, or any different. It may not be your “ideal”, but this is what you have to give, right now. This is your best.
Of course, we can change this, and your best tomorrow may, and likely will, look different. Internally, you may have gained a new perspective, or learned something new. Physically, you may have gotten stronger, or slept better. Accepting what is, instead of diving into a judgement vortex, frees us up to focus our energies on making small changes that will help us move closer to this “best” version of ourselves, the one more aligned with our ideal “Who”.
This is a concept we all struggle with as humans – it’s not easy to examine our perceived failures and shortcomings, and truly accept them.
Acceptance allows us to turn forward to a fresh page in our life’s journal and consciously ask ourselves: What next?