“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” – Brene Brown
Accept yourself as you are, with all your imperfections, foibles and insecurities. You might be thinking, “Has the author gone mad?” Surely as a self-empowerment blog I should be proclaiming the virtues of personal development rather than advising readers to accept their insecurities – right? Whilst I unreservedly embrace the tenet of this thinking, it was British psychologist Robert Holden who said, “No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.”
The self-help industry has become a billion dollar business globally. Whilst there is merit in improving ones outlook on life, researchers suggest that 77% of everything we think is negative. Try this little experiment for the next few hours. Repeat out loud, (if you are alone that is) every thought you have and notice how often it is negative in nature. Even a thought as simple as, “I can’t be bothered getting out of bed this morning” or “The weather is miserable today” is considered a negative thought. Your subconscious mind interprets every internal conversation as empowering or disempowering. It manifests into form the relevant circumstances and events according to the mental stimuli it receives.
Whilst it is not my intention to paint a grim picture of the mind at work, something has to give if we are to attain peace and happiness in our life. Allow me to return back to the topic – self-acceptance is the reason why we entertain disempowering thoughts. I opened this article with a quote from Brené Brown who wrote a wonderfully insightful book called The Gifts of Imperfection. Her quote reminds us that owning our story and loving ourselves is the greatest gift we can bestow upon oneself.
I’ve often overheard both sexes refer to others as being damaged goods or having baggage. The inference, tied to intimate relationships denotes the likelihood of a person to bring their emotional trauma (as baggage) into a relationship.
Instead of viewing oneself as damaged goods, we should strive to accept ourselves exactly as we are. This does not underscore the need for continual self-improvement, yet it flies in the face of disowning parts of ourselves that we dislike. Accepting yourself as you are means embracing the darkness and the light – the Shadow Self.
I was having this conversation with an acquaintance the other day, when she said something that stirred an inner realisation. She suggested there comes a point in person’s life when it becomes too difficult to keep up this false image of who you think you are. Rather than defend this image, it is easier to own your junk and embrace it instead of going to war with it.
She used a poignant phrase to convey self-acceptance – “yep I am all those things.” She was suggesting that I am all those things which I love about myself, yet I am all those things which I dislike. How can you disown any part of yourself and remain at peace? I am angry, I am jealous, I am anxious, I am self-critical, yet I am loving, I am kind, I am at peace and I am whole.
From this perspective, I can be all these things and remain whole and perfect. To focus only on my imperfections underscores the uniqueness of my other qualities. By focussing on my weaknesses I give them energy and power over me. I am choosing to identify with my shortcomings, rather than see them as one aspect of my being. As I embrace them they meld into the light of my being.
The quote, darkness is the absence of light highlights the wholeness of who we are – loving, eternal spiritual beings. In his book, The Deepest Acceptance, author Jeff Foster reminds us of this truth, “Deep acceptance always destroys our false stories. What you really long for is a deep intimacy with your own experience – the deepest acceptance of every thought, every sensation, every feeling.” The only way to create deep intimacy is through complete self-acceptance and integration of your being – rather than going to war with it.
You go to war when you disown parts of yourself which you dislike. Liberate yourself from this unworthy cause by viewing yourself from the perspective of wholeness. An apple is still an apple despite its flaws, imperfections and discolourations. Those working with wood will remind you of the uniqueness of the material, highlighting the imperfections in the wood’s grain and texture as being a desirable quality.
Own your own story, embrace your experiences and live your truth. Freedom is attained the moment you accept yourself as you are – not as you think you should be. It is liberating not having to defend ones image any longer. Drop the image and persona by embracing the affirmation, “yep I am all those things” as the bedrock of your being. You are yin and yang, you are winter and spring, you are light and dark. Without these elements how would you experience the contrasts of life?
Allow this truth to meld into your soul so that you may rewrite a new script for your life.