Do you accept yourself, unconditionally?
If you are anything like me you might say "Yes, I accept myself". But for some reason the words feel shallow. Deep down inside you have that feeling like "I could probably be better".
Does this mean I'm are not accepting myself the right way?
What is the right way?
How do I know if I'm doing it properly?
These were just some of the questions bouncing around in my head when Shane recommended we do 7 days of self acceptance. The real problem, as I found out afterwards, is that I really didn't understand what "Self Acceptance" is. The words always made sense, but now I know there are practices one can do take self acceptance beyond understanding it.
I knew I was doing it correctly when I was able to feel it.
In this article I will share why self acceptance matters and what you can do to finally accept yourself as you are, right now. I invite you to try these practices, so that you may feel it too.
I'm bad at Self Acceptance
Self acceptance is something a lot of people struggle with. It is one of those things we think will get better at when we finally meet our goals. When I have the body I want and the income I desire, then I will be fully capable of accepting myself. Then, I will be good at it.
Until then I must just try harder and be better.
I had it all backwards!
Self acceptance is not a "state of being" that you will suddenly acquire at the end. It is not a destination. Self Acceptance is a practice. It is a series of habits that will guide your actions towards the things you want.
A lack of self acceptance will manifest itself negatively in your behaviour. It will be your source of self sabotage. It will define your personality and your very ability to succeed.
Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
"I misplaced my keys, I'm such an asshole."
I stopped exercising, again, I'm never gonna get in shape. I'm useless at good habits."
"I never going to get this right."
"I could have done it better."
Phrases like these came up for me far too often. I told myself "I don't really mean it", yet somehow they keep falling out of my mouth.
Constantly belittling myself and pushing myself as hard as I possibly could to "be better" was exhausting and draining. Why did I keep doing it though? Because of the ....
The Self Acceptance Myth
"If we accept ourselves as we are right now, we would not work on ourselves and make ourselves better."
How could I accept myself "in this state"? I'm nowhere near where I want to be.
This mindset breeds a really bad habit. Because even when we do achieve some level of success, we maintain a level of dissatisfaction of ourselves, so that we may be motivated to improve.
I was doing this all the time. And it got me nowhere. Running in circles. Dissatisfied.
I don't want to go into details of this topic here, but you can listen to Podcast Episode 11 to get some deeper insights.
Let's move on to the solution.
Gaining self acceptance starts with building awareness of your actions and behaviours. I want to share some of the exercises we did during our experiment.
Our 7 day experiment
As a team we carved out some time in our day to sit together and participate in some exercises. Most exercises involved either one or all of these three activities.
We would have a discussion afterwards to share (if we wanted to) anything that came up. I found it to be very useful to express ones experience to others. Please give these exercises a try and feel free to share your experience with us in the comments below.
Contemplation Exercise: Self Acceptance Escalation
Start with a simple statement that you think out loud to yourself. Hear your own voice in your head and say:
1. "I accept myself."
Repeat the statement for a while. Try it at least 10 times or do it for a minute.
Look for resistance.
Does something come up? If yes, make a mental note of it. If you ok with this statement, move on to make the statement more specific.
2. "I accept my self as I am"
Is there more resistance this time? Keep repeating this again and move on through the escalation.
3. "I love and accept myself as I am"
4. "I love and accept myself as I am, right now"
If you make any discoveries write them down. Share with someone you trust.
The first 3 statements where easy to say. There was no resistance. When adding in the "right now" in the fourth round, suddenly something changed. I felt resistance to the fact that if I had to look in a mirror in that exact moment I would not be entirely happy. The statement wouldn't be entirely true.
This was really an eye opening realisation. I could pin point something specific that I was dissatisfied with. I felt empowered to do something about it.
Writing Exercise: Story Examination
Begin with something you dislike about yourself, something you struggle to accept. This could very well be the thing that brought up resistance in the first exercise. Now, what is the story you tell yourself about this?
Set aside some quiet time and write the story out in great detail.
After you are finished writing, examine your story.
Is this really true? Do you really believe this?
Where does this come from?
Writing Exercise: The Friend Perspective
Imagine a friend came to you with the exact same problem you are dealing with. What advice or judgment do you give them?
Create yourself a hypothetical friend. Give them a name. And advise them what to do?
Keep doing it
These three exercises are a great start your self acceptance journey. They will revel how you treat yourself. They provided me a much needed perspective shift to be kinder to myself.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, but I have been my own worst enemy for a lot of my life. 7 days of deliberate self acceptance has offered me a huge jump in the right direction, but I accept that this is a long term thing. A life long project. The great thing is the more you do it the more you feel a deep sense of wanting the best for yourself, and there is no better motivation to succeed than that.
Let us know in the comments below if these exercises have helped you in any way.