Self-Acceptance is an Action
05 MARCH 2020
Imagine you are standing in front of a full-length mirror. Naked, totally exposed. You are asked to gaze at yourself for two minutes, fully accepting your body, your beauty, your imperfections, your mind and all your contributions to the world.
Now take a quick inventory of the feelings aroused by this suggestion. Did you feel curious, excited or ashamed or afraid? Interested or hesitant? Willing or unwilling? Did you discredit your awesomeness? Or did you reject the whole idea as something you would absolutely never do? Imagining the experience gives you an indication of your level of self-acceptance; actually doing it will tell you even more.
Self-acceptance is an action; it is something we do, not just something we feel. To say “I value myself” is an act of self-affirmation providing a base from which self-esteem develops.
When we practice self-acceptance we don’t have to condone or even like everything about ourselves. In fact, it’s almost certain we won’t. What it does mean is we recognize and accept our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, our bodies, our dreams — everything about us — as our own. We can also forgive ourselves for any harm or injury we have caused.“But I don’t want to be insecure and fearful (or afraid or judgmental or angry or fat or old or alcoholic or unkind or any of a dozen other things),” someone might say. “If I accept that about myself, it means I don’t want to change. Or I won’t change.”
Here’s the paradox: without acceptance of what is, it is impossible to change.
When we deny any part of ourselves we name that part alien or outside of ourselves. To say, “I don’t want to be _________, therefore I won’t accept that I am,” is self-rejection, the opposite of self-acceptance. To say, “I don’t want to be ________, but I am and I am willing to change,” is the kind of self-acceptance that gives birth to transformation.
Forgiveness, healing, and growth can only enter when awareness and acceptance open the door. According to Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, “Nothing does so much for an individual’s self-esteem as becoming aware of and accepting disowned parts of the self.”
The Sedona Method® of Release calls for us to “embrace” fully into our body and mind something we are trying to “release”. While it sounds counter-intuitive; by actually embracing the negativity we allow ourselves to release it into our Higher Self and show active faith in our safety within God. (www.sedona.com)
Here’s another exercise: Try on any emotion difficult to face — insecurity, jealousy, anger, or fear. Try it on as if it were a sweater or a pair of shoes. Breathe into it and focus on it; feel your feelings. Notice how, as you accept and experience it, the feeling begins to melt away.
If you are resisting — tightening your muscles, holding your breath — accept your resistance. If you deny the resistance, it will only gain in strength. As the saying goes, “What we resist persists”. But, like the feelings themselves, if you embrace the resistance, it will dissipate.
It’s not only negative feelings or thoughts we sometimes don’t accept; we refuse our positive sides, too. In fact, some of our bright sides can seem more frightening than the dark. What a loss it is to refuse to accept our excitement or joy, our genius or our beauty. How sad to be frightened of our brilliance, our ambition or our dreams.
It has been said the greatest crime we commit against ourselves is not that we deny and disown our shortcomings, but that we deny and disown our greatness.
At our very core, self-acceptance is what keeps us alive. It is the strength that keeps us moving; it is what gives us the courage to finally say “No!” or “Yes!” It is the hand that reaches out for help to get what we deserve by Divine Right.
To be self-accepting is to be FOR you, not against you. It is the birthright of you as an individual and every human being.