You don’t have to be perfect to love yourself. Self-acceptance–accepting the things about yourself that you might otherwise judge as ‘bad’–is a big piece of loving yourself. After all, love isn’t conditional. It’s not, I’ll love myself after I lose 5 pounds, or get a new job, or things calm down. Love is a force, like gravity. It doesn’t only work on Tuesdays. It’s always available to you, waiting patiently for you to remember that it’s there. So let’s reconnect with it.
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I’m going to start with a quote Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun who has written a whole slew of fabulous books that deliver deep wisdom in everyday, funny language. This is from her book, The Wisdom of No Escape, which has saved my bacon on numerous occasions.
She writes, “Our true nature is not some ideal we have to live up to. It’s who we are right now, and that’s what we can make friends with and celebrate.”
What she calls make friends with and celebrate, I’m calling acceptance.
When we accept ourselves–our talents, traits, and flaws–other people follow our lead. Because people look to us for how they should treat us. If we accept ourselves, they will accept us too–and perhaps we will open a door in their mind that they could accept themselves, too.
Accept Yourself and Stop Judging
The flip side of that is that when we accept ourselves, we’ll be more accepting of other people too. After all, it’s hard to do for others what you can’t do for yourself. When someone is driving you crazy, they either represent something about yourself that you haven’t accepted yet, or some quality that you haven’t allowed yourself to develop yet, because on some level it feels improper or not right.
For example, I used to judge folks who drove fancy cars. I’d see women roll in to the whole foods parking lot in their Mercedes and Gucci sunglasses and just think they were such a-holes. It took me a while to uncover that really, I wanted money to burn on leather seats and a prestige logo. But I had grown up with the belief that rich people were jerks. So it was easier to judge those folks than it was to accept that I wanted to earn more money.
Once I saw and made peace with that, well, guess what… I moved up a couple income brackets. Of course I had to put myself out there for new and better paying things, it wasn’t like a big check magically appeared in my mailbox. But because I accepted that desire, I actually took the steps that got me where I wanted to go.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment for the day is to make a list of the things you accept about yourself. Yep, I mean get an actual piece of paper and write down the words “I accept my:” and then write down a list of everything that comes to mind. My curly hair, my tendency to be cranky when tired, my thickening middle, my ability to write, my big heart, my need for alone time, my love of cooking… I mean, go crazy. It doesn’t have to be all good stuff or all bad stuff. Just whatever pops into your head is perfect.
The more you become conscious of accepting yourself, the less hard you’ll have to try to ‘fix’ yourself, the less energy you’ll spend on feeling bad about yourself, and the more you’ll be able to love yourself as you are. It’s a funny paradox that accepting something as it is helps that thing improve. Because the flip side of acceptance is resistance, and what we resist, persists.
So just in case you have any fear of “Yes, but if I accept myself as I am how will I ever get better?” (and because you’re listening to a podcast called How to be a Better Person I know that’s something that matters to you) remember that. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means letting go of resistance, and that opens the door to all kinds of wonderful things.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’ll talk you through a practical way to send yourself some love, so that this all becomes less theoretical and more experiential.