The misconceptions of self acceptance are in two parts: 1). We think there is a threshold where once we arrive, we cease to care anymore. All goals go away. All discipline out the window. We settle. Get complacent. We “let ourselves go,” because why even try? If all is well within ourselves and all is accepted there is nothing to be motivated for and/or change; OR 2). We believe that we will live in this place of dreamy, rose-colored glasses towards ourselves. We never see our flaws. We’ve accepted it all. We no longer doubt. We love every ounce. We’ve arrived!
Maybe self acceptance isn’t so black + white. Maybe there is a medium space that the two misconceptions meet, creating a more balanced, level-headed definition of what it can really look like in our lives. Below is what we believe self acceptance actually looks like:
1|6: Letting go of the false ideals you’ve had about yourself. And grieving those ideals.
Part of learning how to truly accept yourself is realizing that you have been holding yourself to ideals and standards that aren’t realistic nor are they personalized. Sometimes you have to stop and and ask yourself, Are these ideals actually hurting me (because I cannot even attain them)? If so, it’s time to release and grieve them. And believe us, the grieving part will revisit over and over again.
2|6: Learning how to release the expectations that others/your culture/your society has put on you.
We are constantly being fed this idea that you should be (fill in the blank). You should look like this! You should do this! You should have this! By taking a step back and seeing those false ideals you have placed upon yourself, it becomes even more clear that most times they were placed on you by standards of your culture, family, and/or society.
3|6: Knowing the path back to love when you begin to doubt yourself.
Expect to doubt yourself. You can’t get rid of these “negative” feelings no matter how hard you try (remember how we’ve talked about what the shadow is?) Instead, understand that it isn’t your responsibility to rid yourself of doubt, your responsibility is to know yourself and what you need to get back to love when doubt shows up.
4|6: Embracing and learning from your shadow self (the parts of yourself that you reject).
The point isn’t to rid the “bad,” it is to learn how to see them clearly and how to integrate it back into our lives through compassion and neutrality. If you need a great exercise on befriending your shadow, read this spiRITUAL.
5|6: Surrendering to the reality of who you really are. Right now.
There will always be something you won’t love about yourself. And that is where surrender comes in. It’s an acknowledgment of where you are right in this very moment, even if in this moment it feels as if you are struggling. Being able to present with yourself in the moment is part of self acceptance. It isn’t resolve. It isn’t giving up. It’s about using even the “smelly” parts of yourself to awaken compassion within.
6|6: Knowing this is continuous work.
We will never arrive and live from this sweet spot where we never have any issues. This is continuous work because our energies are constantly ebbing and flowing with the complexities of life. When we understand this, we can meet ourselves with kindness. We no longer try to mask our feelings, say a mantra to escape our emotions, or even fake it until we make it. Instead we greet those uncomfortable parts ourselves with love and can say, “Oh hello, I see you there. What do you need today?”