“No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.” Robert Holden
As a teenager I was a pent-up bundle of nerves. The pressure of school, fear of fitting in, out-of-wack hormones, little sleep and a tremendous dance school schedule made for a pretty manic little being. It also bred a lot of self-hatred.
What I remember of my high-school years is pushing myself so hard to be better that I was actually pushing against myself. I was in a constant battle with my body, my skills as a dancer, my self-worth and self-image and I found that the harder I battled with myself the more I hated myself.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I could look back with some perspective and conclude that my constant put-downs actually stunted my progress. I was fighting myself so hard! I thought that telling myself I wasn’t good enough would instill fear and panic to be better, dance better, look better. It never worked. I was constantly dissatisfied, frustrated and obsessed. Looking back, I feel bad for the teenager I was. I wasted so many years putting myself down that there was no possible way I could improve.
Years later I could look at the situation I put myself in and see that I quite literally stunted my own growth. I began to grasp that hatred toward myself didn’t help, but I didn’t really understand why, until recently.
We women are so good at beating ourselves up, aren’t we? We do it constantly and I can bet that you do it for the same reason I did it. We think that if we are hard on ourselves today, that we will be better, do better, perform better tomorrow.
Here’s the thing though; Shaming ourselves doesn’t make us change.
You can’t bully yourself into being better.
“No amount of self-improvement will work without self-acceptance. ” Robert Holden
When I changed my tactic and decided to try this self-acceptance thing, everything became easier. I discovered that it’s infinitely nicer to live with a Self that is my best friend than one that is my hated enemy. It sounds dramatic, but the voices in our heads often are dramatic and so was the shift that occurred when I began to practice self-acceptance.
This isn’t a little fluffy fairytale where I learned my lesson and everything is magical from here on out. Self-acceptance is a daily practice. It’s a tuning in to my body, my mind, my spirit and some days, yes, I catch myself in those old negative thought patterns. The difference now is that I chose not to believe what they are telling me. We don’t have to believe every thought that comes into our minds. We can pick and chose the ones that are going to serve us. Ah, the beauty of free will! The key is being aware.
The practice of self-acceptance is extensive, but I do want to leave you with some actionable ways of getting there yourself. These tools are what helped me. My hope is that they help you too.
This isn’t some hooky hippy stuff. It took me a long time to try it, but now that I have I can say for a fact that I will be doing it for the rest of my life. Knowing who you are is the first step towards self-acceptance. Think about it, if you don’t know yourself how can you accept yourself? Meditation is the most effective way I know of doing this. You don’t have to sit for an hour, or even 30 minutes. Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and work your way up if you want to. There are plenty of resources on the Google if you want a little guidance. Trust me, the most profound lessons I’ve learned about life and myself happened on a little chair cushion under my bum on the floor of my room.
I want to preface this by saying movement has nothing to do with weight-loss or trying to change your body. That’s why I say “movement” and not “exercise”. While they do often overlap, I’m talking about the type of movement that feeds your soul, gets you intimately acquainted with your body and stirs your creativity. Any type of movement that leaves you feeling powerful and in awe of what your body can do is good. I urge you to discover your favorite type of movement and practice it regularly. Extra bonus points if you try something you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid to.
3. Study the Greats
If you don’t know how to begin to accept yourself, why not learn from those who have made it their life’s work to figure it out!? There is SO much wisdom out there. People have dedicated their entire lives to this subject and they really want to help you! Books, podcasts, videos and websites, no matter your preference there is a modality out there for you. My favorite books to get you started are “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson and “Loveability” by Robert Holden. My copies of both of these books are dog-eared and highlighted and totally beat up from constant re-reading. If you prefer a website that sends daily lessons and inspiration to your inbox check out Mastin Kipp’s Dailylove.com . If you want some truly great ladies that I learn from on a daily basis check out Gabrielle Bernstein, Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte.
To close, I want to share with you a prayer that I love and say when I feel I’m shifting into that negative space. It always seems to pull me back to center:
“O God, help me to believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.” -Macrina Weiderkher, a Benedictine nun
Now I’d love to hear from you. Do you struggle with self-acceptance? Which of these practices are you willing to try and why? Do you have some tips of your own? Tell me in the comments below. You may just help someone else by sharing!