What does it mean to really accept yourself?
It means to be very truthful and clear about not only your best qualities; but also your worst and still love, respect and appreciate yourself!
The adage, “the more we resist, the more it persists” is absolutely true when it comes to the sides of ourselves that we really do not want to accept. Hence, the more we try to suppress them, hide them, avoid facing them or avoid admitting them, the more we are destined to manifest them in ourselves and in our lives.
For example, many of us identify certain character traits within ourselves that we see in our parents and as soon as we become remotely aware that we may be like our parents (what we perceive to be the not-so-great-side), we so badly do not want to become them that we resist and deny these attributes. Hence, that’s where many of us end up – acting just like one or both of our parents.
For example, if one of our parents was unfaithful in their marriage, drank too much or was abusive, we often swear to ourselves that we will NEVER be like this. Ironically, this very issue will creep up on us and we will find ourselves in the same predicament in our own relationships – or we will attract a partner who acts out these behaviours.
It may not happen at first; but eventually it will. This is often called a “mid-life” crisis – it is essentially that time in our lives when we can no longer suppress the feelings or judgements that we had in our childhood about these behaviours of our parents and they resurface in order to be worked out.
My advice is to work on these emotions now – to learn to accept that as part of the human species, we are capable of being unfaithful, an alcoholic, or abusive and to focus on the feelings and judgements – justified or not – we have around these types of behaviours. As long as we are judging our parents or hanging on to unforgiveness for what they did to our family life or to us, we will inevitably follow in their footsteps or attract similar situations to our lives.
The other adage, “we don’t like in others what we don’t like in ourselves” is true as well. Every time we critique or have a judgement about another human being, it is always wise to ask these questions:
1. How are we like this person?
2. How are we ______(insert characteristic here)?
3. When have we ever ____________?
We will soon discover that at some time in our lives, we too have demonstrated this same behaviour as the very person we are judging. Why? Because we are human and if we share one inexplicable quality it is this: the ability to make mistakes and not be perfect!
I highly recommend reading Debbie Ford‘s book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” which details how, in our pursuit to be perfect, better than others, not have any “negative” characteristics, we chase after the light – the positive side and all the while try to hide the fact that we have a dark side. Consequently, this dark side continues to resurface within us and our lives and it is an un-ending treadmill we put ourselves on. Her book also offers exercises on how to learn to accept all sides of ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Debbie Ford says this about getting to a point of really accepting and loving ourselves:
“I think I would tell everybody that you have the right to love all of who you are. The dark and the light. The good and the bad. The human and the divine. The weak and the strong. The meanness and the kindness. The selfish and the selfless. That is why we are here. That’s real love. That’s learning to love. We’re here to learn to love all of who we are. When we love all of who we are, we love all of who everyone else is. It’s easy to love yourself when you wake up feeling good and you have enough money and enough health and all the things we look for. But is that even love? Our job is that stretch. How do I love myself when I’m broke, or how do I love myself when I feel insignificant, or insecure, or angry? That is our birthright. That’s when we return to wholeness. It is really the hardest thing a human can do – is to love all of one’s self.”
Here’s to celebrating ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly! Hopefully, after all is said and done and we have truly embraced the fact that we are NOT perfect, we can actually laugh at ourselves. When we can forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and our mistakes and get back up and try again, we know that we have synthesized our dark side with our light and it will be much easier for us to shine from a truly authentic part of ourselves.
It will also allow us to be less critical and judgemental of others. Let’s be honest, we never really feel good for very long when we judge others. When we can accept others, warts and all – we know then that we have truly learned to accept ourselves too!
Link to Debbie Ford’s website and book:
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