A Note on Self-Acceptance
You don’t need to change who you are. You do not need to be ‘fixed.’ Take a breath and pay attention to who you are in this moment.
This may seem contradictory to the self-improvement culture of our society right now (...don't get me started on the 'betterment trap' we live in these days). Yes, change and self-improvement can be enormously helpful, and you are likely on my website because you have been thinking about ways to feel better with yourself. I get it. But what is essential before we can make lasting change, or before we can feel 'improved,' is the overall acceptance of ourselves as we are right now. Because without accepting yourself, truly accepting yourself, change is very, very unlikely. Self acceptance, and self awareness must come first.
Think about the people in your life. Do you know anyone who seems to truly, wholly, accept themselves? Maybe, maybe not, because self-acceptance does not look any certain way. Self-acceptance is not extroversion. It is not the class clown. It is not the person in the best clothes. It is not the person who posts amazing vacation photos to Facebook. Self-acceptance is completely internal. You cannot see someone’s acceptance of themselves. Instead, it is an inner state of calmness, knowing that you are doing the best that you can do in the moment that you are in.
You are always doing your best. I stand strongly by this statement, because, hey, if you truly could have done better, then you would have. In each unique moment, you are doing what you are capable of to the best of your ability in that moment. Maybe tomorrow you can do differently, but for whatever reason (fatigue, distraction, a headache, etc.) you cannot do it today. And that is just fine.
So forgive yourself for your past mistakes. You’ve always been doing the best that you can. Accepting yourself means accepting every part of yourself. Enjoying a few too many Twinkies lately (if there is such a thing)? Notice this, and investigate why. Accept that as a part of your current reality, without criticizing yourself in the process. Stop judging yourself. Take the drama out of it. It simply is what it is. By taking the time to learn about yourself, listen to yourself, and accept yourself, you are giving yourself the power to choose what to do about the issue. Stuck in the grasp of depression? Accept that you are dealing with that by understanding as much as you can about where it’s coming from and what impact it has on your days. Keep track of it and be aware of it. Then you can choose what to do about it. Remove shame and judgment. Just observe yourself factually. Often times, just accepting these struggles helps you to feel better and more in control. And once you get an ounce of feeling better, you can take that energy and run with it to feel even better.
Society often encourages us to hide our ‘problems’ and appear happy and ‘together’ no matter what, especially here in the midwest. Honestly, that just isn't realistic and places unfair expectations on us all. You are human. It’s okay to have sad days. It’s okay to get a little loopy sometimes. It’s okay to make mistakes. Relieve yourself of the shame of not living up to others’ standards. Because then, you can do the most important thing: you can live up to your own.