I’ve struggled with this word for most of my adult life, especially when it comes to self-acceptance.
At 40 years old, I’m really trying to accept myself as-is. I’m attempting to become one with my strengths and weaknesses, to really know who I am. But self-acceptance isn’t a box you check, and then walk away from. It’s more of a quest…full of sunny days and thunderstorms at night.
Self-acceptance isn’t about “accepting” all that’s in front of you – it’s about acknowledging who you are, your faults and knowing when you need to make changes.
If I’m unhealthy, I have the power to change that.
If I’m unhappy, I have the power to change that.
It’s like the line from the Serenity Prayer – to accept the things I cannot change; have the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
People CAN change, but only on their own terms.
I’m a verified people pleaser. I want everyone to like me and be happy with me. But over the last 40 years of struggle I have finally come to terms with the face that while every person is capable of growth and change, I cannot be the one to change them. That’s completely on them. I can only change MY mindset about that particular person. Sometimes it means accepting another person’s faults and learning to live with them. Sometimes it means letting that person go for your own well-being.
That’s a hard one for me. I’m guessing it’s hard for most people.
I think a lot of us feel that we have to be friends with people because, well, you’ve always been friends. But people grow up. And you may not like who or what people become.
THAT IS OKAY.
I’m not sure when we started thinking that we had to be friends with all people. If you feel that a person brings you down, it’s okay to let go. If you feel that a person brings out the worst in you, it’s okay to let go. If someone is simply not your cup of tea, it’s okay to let go.
Letting go isn’t just about relationships. It’s about all the things that we put pressure on ourselves to do, but that, deep down, don’t really matter to us. Not everyone is going to be a fitness guru. Not everyone is going to be a great cook. Not everyone is going to have a house that looks like it came straight from a Pottery Barn catalog.
I have always wanted to act and perform. And for the last ten years, I’ve said that I didn’t have the time for it. But the truth is, if I really wanted to do it, I would find the time. I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’s just not a priority for me right now. I’m content singing with my kids in the kitchen and going to see other people perform on Broadway or at our local theater. Maybe in 20 years, I’ll decide I want to do it again, maybe I won’t.
What we wanted in our twenties and even thirties may not be what we want now. I think that all of us have some inner conflict with that. Something may have been part of our hopes and dreams for so long, that when it leaves us, we’re not quite sure what to do with it. That’s part of the challenge of self-acceptance.
I am not that person anymore, and I need to come to terms with that.
Quieting your inner voice
We all have that inner critic. It talks to us, sometimes mocking us, when we try new things and fail. Or when things don’t turn out the way we’d hoped. Or when a new dream pops into our head and it tells us that it’s stupid.
It’s important for us to recognize when we’re falling into the act of self-sabotage. Our inner critic is simply fear manifesting itself. We are all afraid – of failing, of not being loved, of not being accepted. It’s the human condition. But we can’t let the fear win.
I read an article the other day that said your inner critic is a child, which is probably true, considering that’s unfortunately when she was formed. So we need to treat her like a child. Instead of getting all riled up and angry when she makes us a feel bad, we need to treat with her with love and compassion.
It’s okay to look at her and say “I appreciate that you are looking out for me; that you’re trying to save me from future embarrassment or failure. But I deserve to be happy. I deserve to try this. And if it doesn’t work out; at least I gave it my all.”
Embark on the quest.
At the end of the day, self-acceptance isn’t a one time thing. It’s a fluid state, a journey. But a journey I’m totally ready to take. I’ve got a lot of life left and I want to make sure the person I look at in the mirror everyday is proud of who she is.