We all want to feel good about ourselves. To be able to live in peace and harmony with who we are. For this to happen we need to embrace and accept all parts of ourselves. The good, the bad, the ugly.
Yes, we all have qualities and flaws. We all have a side we hide from others, often also from ourselves. Let us call it our shadow side. Usually this shadow companion dances around in the shadows of our inner world – hence its denomination.
Maybe you ignore or avoid its existence; maybe you acknowledge it, but do not know how to deal with it. In other words, some of you live in complete oblivion of your own flaws; while some of you recognize your flaws, though are not sure how to live with them.
There is a third scenario where this shadow companion is truly embraced and welcomed into your life, without shame, guilt or self-judgment. This is what I mean by self-acceptance.
So I ask you right away, how close is the person you are to the person you want to be? Take your time to pause here and think it through. How aware are you of your qualities and flaws? How do you usually deal with your shadow companion? How much power do you give to your negative experiences, thoughts and feelings? How often do you celebrate your achievements and your successes?
Among several ways to practice self-acceptance, today I share with you 5 of which I believe will bring you closer to accept who you are. Some of them are topics we have addressed in the past weeks, as they are connected to how well you know yourself and how committed you are on taking this journey of self-discovery.
1. Be compassionate and kind: There is a saying “You are your worst critic”. You are the one judging yourself harshly, including when you are judging or feel judged by others. Cultivate self-compassion by leaving judgment aside and creating space to acknowledge your emotions and thoughts, without letting them overpower you. You need to be patient with yourself and accept your flaws. Write a letter of encouragement to yourself, take care of yourself through exercise, a balanced diet and a good night sleep, be mindful of the present.
2. Believe in yourself: You are unique and talented. Acknowledge your strengths and skills, how they reflect in your accomplishments and successes, even – and especially – during challenging times. Let your confidence Self shine through your strong and powerful being. Write down a list of your top 5 strengths, ask your closest friends and family what they appreciate most about you, surround yourself with people who support you and bring a positive influence into your life.
3. Stay positive: This is a tough one, I know. Mostly because we tend to give more attention and power to our negative experiences and thoughts than to the positive aspects of our life. It is something you can practice on a daily basis though. Whenever your chatterbox gets louder and before your inner critic goes into autopilot, try to change your inner script. Practice your positive self-talk, listen to positive affirmations, write a list of things you are grateful for.
4. Forgive yourself: Maybe you are a master when it comes to forgiving others, and if not, now is a good time to start. Forgive others for what they have said or made you feel, even when they do not realize. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, your flaws, for things you feel you are responsible for, even when you are not. Forgive yourself whenever you have derailed from your path and had to start over, or when things do not change as quickly as you want them to.
5. Embrace your fears: I am sure your fears are all well justified. You have had bad past experiences and you come with a heavy baggage. Meaning that you are afraid, mostly afraid of the unknown and unfamiliar. When you face your fears, you are stepping out of your comfort zone, which is scary – I completely get you! – though also liberating. Do not let your fears stop you from going to places, meeting new people, diving into adventures, falling in love. Do a list of things you are afraid of and think of different ways to deal with these fears. Ask yourself what would you do, or say or go if fear were not in your way.
Self-acceptance is a journey of a thousand roads. Sounds arduous?! No one say this would happen overnight. Even when you are already on that road, it does not mean that it is the only road towards self-acceptance. There will be times when the road gets bumpy and rough. Past experiences, external circumstances in your current reality, cultural and societal factors will come into play.
Now it is not the time to quit. You keep going as your life depends on it, because it actually does. Accepting yourself for who you are gives you the freedom to be. To be yourself. Would you want to live a life sitting next to your worst enemy or your best friend?