Without self-acceptance… self-improvement won’t work!
I’ve spent the last few years trying to “get it together”… after a lifetime of destroying everything I touched. Nothing about my life is conventional, and I am not expecting an invitation from the Republican party to speak anytime soon… That is a heartache I’ll have to survive somehow. Since I’ve gotten sober, I’ve spent lots of time in universities, blogging, finding love and living. Most importantly I’ve found “Rob” buried under much confusion. Quite honestly, there’re lots of things I just don’t care about anymore. Walk in my front door… look around and take a big whiff and you’ll realize I’m telling the truth.
I haven’t even scratched the surface on what to do with my life or how to live without regrets or fears. What I’m learning is that self-acceptance and self-improvement are critically important. But they are not the same things… somethings I’ve got to accept others, I’m free to improve.
I don’t know what the world did before Oprah and all her happy living crap… I hated her when I was drunk… now she’s making sense. She didn’t become a zillionaire by being uninformed, so today I listen. Recently, she explained the difference between self-acceptance and self-improvement and suddenly the lights came on… this is what I’ve come to realize.
It is essential you understand the difference between self-acceptance and self-improvement if you are to discover your real value. Self-acceptance starts with the awareness that you are whole, innately good; lovable just as you are, and endowed with God-given talents and qualities to share with the world.
Self-improvement usually starts with the belief that something is lacking in you. Thus, your ego sets about working on itself, proving itself and making itself into “a somebody” that wins admiration and applause. The problem with self-improvement is that you are trying to improve upon a self that you have not really gotten to know yet. Self-improvement causes you to overlook your true nature. No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.
So often, self-improvement is full of musts, the oughts, and shoulds. For example, you must buy these jeans or your butt is not going to look very good. You ought to get eight hours of sleep every night. You should be more like your overworked, aggressive boss if you are ever going to get ahead at the office. The essence of who you are is already inspiration-packed, wisdom-infused and blessed with talents and gifts. You do not need to build a successful image of yourself. You are already good enough. What would happen if you stopped should-ing on yourself? Can you see that the real you is far better than the one you are trying to sell to the world? So much of what I present to the world isn’t the real Rob.
When you lack self-acceptance, your personality begins to compare itself negatively with 6 billion other people on the planet. As long as you refuse to love and accept yourself, you will tell yourself that you are not beautiful enough, rich enough, loved enough, lucky enough, successful enough or anything-else enough. No amount of makeovers, reinventions or new beauty secrets will do the trick. Deep down, you’ll still feel like a nobody, but only because you are identifying with the self-image rather than with the authentic you.
Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into who you wish you were for long enough to find out who you are. When you believe in yourself, and you are true to yourself, you will experience the miracle of self-acceptance, which reveals just how uniquely beautiful you are.
Without self-acceptance, you feel exiled from yourself, experiencing the world as an unfriendly universe. Life feels like hard work, a big struggle, with obstacles everywhere. Your ego feels helpless, incapable and ultimately defeated. Only when you make contact with your true nature again will you find clarity, flow and inspiration.
Self-acceptance is your home. It is where you return to find yourself again. When self-acceptance is low, you experience a ceaseless anxiety that causes you to doubt yourself, to be indecisive, to wobble, to question everything and to play safe. You search outside yourself for validation, approval and authority.
Self-acceptance helps you increase your overall trust in life. The more you accept yourself, the more you trust your innate goodness, wise heart and natural intuition.
People who practice self-acceptance are radically honest with themselves. They are willing to be accountable for their part in every situation. They do not hide behind blame, excuses or any other defense mechanisms because instinctively they know that the truth of who they are is strong enough to face everything. Self-acceptance reveals your inner strengths, and though it sounds counterintuitive, some of these strengths can include being vulnerable, owning your sensitivity, being less independent, listening to feedback, asking for help and opening your heart.
Self-acceptance encourages you to accept your limitations. Without self-acceptance, you see limitations as obstacles; with self-acceptance, you see limitations as opportunities. For example, if you can accept that you are not strong enough to do something by yourself, an opportunity presents itself for you to receive extra help and inspiration. You free yourself up, see yourself differently and discover a source of strength that is far greater than that of your ego.
For real change to happen, we need to understand just how much damage we cause ourselves through self-criticism. By letting go of self-criticism and self-judgment, the power of self-acceptance radiates throughout our very self, evoking a shift in our self-perception. When we move past judgment, then the real healing begins!