Self-Acceptance is more than Self-Esteem.

“Be — don’t try to become”
― Osho

I thought I understood self-esteem and self-acceptance, but I have come to find out that self-acceptance requires way more than just awareness. I always thought my self-esteem was the issue. I can be a people-pleaser at times and too nice for my own good. I thought that was tied to low self-esteem. But, as I have done more soul-searching, I realized that my esteem is and always has been high. I have boundaries. There is just less that bothers me, in terms of extending myself, but I do say no when I really don’t want to do something. I am laid-back so I can seem very accommodating because I don’t view much as worth fighting over.

So, it is strange that self-acceptance is my issue, but it is. It is because self-esteem are the boundaries you create for others. But, lack of self-acceptance is the boundaries you create for yourself. And, often, we are harsher and have higher expectations for ourselves than we ever place on others. We will forgive others and let them off the hook while continuing to punish ourselves. We will also judge others harshly for the things we can’t accept within ourselves.

I had no idea that self-acceptance was my issue. I write about my flaws all the time. I thought that meant that I was aware of them. And, I am, but I have also been secretly punishing myself for them. This is the danger of self-improvement. You can get so caught up in improving yourself that you don’t see that you are actually demonizing the things within yourself that you are trying to improve. I skipped over the acceptance part and went straight to trying to “fix my problems”.  I also set a goal in my mind that once I “fix myself” then I will find happiness and my life will be perfect. This also set me up for approval addiction. I have been searching for validation in others that I am “fixed.” Unconsciously, I slipped into my perfectionism and found myself behaving in certain ways trying to gain approval. I kept looking for the outside world to mirror back to me that I was accepted as a sign that I had permission to be happy.

It’s strange how you can think you are on the right track and end up right back where you started. I had a new mask under the guise of self-help. And, while my self-esteem was high and I could tell you everything about myself as if I felt at home within myself. I wasn’t accepting my flaws. I was secretly punishing myself in self-destructive ways. I was also pushing people away because I didn’t want them to see the things I didn’t accept about myself.

Once I became aware of it, I had to do something different. I have found that writing things down and getting them out of my head is a good way to lessen their power. So, I made a list of all the things I have had trouble accepting about myself.

The most notable was that I only allow myself to feel good when I am doing something destructive, such as drinking too much or avoiding something. I don’t validate the things that feel good when I’m not being destructive, I view them as being overindulgent. And, I go back to punishing myself for being overindulgent. To make it simple, good is bad and bad is good. And, good deserves punishment, so there is no way to win.

The next step was to look at this list of things and ask myself, Can I still love myself even if these things never change? 

And, I looked at the list. I felt my disappointment as I first looked at it. And, then I looked at it a couple more times, I distanced myself more and more until they were just words. I looked at it as if it was a list of flaws in someone else I loved and thought about if I would reject them if these were their issues. I thought about how there are people in my life who have similar issues and I never rejected them or looked at them as if they deserved to be punished.

Even, if I try to change some of the things and they never change, I am still a good person and worth loving. And, that is how I found self-acceptance. It’s not something I do once and I am forever changed. I have to remind myself whenever I feel needy and insecure. I have to accept that as a part of my experience. I have to forgive myself for being human. I have to be a best friend to myself and give myself the same compassion I would give to anyone else in the same circumstances.

So, the answer is yes.

 

How Worrying May Be Giving You Exactly What You DON’T Want

Hello friends:

It’s been some time since I’ve written. It’s my fault because I allowed life to get in the way of my writing. I stopped doing the thing I love. I apologize that I wasn’t here to inspire you, but, if I am honest, I forgot how to inspire myself for a little while.

I thought about if I should be honest about this. Some people may say, why should I listen to her if she can’t do it for herself? But, it is my hope, that some people will see themselves. We all try really hard to stay on our path, but something can come along that blows you away. I think it’s important to get back on the path and keep pushing.

So, I had to rededicate and recommit to pursuing my best life despite the setbacks and obstacles.

I will share more of my hiatus and journey back in later posts.

It’s on my heart to share something.

I heard the quote, “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” 

I have always been really good at worrying. I worry about things that affect me, other people and the world in general. I never really thought about how it might affect me and shape my world. The quote made me think of how I have worried myself into the exact situations I didn’t want to be in.

Whether you believe in the Universe or God, prayer is literal which is why you should be clear about what you want. So, I thought about if you are worrying how unclear it must be as a request.

Think of a prayer as placing an order with the Universe/God.

Let’s pretend you are in a restaurant and you are ready to place your order.

You say:

I would like a hamburger, but I’m worried that you might make it well-done when I prefer medium-well.  I would like cheese on it, but I’m concerned that you will give me provolone instead of American. I’m afraid that you will put Romaine lettuce on it when I would prefer iceberg. I don’t like red onions, but they always seem to be on my burger anyway. And there is nothing I want more than some ketchup, but I’m sure you will give me mustard.

When your burger arrives, it is well-done  with provolone cheese, romaine lettuce, red onion and covered in mustard.

You didn’t get what you wanted. As you gave your order, you explained to the server more of what you didn’t want than what you wanted. The server is busy. He doesn’t have time to decipher what you really mean. All he knows is that you are hungry and he needs to feed you. But, most of us know to never be this unclear in a restaurant. We understand that we have been direct and say exactly what we want or we won’t get it.

I am guilty of this as well. I spend so much time focusing on what I don’t want to happen that I end up seeing it happen over and over. Worry is simply focusing on what you don’t want to happen. It’s natural to worry. But, it’s important to cut it off and switch your focus to the outcome you want to see. Focus your feelings and thoughts on what you want to happen.

If you are going to obsess over something, make sure it is what you want rather than what you don’t want. Whether you realize it or not, you are sending the signal that it is what you want in your life.

Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff. – Robert Eliot

 

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Never Underestimate the Pain of Another, because Everyone is Struggling

 

Emotion

Emotion (Photo credit: rexquisite)

“Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.” ~Will Smith

I think one of the biggest mistake we make is to assume that we know what someone else is going through. Each person is a makeup of varied experiences that make them feel, think and respond in ways that are unique to that person. While there are similar ways that we behave, it’s impossible to know exactly how someone is feeling. Despite all of this, we have this amazing ability to empathize. I may not know exactly what you are going through, but I’ve felt some of the feelings before. This is how we connect.

When something shocking happens in someone else’s life, the people around them say, “I didn’t know there was anything wrong.” That may be true. But, more often than not, people saw signs but didn’t want to acknowledge them. It’s very hard for people not to show their state of mind. We leak it through our words and our actions, but in small ways. So, if you’re not really paying attention, you won’t notice it. Also, people are often projecting their will or abilities on to you. So, if they can handle it, they assume that you can handle it. Sometimes, people can watch someone physically or mentally crumbling before them, but assume that they will pull it together at some point. People often think that time heals all wounds, but time can cause them to fester and cancer within someone. Early intervention can save a person.

So, how does this happen? How do people become walking dead in front of our faces? It’s because we are raised to disown our true feelings if they are negative. The problem is that when you disown the bad feelings, you also disown the good feelings. How many times have you asked or been asked, “How are you today?”

You respond, “I’m fine.” The response is often no matter what your true feelings are, because we believe that people shouldn’t be burdened with our feelings. You may have just had an argument with your spouse. You may have found out you are going to be laid off. Or you could be dealing with financial issues. But, in that moment, you smile and pretend that your life is great and you are in a great emotional state for that person. It is true that you can’t walk around telling everyone your problems, because that won’t bring you sympathy. But, you have to be careful that you share your true feelings with someone. Disowned feelings have a way of showing up in you life in ways that can be destructive. You can sabotage your relationships, health and well-being when you feel like no one cares about your feelings. There should be one person in your life that you can tell your true feelings to who can receive them and allow you to process and feel your emotions. That one person is you. If you don’t allow yourself to feel how you feel, then you are not giving yourself the kindness you need from the world.

Be kind to others because they are feeling things that you may not completely understand. More importantly, remember to be kind to yourself. Whatever you feel is real. It’s real to you and that’s enough to make it worth your kindness.

 “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” ― Alexandrinus Philo

 

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