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 the Tough Times Make You Better

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But here was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that this was my life.”- Alfred D. Souza

The way we have designed life, many of us wait for vacations or weekends to feel like we are living. It’s in the hours between the hustle of daily life that we feel like we finally have the freedom to do what we want. I used to think, if I could just get my sh*t together then I could really live. Then, I would find myself smack dab in the middle of another problem or issue. In the moment when I felt like the seas were calm, suddenly life was rocking the boat again.

It took reading the above quote for me to understand that the problems weren’t outside of my life, but part of my life. The obstacles were apart of the process and I had to go through them to learn what I needed to learn. I kept thinking I lived my life in between the problems, but the problems were the meat of my life. They are the things that are feeding me and helping me to grow.

As people, we like to think that we are supposed to avoid pain, because it hurts. No one wants to hurt, but it really is the best way that we learn. Someone can warn you or tell you something, but you don’t always understand the depth or magnitude until you experience it for yourself. The test is often walking through the painful situation and coming out the other side. You come out with knowledge and compassion for anyone else who is or has gone through the same thing. It is what binds us in the human experience. No one gets out without experiencing pain and obstacles.

The next time you are going through something difficult and those words echo in your mind, “Is this my life?” Remember, that the answer is yes. It’s apart of it. But, the great thing is that the good times are also right around the corner waiting to make things better.

 

Why You Should Learn to Love Your Haters

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” -Winston Churchill

The truth about haters:

  • If you are doing something right, they are hating on your for that. The more haters you have, the more you are doing right.
  • If they are hating on you, they are spending their days thinking about you and following every thing you do. That means they are admirers. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference.
  • If someone can hate on you, they are obviously someone who is in pain or experiencing some type of hurt.
  • Rebelling against your haters imprisons you and you are as wrapped up in their thoughts of you.
  • It’s not personal. Let it go. Send them love and live your life.

As a reformed “people-pleaser”, I used to live by public opinion. If anyone had a problem with me, I either try to figure how to balance their happiness with my own or abandon my happiness for theirs. This led to me suffering in silence as the happiness was sucked out of me. There is no fun in living beneath your abilities to make others feel better.

The other option, which many take, is to become angry at the haters. You live your life in rebellion of the people who are hating on you. In the process, you becomes as hateful as the very people you are rebelling against. Rebellion is a prison. In not trying to please others, you are acutely aware of and constantly focusing on not meeting their needs. It also turns you bitter in the process.

So, if you can’t give in to them and you can’t rebel against them. What can you do? You can not care what they think. The only way to do that is to become self-approved. If you can develop faith in yourself and what you are doing, then you won’t be affected by the haters in your life. This can make for a more pleasant life, but I am offering you that there is an even higher step.

I’ve told more than one person that I pray for my enemies. Every time I say it, people say, “oh”, with a blank stare as if the thought had never occurred to them. It doesn’t surprise me because there was a time when I would never have thought of it either. Before my soul work, I would see any betrayal as something deeply personal. I had all these insecurities within me that were triggered when someone disappointed me so I immediately saw an act of betrayal as confirmation that my insecurities were true. See, this person left me so I’m not good enough.

Now, I see that in these types situations that there are two people in pain. Generally, a betrayal is less about you and more about the other person. If you find yourself in a situation where someone is attacking you for no clear reason, it has more to do with something in them that you remind them of. If you’re successful and they never pursued their dream, they attack you to hide their insecurity. If you are in a good relationship or single and they are in a stale, loveless relationship, they may try to make you feel bad. There are a many reasons why someone may fixate on you and try to project their insecurities and failures on you. But, you have two choices in that situation. You can see it as nothing personal against you. If you lash out in response, you should look at your own fears and insecurities and figure out why. It’s an opportunity to heal something within you.

Don’t feel bad if it takes some time before you can pray for your enemies. If not, let this post serve as a way to understand their motivation and pull yourself from the toxicity.  There will never come a time when everyone will love everything that you do. The only question that matters is whether you love what you are doing. If you do, then there is no one or nothing else to worry about. Send your love to your haters and keep giving them more things to hate on you for.

“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”- Oscar Wilde