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.

 

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

Are You Using Bad Behavior to Test Love?

For a child, attention is survival. If a child doesn’t have the attention of their parent, they are unable to meet their vital needs. So children often learn that attention is important by any means necessary. A child will even take negative attention, if they can’t get positive affirmation or love. Bad behavior on the part of the child draws the attention of the parent by creating worry, anger and an energy exchange.

As the child grows older, this behavior may continue but it takes on a different form as society requires some form of sophistication with age. The former child has learned that any type of attention is good even when the exchanges are negative. It has been reinforced that misbehavior is the only way to get attention from the person that you love. This can often creep into relationships.

Negative self-image can wreak havoc in relationships. If you are using bad behavior, you are testing the limits of unconditional love. Instead of creating a bond that nourishes and inspires, the relationship is constantly tested by mistakes, misunderstandings and disrespect. One will continually create situations where they must be forgiven so they can recognize that they are being loved. The subconscious question at play in the relationship is: how bad do I need to be before you will give up?

“The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them.” ― Steve Hall

The bad thing about testing boundaries is that eventually you will reach the boundary. Once you reach it, you may not have an opportunity to repair the relationship. You may have pushed the relationship to its breaking point. A loving partner is not the same as a parent. While they may try to give unconditional love, constant testing can break the love bond and leave the partner feeling depressed and forgotten in the relationship. The focus is always on the needs of the misbehaving partner which leaves the other partner neglected.

The important thing is to recognize that you are in this pattern. The people in the relationship have two options: either walk away or heal. If you want to heal, the misbehaving partner has to learn how to recognize the love that their partner is already providing. They need to curb their bad behavior and focus instead on the needs of their partner. They have to learn how to earn love through good behavior rather than to continue to test love.

The other partner must create boundaries and let the misbehaving partner know that all past behavior is now unacceptable. The couple must create a new relationship that focuses on fulfilling the need of both partners. Bad behavior should not be the focus of the relationship and it shouldn’t be rewarded with attention. Instead, the couple should work on identifying ways to reinforce the good behavior.

When you get into a relationship, you have a great opportunity to heal yourself and the incredible power to heal someone else through your loving actions. Instead of going to a relationship and looking at it as a place to test or play games, you can view yourself as a healer and a student. You should delight in learning everything about yourself and your partner. The person that has chosen to be with you is giving you a gift. They are allowing you to see all the parts of themselves that they hide from the world. You are supposed to handle that information with sincerity and sensitivity. In the moments where both of you feel raw, vulnerable and judged are the moments when you have an opportunity to learn about yourself and the other person.

You don’t have to produce tears to know that someone loves you. You don’t have to push someone to walking away to prove that they will stay. It’s important to recognize the positive ways that the person is showing you that they love you. It’s important to redefine the relationship so both people in the relationship are feeling and appreciating love. A relationship is not where you go to die or to be the star, you go there to grow and learn. Your partner is a mirror of you and is reflecting to you the actions of your bad behavior, issues and inability to accept and recognize love. They are also reflecting to you the good aspects about you. That person loves things about you that you may or may not appreciate about yourself. You don’t have to test love. Life comes with its own tests. Love is what you are given so you don’t have to face the tests of life alone.

“If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

Let me know what you think. Share in comments.

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