Many of us have been taught the same lesson at some point in our lives: we need to realize our self-love and self-worth before we can be truly content in life and in relationships with others.
Although it may seem overplayed, this is exactly right: our self-acceptance is the precursor to our success.
Self-acceptance is the catalyst to realizing that we are all already well. This simple yet profound perspective on wellness says, that by developing respect and compassion for ourselves, exactly as we are, our spirit and intuition will naturally emerge to manage our lives and make contentment, healing and prosperity possible.
We all have areas within ourselves that we would like to improve upon—we strive to be healthier, happier, richer, smarter, more attractive, more successful and so forth. Differences in culture, society, and people influence how we define success, however our drive to survive and thrive is consistently similar in all of us.
As human beings we all desire three things: to feel safe, valuable and connected. These three things are so necessary to humans that they are the deciding factors in humanity’s evolution or destruction. Depending upon how we choose to feel safe, valuable and connected, this underlying desire can be at the root of the most heinous war or the noblest human activity.
In our present society, many of us try to achieve “safe” using defensiveness, worry and fear. We try to feel valuable using relentless self-scrutiny. We try to feel connected with constant striving, comparing, and competing. We fight for all of it which creates a society prevalent with depression, anxiety and disease.
Today it is estimated that there are over 15 million Americans diagnosed with depression. That is heartbreaking, considering our spirits‘ natural capacity to love.
“Already well” says that there are three false belief systems that we are operating under that are preventing us from finding the healing and happiness we deserve.
They are as follows:
1. We will not be successful or content unless we have more. In fact, we need more.
2. We will never get what we want if we do not fight for it.
3. We will lose all we have worked for if we do not fight for it.
“Already well” challenges the validity of these beliefs. Such beliefs are based in fear and perpetuate our problems—we never have enough and need to fight to acquire and maintain more which creates a vicious cycle that cannot be broken without a new perspective. It is the fighting that actually prevents us from feeling safe, valuable and connected.
Some people say that humans are born to fight. This is true in part but we are also born to love and consciously evolve. We are a magnificent blend of mammal and spirit. One survives, the other thrives—survival involves contracted energy or negativity while thriving involves expanded energy or positivity. They are both necessary to live here on the planet Earth. “Already well” says we need to balance our need to survive and thrive by making peace with ourselves, as we are, before we are able to make any other improvements to our lives. It is essentially learning to lovingly tame our mammal self to allow our spirit self to lead.
How do we do this? How do we find the ‘enoughness’ in our lives as it is? How do we find self-acceptance when we have been unsuccessful or made mistakes? How can we get in touch with our Spirit, our intuition, and accept our lives in their entirety and with compassion?
“Already well” utilizes four steps:
Start by giving yourself the credit you deserve just for living, for being. Look back on your life and reflect on all of the time and energy you have spent feeding various emotions: struggling, loving, hurting, healing, suffering, discovering, working, succeeding, failing, and feeling frustration, joy and disappointment in order to be right where you are in the present moment. It is no small feat to be a surviving human being in our present society! In fact, it is amazing!
Recognize all of the effort you have put into living your life and what you have learned along the way—the good and the bad. Nobody but you knows what your experience has been! Notice that there is no mention of just learning from the “good” parts of your life—all of your life has had value.
Let’s use addiction as an example. “Already well” encourages the alcoholic client to calculate the days sober and the days in relapse, the money she has spent on meetings and other means of support, the time she has spent worrying and feeling isolated and depressed and turn that focus on praising herself by saying, “Wow! You are amazing! It is wonderful that you can invest all of that emotion, energy, and time into trying to feel better! You actually have demonstrated tremendous ability because that is NOT easy work!” The only thing missing for this woman is self-respect and acceptance. She has already demonstrated the ability to do the work. Remember, self-respect precedes success!
“Already well” says that we must look at our lives in the present moment and know we have done the best that we have learned how to do and give ourselves credit for our efforts, without exception. People might say, “Yes, but I know better.” “Already well” says that knowing is not enough, we only do what we have learned. If we had learned better, we would have done better.
We need to be honest about who we are and accept ourselves as completely as possible, including the things we think are wrong or bad. It is more than self-forgiveness. It is a compassionate acknowledgement of the value of your life. People might say, “That’s crazy! If I accept myself, nothing will change.” Though it may seem counterintuitive, self-acceptance paves the way for positive change.
Self-acceptance is not a judgment that everything is the way you want it to be; it is a decision to accept and honor yourself as you are, so that you can move forward positively!
4. Embracing spirit.
When we make peace with ourselves as we are, we naturally, progressively become aware of our spirit. Our spirit is our core, the thriving part of us; the part of us that is central to us feeling safe, valuable and connected.
There are many different names for our spirit but however we choose to address it, essentially, our spirit comes alive when we stop fighting with ourselves. We don’t have to go looking for it, because it is always with us. We often just can’t hear it with all the battle sounds ringing in our ears. The question is: how can we hear it better? Practice. Practice makes progress. Practice mindfully watching ourselves, consciously understanding and honoring ourselves as we are.
Our behavior, thoughts and feelings are all part of our Human Nature and they will actually improve as we watch ourselves respectfully. A specific “practice plan” includes focusing time on and engaging in personal activities that encourage self-acceptance and self-compassion (i.e. listening for negative self-talk and gently correcting it, holding our boundaries with other people, risking feeling uncomfortable, recognizing our limitations without shame, trying new things, etc.) Our Spirit knows how to take good care of us. Trust in that, trust in your intuition.
“Already well” says that finding success doesn’t involve changing anything in our life right this minute. It teaches us to understand that all of our actions, feelings, thoughts and behaviors are rooted in our human instinct to survive and thrive, regardless of what we have or haven’t done. When we can accept this with self-respect and compassion, our spirit naturally emerges to take care of our lives.
When we recognize our total magnificence in the present moment without changing a thing, we liberate ourselves to heal, learn, prosper and succeed in all of the ways we dream possible.
Author: Denee Jordan
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Helga Weber on Flickr