I’ve struggled with self-acceptance for most of my life.
Every day we see our reflections staring back at us from the mirrors around us—from the bathroom mirror, in captured photos, in the eyes of the people in our life, friends and work colleagues.
We might wonder what they see—and do we see the same thing when we see ourselves?
The world suffers from an epidemic of self-hatred. The wars within us are the true cause of the conflicts we see on our TV screens. We meditate, practice yoga, have the largest array of spiritual tools and sacred knowledge available to us than we’ve had in the last 500 years—but we still cannot love ourselves.
I’ve never had a problem seeing the beauty in others, but—as it was, anyway—when it came to seeing myself as beautiful, that plane never even got off the runway.
I knew where the terrible self-acceptance deficiency came from. I was adopted at birth, and because of that, I always thought there was something wrong with me. In an attempt to overcome these wrongful thoughts, I tried many different tools, including various healing modalities and spiritual interventions.
But everything I tried drew a blank; no matter what I did, I still could not love me.
There was one realization that started the journey to self-acceptance and this was the graceful understanding that a lack of self-acceptance is the cause of all suffering.
Non-acceptance, generally, is the root of many forms of suffering.
By being in a constant state of non-acceptance—of my body, or looks, or situations in my life—I was mired in a constant battle. I realized that to not love and accept myself was to demean the creation of the Divine, or the Great Spirit.
I didn’t feel comfortable with who I was, with my body and in my own skin. So as part of my healing journey, I became a yoga teacher. And as I teach my students self-acceptance, how to ground into the body and their natural state of peace, supporting them to nurture themselves, I in turn teach and remind myself.
Self-acceptance is something most people struggle with to some degree, whether it is not accepting their body, their status in life, their skills, looks, or job. We all have our “thing.”
But in reality self-acceptance is about unconditionally accepting life and understanding that everything in creation is Divine. The more I can be with my true self, dropping into my natural state of being, the more I accept myself and discover joy and freedom as well as appreciate myself and my gifts.
Whatever you are fighting with separates you and chains you to suffering. But whatever you accept frees you.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha
Ways to start on the journey to self-acceptance:
- Break up with the urge to attach meaning to everything. It means nothing whether we get it right or wrong, it just is.
- Small successes are best. Set yourself up for success by doing things in small chunks, little and often. Celebrate the little things by praising daily for the actions and goals—and also for just being, for kindness shown to others and yourself.
- See yourself through the eyes of a loving friend, who sees the love you showed the lonely dog ignored by everyone else, or the listening ear and words of encouragement to someone that was feeling down.
- Be still. Listen. Hear the answers that arise from the stillness when the mud of the mind settles.
- Acceptance leads to healing in and of itself, as acceptance is the healing. As we sink into acceptance, we soften and let go of the masks, the lies and the pretense. Just like an exhale, we come to the truth of being, and everything relaxes.
- Expectations, demands, pressures and stress all die in the flame of acceptance. Acceptance opens doors to parts of us that we never even knew existed. It buys the tickets to adventure, travel, to the unknown and to greater purpose.
The next time you pass a mirror or cringe at tagged selfie, give that person a break. Tell them they are great.
When we make friends with life, we start living.
“You are not accidental. Existence needs you. Without you something will be missing in existence and nobody can replace it.” ~ Osho
Author: Azriel Re’Shel
Editor: Renée Picard ; Apprentice Editor: Justine O’Connell