I conducted 19 interviews for season 3 of Changes Big and Small. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reading Radical Self Acceptance by Tara Brach and discussing it on the podcast. Feel free to read along and join the conversation. Or if you’ve read the book, feel free to share your thoughts and questions with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can live a voice recording by clicking on the Start here link.
From the exploration this season, we know that there are many things that affect our self acceptance. These include our relationship with ourselves and with others, the stories we tell about the various facets of our lives and our self-image.
The season started off with How To Find Belonging And Practice Self-Acceptance with Claudia Ira Gan. Claudia and I explored how self-acceptance is related to our sense of belonging and identity. The main habit that she mentioned is journalling. For her, journalling is like meditation.
We are all human beings and this self-acceptance, I think is one of the hardest thing to learn or one of the hardest practices, because that means that sometimes you can’t meet expectations from your parents or your friends. It’s also asks from yourself to stand up for your own values, which can be very different from the environment or your peer groups.
When it comes to self-acceptance, many people struggle with this part, I think, more people than we think.
So I think that for me it has always been a thing like belonging, because I always felt a kind of outsider or outlier because I always had different opinions or visions about things and I didn’t feel accepted. I didn’t feel seen at that time, but the more you can accept yourself and see what you really need and what your core values are, actually it doesn’t matter if people accept you or not. Somehow there is this inner strength that is stronger than other opinions.
Kim Ades shares the benefits of journalling as well. She uses it in her work with clients to get a glimpse into their usual thoughts, beliefs and actions. The type of journalling that Kim uses with clients reveals who they are:
We start to see very clearly how you think, what the patterns are, where you keep getting stuck over and over again, how you’re driven, how you’re wired, when you are pressed to the wall, how you respond, and on and on and on. So what I’m doing is I am collecting a great deal of data, first from the calls and then through the daily journaling. So I’m able to piece together who you are, what matters to you, what your values are, how you react and behave when you’re stressed, all of it. I can see how you think, and I can show you how you think in ways that you’ve never seen before
Revealing yourself in this way with journalling provides the opportunity to see the facts as they are. The goal is to see what’s true and accept it without self-hatred or other such negative emotions:
Well, I think that it’s okay to accept ourselves for where we are right now. We have to totally accept we’re here. This is the situation. These are the facts. No denial. Let’s accept ourselves for who we are and let’s embrace ourselves for who we are, and it’s okay to want something new, something different, something more. It’s okay because the minute we stop wanting something more is the minute we stop living, we stop growing, we stop being, we stop breathing and existing. Wanting something more, something better, something different is inherent in being alive and being vibrant in any shape or form. So there’s no inconsistency here. There is consistency.
The problem is when we look at our current state and we hate ourselves for it, whether it’s looking in the mirror and detesting our weight, or our size, or looking in the mirror and saying, my business should be bigger by now or no, one’s going to love me; I just got divorced and I’m doomed to be alone forever. That’s where the problem starts, right there, because that thinking, that perspective is not aligned with the goal you’re after. It clashes. And as long as you’re hating yourself, it’s really hard to reach your goals.
Hating ourselves sets us back even further. When we hate something about ourselves, we do our best to hide it. We are then unable to live fully, openly. This was Beverley Magapany’s experience. Born with two fingers on one hand, she’s been on a journey to accept her body’s imperfections.
I knew that I was hiding my hand, but I didn’t know the negative impact that it was making. The minute I discovered that this thing held me back from a lot of things, like reflecting back to the opportunities that I’ve lost from having social anxieties, from shying to meet people. I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to be free.
Beverley journalled about the parts of herself she wanted to hide and she also spent time speaking to herself in the mirror.
That’s how I started regular visits to the mirror. Then as time went by, I started to see a very beautiful hand that’s uniquely created. I started telling myself that you were created to stand out. You were not created to be like anyone else. You are you. You are not anyone else.
I started also with affirmations, saying to myself that you are strong, you are beautiful, you are amazing, you are confident, you are bold. It was a very emotional journey. It was uneasy at times. I had lots of doubts. I had a lot of tears to cry, and then I had lot of forgiveness to myself too.
Beverley found this mirror visits very helpful. She credits affirmations and mantras to helping her build self acceptance, so that she could take her hand out of her pocket and start to show it to the world.
Beverley’s mantra is very similar to the mantra that Monica Sherese took us through. Her focus is on helping people build their self-image by aligning their inner and outer expression, and to help them develop self-love.
And so that’s where the work is. It’s not on fixing the body or changing the body and not to say that we can’t have goals as far as, you know, for health, fitness, or just because I want to lose weight. I think it’s loving ourselves fully and completely all the way through the journey from beginning to end, and loving that body now for what it does for us, for our heart beating, for our legs carrying us, for our eyes to see, for our hands to do work. Regardless of whatever state the body is in, it shows up for us every day and does its very best.
So what does it look like to accept all of yourself? Meditate on these words and use them as a path to self acceptance, an invitation to self love:
The brain will seek out what you tell it to. So I always advocate questions, like, look at the, you know, where did that come from? And answer yourself. Oh, like, look at that hand there. That is just, you know, such a wonderful hand. Have conversations with yourself and find the evidence of your beauty.
Find the evidence of your beauty, find the evidence of your personal miracle. Find the evidence of every wonderful thing that you can say about yourself and acceptance, as you mentioned earlier Damianne, is about accepting all of it.
We don’t have to just accept the positive characteristics and the positive traits about ourselves. There are times that I know myself to be a little moody and I don’t have to hate that; I don’t have to dislike that. I can continually be seeking to always be a better person and still accept that sometimes I’m a little moody and that’s okay.
I might get a little attitude about some things, but that’s okay. It’s all of like averaging of who I am. It’s all woven together to, again, it’s not a good or bad thing. It’s just, we are, I am me. I am uniquely who I am. The full spectrum of everything is who I am, and it’s wonderful.
Monica also has an emphasis on community, how we can provide peer coaching for each other and hold up mirrors for each other so that we can we build self acceptance as in individual process while being held in community.
Sometimes it’s not about coaching; sometimes it’s just about listening. So I just want to be able to create those kinds of experiences for women, where when you come in, you know that it’s different; you know that there is sisterhood here. There are opportunities to truly connect with one another. There are opportunities to have wisdom circles, which is one thing I want to create as well, where I teach women, what are the basics of peer coaching and provide environments where we’re able to do that for one another, and I will facilitate it. But so many times the answers are within the community. I’m just the guide on the side; I’m not the expert. I am there to help you, help guide you toward the right questions, not necessarily the right answers, because we all have the answers that we need within us. Sometimes we just need a guide or a coach to help prod us in the direction of our own knowing. And so that’s what I want community to be about. And that’s what I believe real community is and authentic community is with women, and the power that can come of that.
If you want to know more about the individual episodes, visit the links embedded into the post. You can also find videos of my conversations with Monica on YouTube.