On Wednesday, January 18th at 4:30PM ET, I’m going to be on a Facebook Live Heart Wisdom Panel on the Mango Publishing Facebook page (see link if you are interested in attending or watching after by going to “Videos” on that page). The topic is self-acceptance. It’s a topic I feel strongly about and I even have pages in my book dedicated to it (p.135-136 or audiobook under “Chapter 5 Building Self-Worth” for those who have a copy of Letters from a Better Me). It’s been awhile since I’ve spent time dedicated to talking about this, so what I can do now is look at why self-acceptance is important and what it looks like to be and not be self-accepting. Here’s what came to me (this is a brainstorm so it may bounce):
We bring our relationships with ourselves into our relationships with others. How we treat ourselves will be reflected back to us. Therefore, the more we accept ourselves, the healthier our relationships with others.
When I don’t accept myself, I accept unacceptable behavior. Why? Because I’m treating myself in a way that the unacceptable behavior is acceptable. It feels normal and familiar. It’s matching how I’m treating myself.
The thing that’s sad is we don’t often realize how much we SELF-ABUSE. We can do this in our thoughts, beliefs, actions, and reactions. If we know that we are destroying ourselves by putting something in our bodies, we are abusing our bodies. If we are shaming ourselves into submission, we are abusing minds and organs too. Our bodies pay a steep price for us not accepting ourselves. Why wouldn’t we accept other’s abuse and shaming tactics on us if we are doing it to ourselves?
If you haven’t read my work before, know that I see self-blaming as a form of self-abuse, which also comes from not accepting ourselves. There is a big difference between being responsible and accountable for what’s mine, and self-blaming. Self-blaming is like beating myself with an emotional 2×4. Being responsible and accountable is me seeing that I may not have handled a situation the best, and here is what I think would help it go better next time. I also am able to apologize, because I don’t see myself as a horrible human-being because I’m not perfect. I can hope that someone will accept my apology, but if they don’t, I accept the rejection as part of my journey of accepting myself.
When I don’t accept how I am and where I am, I often will find a way to punish myself. I can even use healthy things like working out to accomplish this. It’s the WHY I do it that makes it a tool for betterment or a weapon of mass destruction.
Side note: This is how good people can end up being attracted to cults and never know they are in a cult. Red Flags are people using shame tactics to get you to need their services. They're the ONLY ones who can help you. You are not worthy unless you do what they say. They attract people through their alignment with fear, lack, and separation.
When I don’t accept myself, I use people and relationships as weapons against myself. The stories I tell myself when I’m not accepting myself in my relationships are AWEFUL. I might act out being pissed off at the people I love when really who I’m angry with is myself.
When I accept myself, what someone else thinks won’t play like a song on repeat in my mind over and over. I might say something like, “Well, that’s your opinion.” “I don’t suggest you live the way I do if you don’t like it.” “Thank you for sharing.” “I’m okay being emotional.”The key is though, it won’t take up space in my mind. I won’t feel a pull to try to make them accept me.
The problem is that when we don’t accept ourselves, we expect others to accept us, and get mad when they don’t. This can be BRUTAL in our relationships whether they be romantic, familial, working, or casual.
If I’m playing martyr or doormat, I’m not accepting myself. I’m wanting my kids to see value in me that I don’t see in myself. I’m wanting my partner to see value in me that I don’t see in myself. In the past, I’ve wanted my boss and co-workers to see value in me that I don’t see in myself. So…I do things to try to prove my value or show my worth, and if they don’t appreciate me the way I want them too, OH they will pay. This is a huge RED FLAG that I’m NOT accepting myself.
A sign that I’m accepting and loving myself is healthy boundaries in these relationships. When I accept myself, I can look at my WHY from a more grounded place. If I do something for someone, it might be to show them love, to do the best job I can, or because I simply want to contribute. The story of how someone else perceives what I do isn’t there. When it’s feel right to say, “NO,” I say it. I can’t feel like a martyr or a doormat if I have don’t have a story or an expectation of others.
Another BEAUTIFUL gift that comes from accepting myself darkness and all is that it makes it much easier to accept other people for who and where they are. This doesn’t mean that if they are not healthy for my life that I won’t leave, but what it does mean is that I won’t waste my energy trying to change them. I simply get to decide if who they are fits into my life or not. No hate required. The more I love and accept myself, the easier this part gets.
One of the things that helps me accept myself even when someone is saying something horrible to me is by saying to myself, “They are projecting how they feel about themselves.” This reminds me NOT to take what other people say personally. I also know if I DO take it personally, it’s an opportunity to look inward to see if they are attacking a part of me that I’m attacking too.
This actually happened to me recently. I have a deeply embedded trigger about money. Accepting where I am with money is something I work with regularly. I have to look at why I’m doing things, because if I’m doing them for the wrong reasons, I can end up being in a worse situation. I might spend more money than is healthy for me to spend as a way to feel worthy or valuable.
Now, if I’m struggling with this one and someone says, “She’s taking advantage,” I feel like what I DO give doesn’t have value. I then take someone thinking that personally. If I KNOW what I’m giving has value and someone offers me something for it, I can simply say thank-you and be grateful for their gift. If someone says, “She’s taking advantage” it will roll off my back. It honestly all depends on where I am in the moment.
I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone thinking that self-acceptance is an, “OH, I GET IT” and we never have a problem with it again. Stuff is going to come up. It’s what we do with what comes up that matters. I’m someone who likes going inward, so spotting the areas I’m not being self-accepting is an adventure for me. I get new tools every time I go in. I take Carl Gustav Jung’s quote very seriously, “What you resist, persists…” If I don’t look at where I’m not accepting myself, it will get worse and do more damage. Hence, going in is ALWAYS the better option for me.
What can I do now to look at my self-acceptance? Look at my actions, reactions, and responses to others as an observer—NOT A CRITIC! Simply observe where I am accepting and not accepting myself right now. Then, if I see an area where I’m not accepting myself, answer these questions:
- What would it look like if I did accept myself?
- How would I treat myself?
- How would I treat the other people involved?
- How would I treat my critics?
Just writing this piece helped me accept myself more. If you wonder, why I do these different series…that’s why. Getting what’s inside out in front of me helps me get a clearer view on how I can help myself.
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff, author of Letters from a Better Me and host of the From A Loving Place with Author Rachael Wolff podcast
Click image to go to link to watch live or after the event. If after, go to “Videos” on the Facebook link provided.