Imagine you’re trapped inside a burning building and the heat from the engulfing fire is almost killing you. But, you’ve an opportunity to save just one person. Who will it be? If you answered your 85 year old next door neighbor, it’s official, you’re a saint. You’ll forever be praised for your martyrdom. Well, the rest of us common folks will jump the hell out of the building to save our asses that are on fire.
That’s just how much we really love ourselves. I’m not talking about the kind of narcissistic selfie love that a few of us seem to exhibit while making duck, fish and other shapes with our faces while in the bathroom or in the car. Now, that’s just bizarre.
Jokes apart, have you ever caught yourself off-guard by your own kindness towards others? That surprising way in which you’re so respectful and patient towards complete strangers on the street. And then you come home and get into extreme self judgment mode and turn on the inner monologue rant of how you’ll never meet your own expectations about yourself. How does it feel when you can’t feel your arms hug you and extend themselves to pat you on the back for living through one more day of working yourself to extinction?
Strategies to self acceptance:
Here are a few tips to give yourself assurances and stop chasing the perfect version of your life that doesn’t really exist.
Be that child: Have you noticed how kids are? For the most part, they’re not seeking meaning out of life, they’re just seeking acceptance. They want their existence to be validated because they fear being invisible to others, especially their loved ones. Fear not of disappointment or failure but the lack of positive impact you’re capable of making through your warmth and strength.
Practice self compassion: Get to a place of unconditional positive regard for yourself and your abilities. Life is a trail in error. Be happy and content with yourself on how much you’re trying to make it happen. Of course, not to the point that you’ve gotten passive about your dreams and goals and settle for mediocre.
Turn on the light: Double down on your strengths and ignore your weaknesses. Turn on the lights for yourself as you walk the unknown path ahead of you. Strangle that persistent voice in your head that says you’re lost. No one person is good at a 100 different things unless you’re one of those comic super heroes on TV.
Invite fear openly: Find your way through everything. When you’ve doubts and anxieties, work with them, so you can find out what’s holding you back. Fear is a great propeller. Allow yourself to be chased by it. OK, now don’t run off a cliff and tell me your risk was worth taking.
Lower your standards: Your ideal life is quite different than what’s possible with so many unpredictable parameters in your real life. So, you didn’t read a book and tuck the kids into bed tonight or were not able to pack lunch that morning. Cut your losses and move on. Make tomorrow a better day! Try this. Lower your expectations every time you’re going somewhere or doing something for the first time. You’re guaranteed to have a golden time.
Cut those thoughts: If you catch yourself lingering on some negative emotions about yourself – the way you look or your past, reliving those moments when you said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, STOP. Now, rephrase that context and see them as stepping stones for some well earned wisdom and find yourself still alive and well.
Set yourself free: Kindness energizes us when we are in its company. Compassion reduces stress. Self compassion gives us a sense of freedom. Educate your heart by feeding it positive emotions. The amount of kindness is far greater than the amount of violence the world faces. It just doesn’t make it into the news always.
Clean the clutter: Take stock of things and people in your life. Are there people in your life who’re threatening your self worth in a toxic way? Time to start an “Ignore list” and put their names on it. Don’t bring in too many things and thoughts into your life, bring a big shears to cut shit out.
Don’t blend in: If you blend in, you’re like a wheel of an 18 wheeler. If you come off, eh, the truck will move for a few hundred miles if it has to. So be your own vehicle. Be indispensable. Realize the competitive advantage of being different. Share your own unique gifts and enhance the quality of yours and the ones around you. We love the people we love because they are themselves – their own selves.
Give yourself permission: Grab pockets of joy, even if they’re small and fleeting. You’ve earned them. Find meaning in what you do. You’re doing epic shit. OK, OK, you suck. But, you don’t suck everywhere, in every aspect of your life, do you? Well if you said yes, you my friend, have a problem which is beyond the scope of this blog.
Know yourself truly: Become self aware to find yourself. Of course, sometimes you can become so self aware that you become your biggest critic, because you’re also aware of your weaknesses along with your strengths. The point is don’t tweak yourself to suit the expectation of the crowd you’re around. Authentic is a rare breed. Join it.
Explore nature: Find yourself in nature. The five elements, earth, fire, water, air and space, don’t seem to tell each other that in their own power, they stand alone, and are not really dependent on one another. They simply exist with unconditional trust, freedom and generosity in this shared space. They teach us to reserve our judgments, perceptions, and just be accepting and content. They remind us to we’re blessed to someday disintegrate and become one with them.
Be your own Thought Police: Here are the series of thoughts you can use to mitigate the emotional aftermath of a terrible situation. What happened? What was the expected outcome? What actually ended up happening? What is the collateral? What is to gain from this unwanted outcome? How can we prevent this from happening again? Time to move on.
Meditate, meditate, OMG meditate: Looking inward and knowing yourself is spirituality. When you’re meditating, you’ll often get lost in thoughts. Don’t judge and admonish yourself but just get back to breathing, feeling your breath flow in and out of your stomach. Meditation helps catch yourself when you’re in your default thinking mode and quiets down your thoughts. That’s why its called meditation practice not meditation perfection.
We all carry baggages of “what-ifs” and “what-else’s” with us, but give ourselves unlimited freedom to judge ourselves. Will you stop and call the stranger on the street all the names you call yourself? Then, why do we think we can do that to the person in the mirror?? Instead of rescuing yourself from the burning building when you’re surely going to die, why not spend time with yourself in self compassion while living each day? Hate is inherently filled with turmoil and brutality. And self hate is filled with far more destruction. We don’t want to be associated with those kind of emotions, do we?
For those of you living in extremely difficult situations, trying to run small businesses, being single parents and doing the best you can for your children and those who constantly keep judging themselves that they’re not good enough, read along.
Are you living in an abstract world of self loathing? I challenge you to put your fear and disgust of yourself on paper. Is there anything solid that’s wrong with you? Can you pin point the thing that’s making it impossible to give yourself a little bit of credit for making it? Are these something you can’t and are not working on each and every day to improve? Then, what’s the issue? How do you expect to fill others if your cup is not full?
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