Day 28: Radical Forgiveness: Radical Self-Acceptance


Up until pretty recently, the idea of loving or even accepting myself “as is” has been something I just couldn’t “grok.”

I grew up on the idea of “self-improvement.” That I was flawed. My flaws, by definition were fundamentally unacceptable, and my life’s work was changing all of those unacceptable elements into things I would like. So personal happiness and fulfillment is all about changing what I don’t like into what I do like so that I become a person I can like.

This all seems to make sense.

Well, it makes sense on one level. In the physical world in which we all spend most of our time and what we’re most aware of. On this level, it’s more or less a “make-over.”

But if you are open to other levels of reality…let’s say there’s also a spiritual reality. The spiritual reality is one that can’t be perceived by our five senses but can be perceived in other ways. Our emotions and thoughts can play in this space. Not everyone believes this and people who do believe in a spiritual reality often don’t agree of the nature of this reality. Some people think the world of spirits is a place of rewards and punishments where we’re being judged while we’re alive and where our souls go when we die.

For a long time, I’ve believed that the world of the spirit is one  of a loving higher power and in this world we can experience what I believe is the truth about our human experience: that there is no true separation between ourselves nor is there separation with this higher power. I like to believe that our journey in life is to learn to see this reality more and more and by doing so, we experience more joy and begin to see the contributions we are really making.

This isn’t to say that what we (I) do in the physical world isn’t important. It is. But without considering the spiritual, I have an incomplete understanding. And, quite frankly, it’s hard to be happy just based on material success. At some point, more accomplishments, money, and stuff, stops being very satisfying. I mean, how much do any of us really need to prove? And how much do we really need to have?

So from this perspective, I’ve started to realize that while it’s fine to want to change my behaviors and beliefs, trying to change my essential nature can only make me miserable.

For a while I was focusing on shifting my beliefs because I think this is an area that really trips me up. But lately, I’ve been more intrigued by the idea of starting with self-acceptance.

Why? Well, for one thing, a lot of the things that make me unhappy are my negative s judgments about other people. I’ve been aware for a long time that the articles I’ve been writing have an underlying resentful tone. No matter how hard I try to edit out the resentment and frustration, it seeps out energetically. I think I have good things to say. There are a lot of things I see in the world and in my area of work, marketing and business communication, that are really cool and I want to share my thoughts about these things.

But I’ve gotten cautious because there are parts of myself that need to be seen and until I see these parts of myself and acknowledge them, they’re going to sneak out and be subversive.

So this takes me to the idea of Radical Self-Acceptance. Radical Self-Acceptance is a part of Radical Self-Forgiveness. There are two issues most of us struggle with: forgiving ourselves for things we’ve done that we feel guilty about and accepting parts of ourselves that we believe are unacceptable.

The two elements are related so it’s not always one thing or the other. But I find myself especially interested in Radical Self-Acceptance because for most of my life I’ve been more or less waging a war against various parts of myself and this war is what “getting in your own way,” is all about!

It felt really good to write that last sentence by the way. Because I’ve known forever that I’m my own worst enemy but what the hell does that actually mean? And how the hell do you take action to “fix” the problem? I’ve tried a lot of stuff and nothing has worked very well.

Because Radical Forgiveness has worked so well, I’m up for doing some Radical Self-Acceptance to see if I can have more peace with who I am as a human being.

One insight I’ve already had is how a lot of my negative beliefs are attached to some pretty harsh s judgments about myself.

I created the picture of the little girl hiding behind her mother’s skirts because that’s always been me. If I wasn’t hiding behind my mother’s skirt (which became impractical after a certain age) I was looking for someone else in charge to hide behind.

One particularly harsh  judgment I have about myself is that I can’t be successful because I’m too introverted and reclusive. Keep in mind this isn’t about me saying, hiding all the time is a constructive thing to do. What I’m saying is it’s important to separate the behavior from the being.

If I say, “I suck because I’m shy and I don’t deserve to be successful,” I’m not accepting myself. I’m hating myself. I’m setting myself up for struggling and inner conflict. And no matter what anyone else tells me, I’m not going to believe it because deep down inside I’m pretty convinced that I suck.

So the next step is to look at this with kindness and compassion and remove judgment. Something I’m in process with at the moment.

Be interesting to see if there are any positive shifts in the next few days.

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