A common misconception about accepting yourself is that if you do, you will become lazy and never achieve any of your goals.
This isn’t true.
I read about accepting myself, exactly as I was and where I was at in life, a few years ago. The idea seemed simple, but it was very threatening.
It seemed simple because all self acceptance required was a decision to stop rejecting myself. It didn’t necessitate anything outside of myself such as a job promotion, approval from others, an improved marriage, or reputation, or a better house, or car, or bigger bank account, or fill in the blank.
It didn’t require working up to anything before it could be practiced, except the decision to practice it.
Because of this, it was also very threatening.
If self acceptance didn’t have anything to do with outside affirmation and influences, and only had to do with my decision to practice it, then it was entirely my own choice to be comfortable and happy with who I was.
And I wasn’t comfortable or happy with who I was.
So, I didn’t accept myself.
Sometimes it seems easier, or even appropriate, to decide to hold off accepting yourself until “x”, “y”, or “z” happens.
Examples as they relate to diet and fitness:
- Losing the last 5 pounds (or 10, or 15, or 20).
- Getting a flatter stomach (or more toned arms, or thinner thighs).
- Fitting into your ideal size jeans.
- Eating what you think is the perfect diet (and never blowing it).
All of these goals are fine to have (though not always worthwhile), but when they necessitate your own self acceptance, your comfort and happiness relies on their presence, and typically remains in the past or in the future. You might remember a few years ago as a happier time because you were thinner, or you might wait to be happy next month, when you finally (you hope), lose weight.
But what about right now?
What about being comfortable and happy with who you are today?
The belief is that achieving your goals will make you happy. That they will erase, or at least soothe, life’s difficulties, that things will make more sense, that you will finally be comfortable with who you are and where you’re at.
And that others will be comfortable and happy with who you are and where you’re at.
But this is only an illusion.
The reality is that you will continuously be growing and evolving with the seasons of life. You will experience hardship, and loss, and pain, and devastation, but you will be relieved by grace, and mercy, and kindness, friendship, love, and laughter. And hope.
Your body will change. Your face will change. Your hair will change. For the better, and for the worse.
You will get promotions, and offers, and approvals, and rejections.
You’ll make friends, and then take different paths.
You will meet a lover and grow together, and you might lose them, and you might never.
And you can choose to accept yourself the entire time.
You can choose to be comfortable and happy about who you are and where you are at. You can certainly try to improve yourself and situations, but the process can be enjoyed and expressed lovingly, like you would to someone you cared about, simply because it’s better than negativity, judgment, anxiety, and worry.
Because it’s better than letting anything outside of yourself determine your success. Because it’s better to be happy right now, than to wait until tomorrow or reserve it for the past.
Because accepting yourself breaks down the walls that you’ve built all around you, so that you can finally be liberated to go out and do what you need to do in this life without the burden of hating yourself or feeling stuck.
The truth is, accepting yourself will not turn you into a lazy and unlikeable slob. It will relieve you, allow you to get over what is keeping you from moving forward, and free you to enjoy the short time you have to breath and love and wonder.
If you’re in the habit of waiting for something or someone to liberate your self rejection, why not try choosing to do it yourself?
Why not choose to accept yourself, and see how it goes?
Why not see if you can enjoy who you are and where you’re at today?
And then try it tomorrow, and the next day, and then the next.
Keep goals, and keep learning, and keep exploring, because it keeps things interesting, and challenging, and rewarding, but keep it in mind that those things are only life’s varieties, and that you are exactly where you need to be right now to choose self acceptance.
Image from Paris Hotel Boutique.