To love yourself is to accept yourself wholly, deeply and without judgement. When we learn to love and accept ourselves, we become more congruent, aligning our inner and outer worlds. And of course, when we are congruent, we become more authentic, which allows us to connect with ourselves and others more deeply, leading to healthier relationships, a better sense of self-worth, and an overall satisfaction of life.
Self-acceptance starts with cultivating an awareness of everything that makes us who we are. This means, we must be willing to examine ourselves deeply, processing through the moments and experiences of our lives. These are painful moments, happy and contented moments, the mundane, the traumatic, the forgotten and overlooked moments. In essence, we are taking inventory of our strengths, our quirks, our struggles, our shame, and trenching into the darkest parts of us; parts we may have worked hard to deny exist at all. Once we have laid bare all of the pieces of who we are, we can start to look at them with a new lens, one which gives us the understanding and compassion we so deserve.
As with anything worthwhile, self-acceptance takes time and work. We must make a commitment to accepting ourselves just the way we are. We work on reminding ourselves that everything has happened the way it was supposed to and who we are now is a culmination of a thousand million moments leading up to this very second. We let go of the willing or wishing things to be different and accept it – all of it – for the way it is, for the way we are. We surrender trying to control all of the things we cannot change, and in return we find the freedom to be who we are and grow uninhibited by the judgements of others, or worse, by the judgements of ourselves.
While not an easy journey to take, it is well worth the peace it brings. When you have come to the point of complete self-acceptance, you will notice you are more kind with yourself, giving yourself the same compassion and grace you would give to a friend, family member or partner. You will find more ease in everyday interactions and are more able to let go of resentments, past hurt, and the worries of being or doing enough. If practiced consistently, it gives us a new way to think and feel about our continued struggles in a way that is forgiving, understanding, and loving. The most powerful thing about all of this is once we accept ourselves, we no longer depend on the acceptance of others.
If you would like more guidance and help with your journey of self-acceptance, please reach out to a mental health counselor.
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