Don’t Ask, Who Am I? Ask, Can I Accept Who I Am?

“By the grace of God, I am what I am.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10

homeless-man-and-dog

Do you think the golden retriever thinks any less of the man because he’s homeless? Image via http://webneel.com/30-most-inspiring-photographs-worth-million-words-photography-series

Note to my readers: The other day my aunt posted an article on Facebook, 27 Beautiful Bible Verses For Every Woman In Need Of Love, Reassurance And Strength. I was so inspired by the verses that I’ve decided to devote my next 10 weekly musings to a topic related to select verses. The beauty of most of them is you don’t have to be religious, or even believe in a higher power (or be a woman), for their universal message to speak to you

What if you accepted yourself exactly as you are, and stopped trying to change?

We’ve all met people who seem to know exactly who they are, and who accept themselves despite their flaws. They stand out from the rest because they’re comfortable in their own skin. Their very presence seems to radiate from a place deep within, rather than from ego or identity. I’ve always admired such people. They are few and far between.

Maybe you’re one of those people. Or maybe you’ve experienced moments of such clarity, where you caught a glimpse of your true essence. For many of us, though, it’s a never ending journey of self-discovery, filled with twists and turns , false starts and promises.

We’re trying to find our place in this world. We’re searching for that perfect partner, perfect job, perfect house, perfect life that will finally reflect who we think we are, or who we wish to be. We read self-help books, attend self-improvement workshops, seminars, and retreats. We meet with therapists to try to get to the root of our unhappiness. We get plastic surgery, new jobs, new wardrobes, new partners, new kitchens. We drink and use drugs. We try to change our spouses, children, friends, and ourselves into what we think will be better versions than currently exist.

We get so wrapped up in our identities that we become them, convinced they make us who we are. But what if our identities don’t feel comfortable, like a dress or suit that doesn’t fit quite right, but we wear anyway? What if our identities were given to us by others, or assumed because we were merely doing what was expected of us? What if they were literally forced upon us? Imagine if our myriad identities were stripped away, our families and friends wiped out, our jobs lost, our ability to move our body taken away – who or what would we be then?

Who we are goes deeper than our identities. I can call myself wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, employee, yoga practitioner, writer, but this doesn’t tell me who I am fundamentally. As long as who I am is defined by my relationships to people and things, I may never truly know myself at the soul level. Only here do we transcend any perceived flaws, imperfections, and false notions of who we are. The trouble is, it’s so hard to get to that place, and once there, can we accept who and what we find?

Can we accept that we were created perfect, despite our imperfections? That everything good, bad, beautiful, and ugly about us is exactly what was intended? Imagine if we were to fully embrace who we are naturally, if we stopped trying to be someone and something we’re not. We would no longer be fighting our true nature. We would no longer be rejecting ourselves, our gifts, and each other.

Acceptance is key. Think about the people in your life that you find difficult to accept as they are. Maybe it’s a child whose quirks grate on your nerves. Maybe it’s a relative whose personality rubs you the wrong way. Maybe it’s a spouse or partner whose habits annoy you. Maybe it’s the coworker who is a little bit too needy. If you cannot accept these people for who they are, how will you ever be able to accept yourself?

This week, I’m going to do my best to practice total acceptance, of myself and others. When that mean voice in my head tells me I screwed up, that I’m a lousy wife and mother, that my house is a disaster, that I should have gone to the gym more, I’m going to gently tell her to be quiet, and remind her that I’m perfect as I am. Ditto if she starts telling me similar stories about others. I’m going to make an effort to get to know myself better, to appreciate who I am, without trying to change a thing. I hope you’ll join me.

 

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29 thoughts on “Don’t Ask, Who Am I? Ask, Can I Accept Who I Am?

  1. I’m writing this through tears because your post resonated so deeply and spoke straight to my heart. Thank you for this honest and heartwarming post of this journey called life we’re all on. I absolutely will join you Kim! Here’s to the week ahead, whatever it brings us. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, my goodness, didn’t mean to make you cry, but if it’s what you needed to hear at this moment in time, then I guess all is good. I’m glad you’ll be joining me. I’ve already started today by making a conscious effort to think positive thoughts about my hubby and be loving toward him, even though he’s been really crabby lately (probably due to the concussion). Thanks for reading and commenting, Miriam!

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  2. You’ve nailed something deeply subtle and philosophically profound right here, Kim: “We get so wrapped up in our identities that we become them, convinced they make us who we are.” Jung made an observation about how “we slip imperceptibly into a conceptual world”, and he was pointing to the self-construct, the creation of personal identity, and how we inhabit the same in the manner you suggest in your article.

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    • Thank you for sharing the Jung quote, Hariod. I had to read it a couple of times before I could really understand it. It does seem to be saying the same thing, albeit with more abstract language (abstract has never been my forte). I’ve always been interested in learning more about Jung, especially the Archetypes, just never got around to it. Are you very familiar with his work?

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      • I’m not a big Jung reader, Kim, and it’s been many years since I read anything of his, actually. I do recall that expression of his, which I think is close to verbatim, as the imagery of ‘slipping imperceptibly’ seemed so evocative to me. It’s what we do when as children we begin to assimilate the capacity to use concepts and symbols, and to juggle with them in a quasi-interior world – the inner thinking ‘me’. This is what constructs, sustains and develops our idea of ourselves, of course. We have the real-time, largely non self-reflective ‘me’ which receives and responds to sensory inputs in an animalistic, intuitive manner, and we have a sort of ‘off-line’ aspect of ‘me’, and which has its interior thoughts, retains imagery and concepts both about itself, and about the world. It’s this latter conceptual world that Jung is pointing to. Most of us don’t even realise we’re inhabiting a conceptual world, and as we live in ever more distractible environments due to technology and urban living, we become forever distanced from life outside of this self-created world/condition. I think that’s the great value of periods of quietude, whether they be in nature, or in silent prayer, or in meditation – these are the times when we can return to our sense of being prior to our conceptually conceived world and self. Then, once matured in these quieting practices, when we (inevitably) slip back into our self-created world, we have increasing occurrences of being able to contextualise it, to see what our minds are doing, and to become less identified with its content. Apologies for blathering on somewhat here!

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    • My goodness, no need to apologize. This is interesting stuff. I appreciate you taking time to explain it. Thanks, Hariod! Now I have to get ready to go vote😢I wonder what advice Jung would give me on that lol

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  3. Terrific post, Kim! For some reason I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, too, only not nearly as clearly as you are. I think the journey towards self-acceptance can only move forward through self-discovery, and self-discovery often means rejecting the identities that we have assumed over the years. And you’re right, it’s a long and tough road, but also so very worthwhile. I work on this a lot, and I do think I’ve made some progress. But it is definitely a case of “two steps forward, one step backward.”
    Thanks for this post and the invitation to begin by working on how we accept other people exactly as they are. Because it has to be a two-way street. And think of how much conflict can be avoided if we quit expecting other people to behave and think exactly the way we think they should….

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    • I wonder sometimes, Ann, if people who live simply and don’t agonize over such things are really more in tune with who they are. For example, I think of my 81 year old father-in-law. He’s totally content with his life as is – puttering around the farm, picking up my son from school every day (and he arrives an hour before school lets out to make sure he gets the best parking spot), and when he worked as a heavy equipment operator, getting up at 4:30 AM for work, without complaint. He never wanted anything more than that, not because he isn’t ambitious, but because he’s content and comfortable as is. So much striving can make us miserable, I think.

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      • I think you are right. In one of my college English classes, we had to read “Jude the Obscure.” And the main message of that, if I remember correctly, was that Jude would have been much more happy if he was simply content with his lot in life, rather than aspire to attending Oxford (or whatever college it was, my memory is horrible.) Aspirations are good, but so is simply being happy with doing your best, and learning to be content with what that gets you.

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  4. Sometimes it takes years to learn this, and some days we’re better at this than others. Be gentle with yourself Kim. It’s OK that not every day we feel acceptance with ourselves or every minute, as long as we know how to get back there when we need it and generally know that we love ourselves warts and all. One of the best ways to remind us, is to have a best friend to set us back on track when we forget! xoxo

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    • Yes, thank goodness for best friends! I also believe that sometimes we need to unlearn. Your comment reminds me of a recent trip I took to the local library. My books were a few days overdue and when I was paying the fine, I said to the librarian that I hadn’t even finished reading two of the books, that I didn’t like them and I really need to stop reading nonfiction (they were self-help sort of books). She said that she no longer reads nonfiction, only fiction, because she’s too old to learn anything new anyway. I thought it was an interesting comment to make because I feel we always have something to learn, but I also understood her point. Anyway, here I am rambling. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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