The Road to Self-Acceptance

I used to be a self-improvement junkie. From self-help books and journaling, to daily meditation and yoga, I was forever striving to become the best I could be, but somehow always falling short.  Now that I’m older and wiser, I am so over it.

It takes tremendous energy to always be striving toward a better version of yourself. Almost as much energy as learning to love and accept yourself as you are, flaws and all. Of the two, I am convinced the latter is the greater use of our energy, and the more difficult, which may be why so many of us prefer the former.

Evolving  toward our highest potential is a beautiful thing. Sadly, too many of us start our journeys of growth and self-discovery from a place of lack instead of love, convinced we’re not good enough as we are and that we therefore need to strive and change to be better.

My entire life has been a struggle to feel good enough, to appreciate myself for who I am – the good, the bad, the quirks, and even my God-given strengths and talents. Did it start in the womb, with my 17 year old mother “disgracing” the family by having pre-marital sex and getting knocked up with me? Can shame be passed on at the cellular level? Does the stain of being the black sheep seep into one’s offspring?

Or could it have started with my father? He never could seem to accept me for who I am. He still corrects my speech (not how I say things, but what I say) and seems overly concerned with how I make him appear. There are digs about me acting like my mother, as if being like her in any way means that something is wrong with me.

What about those small moments that add up over a lifetime, such as when I was eight years old and sitting on my friend Jenny’s front steps with her and a group of girls. Someone mentioned the new landscaping around the front walkway of Jenny’s house and I, in innocence, said, “My parents said they copied our landscaping”, which they kind of had given it was identical and we lived directly across the street. Not that I cared, but my parents had taken issue with it.

Unbeknownst to me, Jenny’s mother was listening inside the house through the screen door. All of a sudden, a voice hissed, “You little devil. How dare you say that. Get off my property.” Stunned and afraid and ashamed, I left without saying a word and spent the rest of the day sitting in our garage watching the girls play. The residue of that day has stayed with me all these years.

I don’t know how my lack of self-acceptance started, but the days of feeling like I have to act a certain way, say things a certain way, dress and wear my hair a certain way – I could go on and on – to fit in and be accepted by others are slowly coming to an end. I am getting too old for such bullshit. I want to experience myself fully for the first time in my life, to know what it feels like to appreciate and accept myself as I am, right in this moment. I want to observe my thoughts, words, and actions without judgment, even the “bad” ones, and to naturally be myself first in every situation, instead of adhering to my tendency to adapt myself to others’ opinions of who and what I should be.

A funny thing that has been happening lately that has prompted this shift. All of the things I’ve learned and thought I understood in my self-improvement heyday are rushing at me, seeping into me as primal, mini-revelations during which I think, Oh my, God. This is what it meant. Now I get it. Now I really, truly get it, in my soul. I couldn’t explain the revelations if I wanted to because they go beyond words to a deep knowing.

What a gift! The world is opening up to me and I’m ready to dive into it.

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21 thoughts on “The Road to Self-Acceptance

  1. I loved your post! It is so powerful, ginuene and shows your true voice. Jenny’s mom should have known better, she was the adult and you were just an innocent girl at the time. It is strange how others opinions stuck in to your head and don’t go away, even if those opinions are totally hurtful and wrong. I am glad that the world is opening up to you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Svet! Thank you. Now that I’m an adult and a mom, I agree Jenny’s mom should have known better. I wasn’t trying to be mean, just parroting what my parents said (which they probably shouldn’t have said in front of me). Thanks for reading! Hope all is well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the honesty of your posts! And I think many of us have problems with self-acceptance, probably for a variety of reasons. Parents who let their kids know they aren’t living up to expectations, being ostracized by other children, failing to reach our own dreams…the list is endless. Which would probably explain all the self-help books out there!
    But I think you have hit the nail on the head, the trick isn’t to try to be our best self if that means changing who we fundamentally are. The trick is to accept who we fundamentally are and listen to our inner voice that encourages us, not the one that others implanted which discourages us, I think. And when we do that, we ARE being our best self, because we are being our true self.
    Congratulations on your path toward self-discovery! It is hard, but as you say, the results are so worth it. I’m glad you had the moment of revelation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ann, I think part of this goes back to your recent post about gaining so much as we get older even as we have to let go of some things (like firm thighs lol). Thanks for taking time to read and comment. I always appreciate your insight. And happy birthday tomorrow 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow…this is exactly where I have been lately (although I am figuring out much later in life than you) and what I’ve been trying to write about in my poetry. I’ve had some aha moments myself about the voices in my head that really have most likely come from the outside and how to stop listening to them (even though I have to still listen to them in real life). I’ve started to compile coping mechanisms as well as ways to try to actually be somewhat happy and accepting of the real me, not the one I’ve been told I am. Of course, it helps that some very dear friends, and surprisingly unexpected folks are telling me that I’m really a pretty OK person after all. For me, it’s a matter of re-writing the story that has played inside my brain for so long and that even though I had moments of clarity here and there, I still let it guide much of my difficult life. Admittedly, it feels weird trying to ignore the noise, because in a way, it’s been me, but an imposter at the same time. So at times it feels so cool, but others I’m petrified I can’t really do it…. Life can be so nutty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing all of this. I feel that I can understand what you mean. It’s all so chaotic and confusing sometimes – and can feel nutty. Not to mention aggravating. I mean, how lucky are those people who can’t even understand where we’re coming from because they have never doubted themselves or not accepted themselves? For me, I’m doing it one thought at a time. Whenever I start to judge myself, I catch myself and redirect my thoughts, usually to simply say, you know what, Kim, stop it, just accept that you had that thought (said that thing, did that thing, etc.) and love yourself anyway. You are a child of God, made perfect in your own way! I am especially doing this when I don’t feel good enough, which is usually when I’m comparing myself to others. I’ll catch myself and remind myself that it’s wonderful so and so is this way or that, but I am me and I have my own gifts to share with the world. Sending love your way!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that it’s sad, Sheryl. I’ve been working on a post about wishing I could say whatever I want, but the bottom line is that if it’s unnecessarily unkind or cruel, I just can’t.

      Like

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