Self-acceptance is much more than self-confidence or self-esteem. It stretches further than body positivity, so far that it touches on the divine. Because only when we truly accept ourselves, the good, the bad and the ugly, are we freeing ourselves to become what we were born to be. Only then can we grow into the divine creatures we were envisioned to become.
Sound like hogwash to you? I guess anything can sound like nonsense if you use that specific jargon and emotive words. What isn’t hogwash is the fact that when we accept ourselves it means we truly know ourselves, and only through deep self-knowledge can we become masters of our own lives and destiny. And what can possibly give you more self-confidence than knowing that you are in charge?
Wikipedia defines self-acceptance as follows:
Self-acceptance can be defined as the awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, the realistic (yet subjective) appraisal of one’s talents, capabilities, and general worth, and, feelings of satisfaction with one’s self despite deficiencies and regardless of past behaviours and choices.
So self-acceptance is in essence exactly that – accepting yourself complete with issues, shortcomings, quirks and skeletons. Once you accept yourself you can focus on loving yourself, wobbly thighs and sagging boobs included. Without self-love, you will never see the power of self-care, which means you will run on empty your whole life and never understand why it felt so unfulfilling.
But why is self-acceptance so important? Surely you can love yourself without knowing exactly who you are? And taking care of yourself shouldn’t have the prerequisite of being self-aware? True. But we tend to look better after that which we understand, like and even love. We nurture what we know, and we all need a bit of nurturing!
My own self-acceptance journey has been bumpy, to say the least. Although I have always been in-tune with my own feelings, wants and needs, there were a few things I told myself (with the hope that I will start to believe it sooner or later) that just wasn’t true. My marriage was a great example of this – trying to be someone I could not keep on trying to be. And because I was trying to be someone or something that I was not, I was easily thrown off my game. Easily angered, confused or even misdirected. The old saying that if you do not know what you stand for, you will fall for anything never rang truer.
Now, in my journey to rediscovering myself, and keeping in mind that that new definition includes the title “single mom”, I have seen the fallacy of my previous beliefs, and have started shaping and sanding ME to actually become ME. And throughout, I am working on accepting not only my missteps in the past but to forgive myself for them. Once forgiven, they will no longer hold me back and can I focus on being the best mom – the area of my life that is taking the most energy at the moment.
A few of the “lies” that I tried to convince myself were:
• I am not a people person. Nonsense, people fascinate me. What is true is that I like being in control, meaning I want to socialise when it suits me and leave when it suits me.
• People drain me. Not true, I get my energy from people.
• I am a stable individual. As far from the truth as possible. I am sensitive, fragile and impressionable. I now embrace that and use it to my strength.
• I am not emotional. Oh, how I wish this was true! Sadly no. I cry easily. I get influenced easily and fast – from a sad advertisement to a beggar on the street, I feel for people deeply and it influences my mood immediately.
• I don’t mind conflict. Wrong! I hate conflict, will do almost anything to avoid it. Unfortunately, my mouth is not on the same page and works a bit faster than my brain. So I see a lot of conflicts…
• I am not creative. I am, and only later did I realise that I am very creative. I can see patterns and colours and structures where others see chaos. I can make something from nothing, and I can shape people’s ideas to something that I want.
A few things I discovered about myself:
• I think in strategies. Nothing is ever an isolated case, everything links up and if you play your cards right, you will get out on top.
• I am a very hard worker. Sometimes I have to be because I also tend to create extra work for myself.
• I am not a perfectionist. So many people hide behind that word, using it as an excuse to not start and never finish. I do believe that done is better than perfect and that you can always go back and improve at a later stage.
• My love and life are much bigger than just me. I live for my family and will do anything for my kids.
• If I had to choose between my career and my family, my family will win 8 out of 10 times. The other 2 times are when I am depressed, anxious, over-stressed and out of it.
• I get depressed. As in “cannot think of one good thing, there is no reason to live, and I can just as well die and nobody will even miss me”. I know this, and I try to manage it. I am also anxious by nature, another reason perfectionism should not even be in my vocabulary. I cannot afford to give myself any more reasons to be unhappy with progress.
• I am highly competitive and never quit. Another characteristic that feeds my anxiety. But hey, if you know about it you can change it, or at least manage it.
• I am extremely short tempered, and I lash out quickly. But I never stay angry, and luckily I wear my heart on my sleeve so issues are quickly aired and dealt with.
These are only a few of the surface things I discovered, and I had to make a few changes in order to feel that it is possible to accept myself. I have done terrible things in the past, things I have to make peace with. I know I will still do terrible things in the future because I am human and to err is to be human. Knowing that I am not above reproach and that perfection is only a myth, has given me the self-confidence to answer, do and react in a way that is authentically me. To be true to me has given me the self-esteem I lacked, and today I can say: I like the person that I am. Flaws and all.
Since becoming more ME I have pulled people towards me. I have forged new friendships, business relationships and other connections. I feel more loved and understood, feel like I have to apologise less and enjoy a lot more. It has been the best thing I could do for myself, and now I am in the privileged position of helping my kids discover who they are. And to grow into who they were meant to become, flaws and all.