Lately I have been wondering a little bit (okay, a lot) about self-acceptance and what it really means. Self-acceptance and self-love is certainly something I want to cultivate in my life, for the rest of my life and I am well on my way to achieving this goal. However, if self-acceptance means accepting and loving yourself unconditionally, then what about change? If you accept yourself just as you are, does this mean you lose all motivation to change your life or make a change? The answer: of course not!
The hardest part of self-acceptance, for me at least, has been learning to love myself as I am now and letting go of my ‘conditions’. These conditions can be anything, but basically negate the whole purpose of self-acceptance. Some of my ‘conditions’ that continue to challenge my journey to self-acceptance go something along the lines of “I will accept myself when I am….thinner/older/prettier/have clear skin/have finished school” and so on and so forth. To truly accept myself unconditionally I must let these conditions go, thus accepting exactly who I am now, in this moment.
But as I hinted at earlier, this self-acceptance posed a few challenges for me. If I accepted myself now, does that mean I never change or take action to change. No. Instead, true self-acceptance gives you the power and energy to make change for all the right reasons. For example, perhaps you are a little overweight and have always said “I will accept myself when I lose ____ kilos.” This mindset guarantees failure, as self-acceptance is determined by the attainment of a physical goal. Instead, do it in reverse. Love and accept yourself first and all of a sudden you love and accept yourself enough to make the healthy changes to lose the weight. Does that make sense to you? Perhaps it’s not quite that simple, but self-acceptance is truly powerful.
In my case, I am continuously striving to improve my health and fitness, but I used to try and get fit for all the wrong reasons. I would tell myself that acceptance would come when I was lean, toned, could run a marathon and looked like someone who lived at the gym (so not me, by the way). I would push myself, but inevitably fail, as the motivation to exercise and ‘get fit’ was coming from a dislike and lack of acceptance of myself and my body. Now, I am accepting of my body exactly as it is (yoga also helped a lot with this) and I use this loving acceptance as my motivation to exercise. I don’t exercise to ‘look’ fit or thin, but because I love my body and want to keep it in the best condition it can be and exercise does this. At the same time I am accepting of the fact that I am probably never going to be the fittest person in the world, but as long as I accept myself then that’s okay.
What are your ‘conditions’ keeping you from self-acceptance? What are you doing to learn to love and accept yourself?