“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Self-acceptance can be a difficult skill to master if we’ve experienced being outcast in some way. Perhaps our family did not love and appreciate us, or maybe we suffered from childhood bullying, or maybe our unique traits made it difficult or impossible to find others who wanted to connect in a heart-centered way.
It is very hard to exist in a state of feeling isolated and abandoned. When we’ve been disconnected from our rightful place as divine eternal beings, we don’t understand our purpose; and that makes it difficult to process what is happening to us.
The result is that we may learn to treat ourselves the same way that we’ve been treated. We begin to lose our authentic voice, and the inner critic takes over.
The Inner Critic
Pete Walker states that perfectionism, micromanaging, and harsh judgements of self and others are ways that the inner critic manifests. “Desperate to relieve the anxiety and depression of abandonment, the critic-driven child searches the present, and the future, for all the ways he is too much or not enough… In the process, the critic often becomes virulent and eventually switches to the first person when goading the child: “I’m such a loser. I’m so pathetic… bad… ugly…worthless…stupid…defective”. http://www.pete-walker.com/shrinkingInnerCritic.htm
We don’t have to live like that. We can transform those energies into something more affirming and supportive.
Transforming the Inner Critic
The first step is to recognize the inner critic. When does it pop up? How does it manifest? What does it say?
Does it tell you that you are worthless unless you work all of the time?
Does it miss the many colors and expressions in life and only look at things in a black and white, all or nothing sense?
Does the inner critic directly tell you to embrace shame, guilt, or comparisons to others?
However it comes through for you, it might be helpful to come up with a shield, or a transformation phrase which may sound something like: I hear what you are saying to me, and I refuse to accept it as my truth. Even though, [accurate statement about the situation], I choose to love and accept myself fully and completely.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” ― Lao Tzu
Self-acceptance is not something that can be obtained in one step. It’s a process of embodying kindness towards the self, self-compassion, and inner sustainability.
We appreciate our strengths, recognize our limitations, and accept that no matter what, we deserve to give ourselves unconditional love and kindness. We don’t have to judge, because judgment lacks love. Instead, we can observe ourselves and accurately discern what’s happening while still holding space for transformation.
This means we acknowledge and accept our wounds that have come from what Leon F. Seltzer calls, “conditional love scars”. He writes, “we must come to realize that until now we’ve pretty much felt obliged to demonstrate our worth to others, just as initially we concluded that we had to submit to the judgmental authority of our caretakers. Our approval-seeking behaviors since then have simply reflected the legacy of our parents’ conditional love.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/200809/the-path-unconditional-self-acceptance
The antidote to the deep wounds from experiencing conditional love, is to fill those wounds with unconditional love.
(Choose what fits your situation, or write your own)
- Even though I have negative thoughts, I choose to deeply and completely love accept myself.
- Even though I do not like my life circumstances, I choose to deeply and completely love and accept myself.
- Even though I have emotional wounding, I choose to deeply and completely love and accept myself.
- I stand in the truth of who I am.
- I release the past and create new experiences that are aligned to my authentic expression.
- I am powerful, whole, and complete within myself.