Acceptance, as a noun, can be defined in different ways. For the purpose of this blog I’m interested in the definition of acceptance as a ‘process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable.’ We are constantly encouraged to improve, excel and exceed expectation. These messages from the media, our loved ones, friends and ourselves can be encouraging and motivate us to achieve our goals. But the downside is that one can internalise these messages and easily fall into the trap of thinking, ‘I am not…. good, thin, rich, fit, beautiful, smart, successful, etc.… enough’. This type of thinking can have detrimental effects and lead to a un-acceptance or even an estrangement of yourself. Robert Holden wisely indicated that ‘no amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.’
In my personal life, as well as my coaching work, I experience and see that acceptance is easier said than done. We would rather criticize than accept ourselves. After some thinking and working on accepting myself more, I want to share with you what I think acceptance stands for:
A – Aware. The first step is to become aware of the voice of self-criticism, the judge within as Byron Brown refers to in his book ‘Soul without shame’. According to him self-judgement is based on the ‘accumulation of all the knowledge you believe you need to be successful, safe, supported, recognized and loved in this world’. Luckily this is only a part of who you are. You are not the inner-judge. You are not your thoughts or mind. You also have an inner-guide. As you focus more on your inner-guide or inner-voice you become more aware of your soul nature, your potential and how the inner-judge can limit you.
C – Compassion. Show compassion and kindness for yourself. Research indicates that humans function best when we feel loved. We can cultivate a loving relationship with ourselves by cultivating a desire to be compassionate towards ourselves. So that when we fail we treat ourselves with warmth and understanding rather than criticism. These compassionate and soothing thoughts calms the inner-critic voice.
C – Curiosity. Start to become curious about you. Explore the amazing different parts there is to you. Be curious about what is actually going on inside you? What are you thinking, feeling and experiencing through your body?
E – Enough. Embrace the fact that you are already enough just as you are. We live in a world that either focuses on scarcity or abundance. Media that always tells us what we have or who we are is not enough, we need to strive for more.
P – Practice. Accepting our circumstances and us is not something you do once. It is a daily practice. The more you practice acceptance, the more you will become aware of other possibilities to be. It is important to remain patient with yourself through the process of acceptance.
T – Trust. Start trusting yourself and the truth of who you are.
A – Allow. You have to allow yourself or give yourself permission so to speak to approve and appreciate who you are just as you are, right now. Not when you are 3 kg lighter or when you’ve finished another degree or when you have a management job or live in a fancy house or drive the fastest car.
N – Non-judgement. Acceptance can only happen if we become less judgemental with ourselves and stop believing the self-judgement. The act of judging underlies the need for everything to be in a certain way. When you become more non-judgemental you stop running away from yourself and start walking towards yourself.
C – Centredness. In order to accept oneself it is important to be able to centre your attention and connect to your inner truth. When we constantly focus our attention on others and their approval or acknowledgements of us, we become uncentred and sometimes compromise ourselves. But when we practice the ability to centre our attention we cultivate our capacity to be without doing. We slowly stop needing the affirmation of others to feel good about ourselves.
E – Embrace. Embrace your uniqueness and stop comparing yourself to others.
By proclaiming that we must start to accept others, our circumstances and ourselves more, I am not advocating that we must not want to change. Change is important but as Bryant McGill said ‘Acceptance is the road to all change’