“What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?” -Oriah Mountain Dreamer
The very base of my self-love, of my willingness to adore myself, starts with acceptance. It starts with truly being, loving, and accepting the person I really am.
It’s a work in progress, of course.
Some days I don’t want to accept my struggles as I interact with the world — those times when I’m caught up in busyness at the neglect of self-care, when I fail to follow through on commitments, when I lose patience with my husband. Some days I’d like to ignore my personal weaknesses — my need for privacy, the fine line I toe between emotional IQ and manipulation, my dramatic sensitivity — and only show you the toned down shades of my shadow self. Some days I fight wildly against the present — the hardships, the unknowns, the quest for freedom.
But can we practice self-love without accepting who we are?
The simple answer is no. Our self-love would be built on false ideals of who we’d like to be in the future, of who we imagine we might be if the world didn’t know our secrets. We would dole out our self-love if only we made more money, lost more weight, made a bigger difference.
We would move forward in life trying to win our own approval with affirmations, awards, achievements.
Without acceptance, it wouldn’t be fierce self-love. We’d be licking the whipped cream off the top and thinking we were tasting the entire key lime pie.
Navigating the balance between healthy striving to become the best version of myself and loving myself exactly as I am isn’t easy.
It’s fucking hard sometimes.
But I want to be the person I really am. And that desire starts with acceptance.
Luckily, accepting who I am is more than embracing my (gorgeous, quirky, messy) imperfections. It’s also about celebrating my strengths, admiring my awesome, appreciating my honor.
I can adore my infectious smile, my work ethic, my overflowing affectation, my laser sharp memory for others’ stories and situations. I can accept my shining glimpses of glory — having a breakthrough conversation, summiting a new mountain, simply getting to the magical inbox zero. I can be grateful for my desire to make a difference and my belief that people are good. I can revel in the present — the richness of love and support, the gifts of a growing family, the health of my body.
Acceptance isn’t handing the reigns of your live over to fate, but relishing the present moment.
“When we put down ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is.” -Tara Brach
Acceptance is both a call to respect the entire range of emotions we experience and a reminder that we are all doing the best we can in the moment. We can open our eyes to the present, without worrying so much about the past and without so much anxiety about the future.
It doesn’t mean that we can’t grow, change, bloom or reinvent. Acceptance, as requisite for self-love, is a call for compassion, not an excuse for apathy. Embracing of our whole self allows us to unfurl and feed our true desires from a steady base of honesty, clarity and self-love.
Self-love needs acceptance to put down roots.
When we embrace the fullness of who we are — quirks, gifts, idiosyncrasies, strengths and all — we give ourselves permission to relax into our own lives. A state of fierce, radical love for ourselves cannot be built with a pick and choose mentality. We cannot celebrate pieces of our lives, while denying others. There’s no eating the marshmallows and leaving the charms swimming in the milky bowl.
I think the question should be “In how many ways can I be myself?”
And the answer? The good, the bad, the pretty, and the ugly…
I can accept responsibility for my actions. I can accept that I am still discovering how to be the truest version of me in a world of pressure and hunger and strife. I can accept that I’m whip-smart and ambitious. I can accept my desire to be validated. I can accept the cellulite on my thighs, our undecorated bedroom, the sorry of collection of bras that actually fit right now, the state of my garage, and the fact that I’m incredibly behind on emails. I can accept my amazing book collection, my loyalty, my craving for adrenaline, my strong beliefs in equality, and my love for my unborn son.
The answer I’m working up to?
I accept my life and myself, without shame, guilt or doubt, but with an open heart and joyful celebration.
All in the name of self-love, baby.
In how many ways can YOU be yourself?