Compassionate Self-Acceptance

Take a couple of slow and long breaths and say to yourself 'I deeply and completely accept and love myself, just as I am.' How does your body respond, do you feel peaceful, light and expanded, or tense, contracted and heavy? Do you genuinely accept and love yourself or do you not?
Accepting and loving yourself to some people sounds like a bit of an airy fairy thing to do. It can sound self-indulgent, self-centred and unnecessary. ‘Surely if I accept myself, I won’t be motivated to achieve things’ protested one client of mine. Another felt that if he accepted and loved himself, that he would no longer be a man, a man as he went on to say ‘needs spine, needs vision, not a soft heart’. In truth, and as I told him, for emotional well-being and peace of mind we need both ‘spine’ – in which we speak truthfully, are able to accept and honour boundaries and act with integrity, we need ‘heart’ the capacity for acceptance, love and compassion, both for ourselves and for others and we need ‘guts’, the ability to act courageously and to do so despite our fears. It’s a question of balance.

The Self-Acceptance Solution

In my own work as a medical doctor, 90 per cent of the people who come to me lack self-acceptance and self-love. This lack is felt as a ‘hole in the soul’, a deep sense of emptiness within side of themselves. It’s the deep existential pain of having lost sight of the deep knowing that you are loved and loveable, that you are love. Like someone who is looking for their car keys outside in their garden, when they are sitting on a table in their hallway, so many of us go looking for love in the wrong place.  We turn to partners, our parents, our work or to control, busyness, alcohol, food, drugs, prescription medications, work, sex and numerous other ‘fillers’ to provide the love we seek, yet, as we all know in our own experience, none of them truly provide the fulfilment that we need. How can they, our love resides within our own hearts! So how can we open our hearts and know ourselves as love? One way, and the way I am going to share with you is through self-acceptance and self-love

What is Self-Acceptance & Self-Love?

Self-acceptance is the process of bringing an inner acceptance to the reality, right now of everything about you, warts and all. When you unconditionally accept yourself you see yourself and all the different aspects of yourself in this moment – thoughts, feelings, images, behaviours, appearance and life situation – clearly, with a welcoming attitude of non-judgment and non-attachment. You are saying that you like or approve of different aspects of yourself; you are just accepting the reality of their existence in this moment. Self-love is the infusion of this inner acceptance with warmth, respect, understanding and compassion. The two, self-acceptance and self-love create compassionate self-acceptance.

Compassionate Self-Acceptance Leads to Inner Peace

At first glance the descriptions of self-acceptance and self-love sounds like a recipe for passivism, for surely if we accept our self just as we are the drive to change or improve will disappear? The reality it doesn’t. The process of compassionate self-acceptance often triggers deep changes that can evolve us in ways we simply couldn’t have previously imagined was possible. Rather than having our lives driven by resistance, fear and self-rejection, through compassionate self-acceptance we start to become driven by love, acceptance and self-expression.
In each moment we therefore have a choice. We can either choose the path of self-rejection (fighting against the reality of yourself in this moment) or choose the path of compassionate self-acceptance (the warm embrace of how you are in this moment). The gift in relating to ourselves from compassionate self-acceptance, rather than self-rejection, is that a freedom, clarity, openness, sensitivity and joy that starts to arise spontaneously from within. We now intuitively know what to do and how best to respond to our life situation. Rather than being driven by fear and self-rejection of yourself, our actions simply become an expression of who we truly are at the deepest level.

Why is Self-Acceptance & Self-Love Important?

Self-acceptance and self-love is intrinsically connected to your level of fulfilment, happiness and peace of mind. People with a high level of self-acceptance and self-love:
  • Are able to experience joy and freedom in most circumstances
  • Feel the full spectrum of emotions without getting caught up in them
  • Experience a deep connection to divinity, life, God or spirit
  • Feel healthier, happier and more at peace
  • Experience a deep gratitude and reverence for life
  • Are present, awake and aware in the moment
  • Are able to develop intimate and loving relationships with others
  • Are better able to respond to life’s challenges effectively and creatively
  • Are much less likely to have depression or mental health problems
  • Are less likely to experience addictions, take drugs or have problems with friendships and relationships
  • Are more likely to treat other people with respect, care and kindness
  • Are better for society as a whole

In my experience someone with a high level of self-acceptance has an ease and lightness of being about them and an ability to accept life on life’s terms.

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