How often have you said to yourself, “Once I ___ (make more money, lose weight, move locations, etc.), I’ll be happy”? This thought is common for many of us. In fact, many people find themselves attached to the belief that gratification and self-acceptance will come once something changes about our lives. But what if that’s actually not the case?
They say world peace begins at the individual level. In order to cultivate a planet of love, belonging and joy, we must embody these qualities within our own lives. Too often our focus is directed toward what is wrong with our current experience – a sneaky yet powerful way of training the mind to have a “self-defeat” or “self-hatred” mindset. Sometimes our suffering comes from none other but our own hand, and the damage is real. But while our own minds can seem like our biggest bully, they are actually our wisest teacher and closest friend. So how can we access that love, belonging and joy within our individual lives? We want to see it in the world, but first we have to see it in ourselves!
Outsmarting the Mind
The mind is cleverer than we believe. Oftentimes what we perceive to be rejection or criticism from others isn’t that at all – it’s the perceived idea that we believe something about us can be rejected or criticized. When we have an interaction with someone who leaves us feeling this way, it often comes from a deeply held belief that something is inherently wrong with us. Thus, we assume responsibility and feel at fault for someone else’s choices or opinions.
Radical self-acceptance is compassion in action. It means seeing things as they truly are and still being thankful for every room in your house – every imperfection, mistake and misunderstanding. Many times, our negative experiences (like those that left us feeling rejected) teach us what qualities we need to work on for ourselves – and that often includes feelings of acceptance, value and love. A history of being constantly criticized or belittled makes it hard not to internalize these qualities. However, “negative” emotions like anger, unacceptance or sadness in result of how we’ve been treated are often the best guides. They show us exactly where we need to nurture ourselves, in the here and now. As Tracee Ellis Ross puts it, “…the more time I spend really accepting and allowing myself to be exactly where I am, the faster it is I move toward what I want to be doing.” In essence, it’s about shifting the perspective from what is wrong with ourselves and our experience, to what is right – the vibration of forgiveness, love, and unconditional acceptance. In order to manifest this, it must first be embodied.
Two Practices to Try
Radical self-acceptance is often easier said than done. It’s not usually an overnight shift, although if it is for you – that’s exactly the way it should be! Here are two ways to incorporate this practice into your daily life:
Know what acceptance feels like: Experiment with mantras such as “I am already enough” “I have everything I need right here” “I am free and proud to be myself” “I am whole and healthy.” If you find your mind engaging in any negative self-talk (that idea that happiness will come when something changes), consciously replace the thought with your mantra. After a few times of doing this, it becomes a habit.
Use a tool: Crystals are wonderful to use when working on self-acceptance. Try stones such as Citrine, which raises self-esteem and stabilizes the emotions, or Covellite, which encourages self-reflection and enhances analytical thinking.