The #1 Problem of Self of Self Acceptance is that it is not so easy to simply accept ourselves when we harbour deeply held opposing views to what we are trying to achieve or be.
We cannot simply overlay these beliefs with a facade of positivity – such as the constant repetition of positive affirmations – and expect that we will somehow transform the greatest depths of our being, where such views are held.
Let’s look at this with an example. Let’s say we believe ourselves to be unworthy of love…
How the view came to be
The view that we are unlovable has arisen somewhere in our past, quite probably in our childhood.
It may have arisen through years of abuse and neglect. Or through the subtle but prolonged exposure to the unconsciously condescending or alienating attitude of a parent.
Or it may have arisen though an isolated but traumatic incident such as a parent’s leaving or death.
And so on.
Whatever the reason, that view formed ‘within’ us, and is now held as part of our identity. It is who we take ourselves to be.
And to ‘kill’ that view, is essentially to ‘kill ourselves’, or who we believe we are.
Why positive affirmations do not work
It follows then that positive affirmations, and other attempts to simply manipulate thought, do not work, because they in no way attempt or are able to tackle these beliefs at the level of identity, at which they exist – deep within our being.
Though we may temporarily manage to convince ourselves that we are worthy of love, it is like trying to calm a child by covering a picture of a monster with successive layers of paint.
As any parent knows, the child is fully aware that the monster still lurks in those painted depths.
And that the conditions which led to the fear of the monster have not been dealt with at all.
What needs to happen
What needs to happen then, is that we turn towards these views rather than covering them up.
We allow ourselves to fully recognise their existence and the effect that they are having on our lives.
Rather than attempting to banish them, we invite them into our awareness and begin to get to know them better.
We begin to dialogue with them.
To ask them why they are here? What they are doing? What is their purpose? And how can we help?
The most necessary thing
The MOST necessary thing we can do to begin this process is simply to be honest. Because without honesty we cannot make any headway at all.
It can be incredibly difficult and even painful to admit, even to ourselves, that we feel unloveable; that we feel worthless; that we feel incredibly alone.
It can feel to us like if we say this, our world will begin to crumble. And we will never be able to find a way back.
This honesty then, is the first step we need. It is the first step of self-acceptance.
It is the doorway to becoming okay with who we are.
Respecting the power of this view.
But because this view has been absorbed into our identity, into who we take ourselves to be, we need to be careful if we are going to challenge it.
Often views don’t like to be challenged.
We know this by the contractions we feel in the body, and the angry thoughts that arise in the mind when someone says something we disagree with. Because this is an example of someone challenging our view.
And we can test this with our current belief. We could say to ourselves the opposing belief, such as: “I am worthy of love”.
When we say this we are not saying it as a positive affirmation, trying to paper-over the outcome.
Instead we are simply dropping the phrase into the depths of our being. And seeing how it responds.
Does that phrase feel true to us? Or does something rise up in response, perhaps with an emphatic “No!”
We may experience this ‘no’ as a bodily contraction, or as thoughts which immediately arise in the mind. Because this is the method our being uses to tell us with certainty that the phrase we are saying does not feel true.
True Self Acceptance
True Self Acceptance really begins when we are able to meet whatever it is that rises up in this way.
These thoughts and sensations are like the sea monsters that lurk in the deep vast caverns of the most lonely oceans.
Barely to they rise to feel the light of the sun’s rays. But rather they need to be coaxed from their hiding and brought into the light.
When we begin this we truly start on a new journey of life. Because less and less are we being driven by unconscious patterns and limiting beliefs; by unprocessed emotions which undermine our confidence and sabotage what we are trying to achieve in our lives.
Instead we begin to integrate our shadow side. We begin to own who we are in our entirety.
And we begin to understand that self-acceptance is a continual process of turning towards that which is hidden, and often covered by fear.
And we begin to realise that if we do dare to face these views that hide within, we find they are ready and willing to talk with us, and mean us no harm.
Like small, wounded and forgotten children, all they really want from us, is love.