Self acceptance and being proud of yourself….learning how to accept compliments and maybe give yourself some…these are some trends I have seen in my clients. I have to tell you that this is an interesting thing to explore, so I am going to post some of my thoughts and hope to start a conversation with you, but I should warn you this may be a long string of random thoughts…
When I think of self acceptance, I recognize that in reality it is never ourselves that struggle to accept ourselves….its our innate reaction to society for not accepting something about us. Society can be anyone including family, friends, strangers and the media. When we grow up….we have no care in the world….we’d run around naked with that rounded little girl tummy that we could care less about! We dance like no one is watching, we tell ourselves how pretty we look when we play dress up…we lived with fearless abandon. At some point society starts to determine what parts of us are not mainstream and tell us its not ok, tell us its very important to “fit in”…. for some, we begin to turn that inward and find parts of us we don’t like. This may come out in self destructive behavior…albeit this behavior may seem comforting at the time. We turn to food, drugs, cutting, isolation, passive aggressive behavior etc.
Personally I had a hard time accepting myself because I specifically remember being told over and over by my mother that she drank because of me. I couldn’t understand that….I was a solid honor student with good grades, I was a HS cheerleader, I didn’t come home drunk or high and I wasn’t out having sex or really even dating much before my senior year. I had a job when I was 16 and worked well over the minor work rules in NY state at the time…why was I not good enough? It was easy for me to turn toward the self destructive behavior of disordered eating…..what was harder was to recognize the impact this would have on my life. I don’t regret the years I spent with an ED because I am sure I would not be the same. I learned in counseling that I held onto the guilt from my mothers alcoholism, and surprisingly my fathers as well…in retrospect now I can see that I was constantly trying to make up for that in my actions but I was never just ok with who i was.
A number of years ago, I started to make decisions for me. I was careful that they weren’t selfish in the material manner but I put myself first. I didn’t want to be married to my now ex husband; I asked for a divorce. I worked at a job for 12 years that I loved at one point but when they started to crush me, I had to leave. I allowed my parents to continue to penetrate my life with constant judgment and negativity, I made a voluntary decision to remove them from my life. All of these decisions were self serving at the core…but guess what? Every SINGLE one of them has lead to happiness on the other side. I am not telling you to go out and abandon your family and break up with your spouse because they could be your anchor….but what I am saying is the first step to self acceptance IMO is allowing yourself to identify what makes you unhappy and allowing yourself to decide you don’t want any part of it any longer. The weight that is lifted off of your shoulders allows for a beautiful feeling of freedom and your happiness…this may be fleeting or it may be ever lasting. Fleeting because you may soon come face to face with another situation that leaves you feeling unhappy. When I made decisions for myself, when I put the love I needed to have for myself first….I found this rebounded 100 fold! I have been so incredibly amazed at the life that has been afforded to me once I decided to love myself and build myself into the best version of myself I could be. When I was ok with everything about me, when I didn’t give a shit what other people thought of me because I was secure thats what I was…I was able to pour love and compassion in the world with no expectation of anything in return. The rebound has been incredible. I have been able to see that I have a reason and a purpose, I am meant for more in this world…..theres something about me that people trust, and while I cannot put my finger on what or why that is. I take that gift very seriously and know that I cannot squander it. Its a gift that I chose to employ by opening my heart, my mind and frankly my mouth to help others. Fitness isn’t only about the weight you can lift, how far you can run or how good you look in a cutoff. Its about learning that it is ok to put yourself first, learning your stronger than you thought. For some its learning that food is not the enemy. My goal in life is simple: I want to help as many people (men or women) find their confidence, find their voice and live fearlessly as who they are.