If you have gone through most of your life trying to please others by being a certain way, the idea of accepting yourself can be scary.
As humans, we have Universal Needs for love and belonging and, as twisted as it is, it seems like being ourselves can threaten getting those needs met.
But, there also comes a time when you realize that fitting in and belonging aren’t the same thing. You start to understand that in order to truly belong, you have to be showing up as yourself to begin with.
As Brene Brown says:
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self–acceptance.
So, if you are in that place and are wondering if this whole self-acceptance thing is for you, I want to share with you how I got started on my path of self-acceptance and bust some myths that I discovered along the way.
How I Discovered The Power of Accepting Yourself
I first learned about self-acceptance when I started practicing intuitive eating. I had been dieting for most of my adult life and had finally lost about 100lbs.
Which sounds awesome, right? Not exactly.
Even though I was the thinnest I had ever been in my adult life, I hated my body more than ever before. My relationship with food was extremely disordered. I was overwhelmed by thoughts calories, good foods, and bad foods. Burning calories was always top of mind. You could find me binge eating boxes of sugar-free fat-free pudding on most evenings.
I thought that losing the weight would make me more confident, healthier, and happier. But, in reality, the opposite seemed to be true, and I wanted some answers.
As if by Divine intervention, I stumbled upon the book, Intuitive Eating. In the book, the authors talk about the science behind why diets don’t work and suggest that in order to be intuitive with food, you have put weight loss on the back burner.
I had been obsessed with weight loss for so long that this was a completely foreign concept.
I Was Scared, But I Jumped In Any Way
I started to seek out others who had hit their diet “rock bottom” and found some forums online. In chatting with other women who were going through the same things, the topic of accepting yourself came up a lot.
If the idea of putting weight loss on the back burner was foreign, the idea of self-acceptance was from a whole other universe!
It was terrifying, to tell you the truth.
But I also knew that what I was doing up until that point felt miserable inside. And that old adage of doing the same things over and over again was ringing in my head.
I knew that I had to get out of my comfort zone if I wanted different results.
So, with no clue what it might look like, I made a commitment to practice self-acceptance.
That was over 10 years ago and it has been quite a journey.
To say that I’ve grown by leaps and bounds would be an understatement. Everything is my life completely different.
- I left a job I despised and started my own business.
- My marriage is happier than ever.
- I’ve reconnected with my family after decades of estrangement.
- I feel at home in my skin and in my life.
- I trust myself.
- I no longer binge eat or yo-yo diet.
And that is just the beginning. None of it would have been possible if I would have continued down the path of self-hatred.
So, today, I want to share with you some of the myths and misconceptions about accepting yourself that I’ve had to work through along the way.
4 Myths That Get In The Way of Accepting Yourself
Accepting Yourself Myth # 1: Self-acceptance means giving up on your goals and dreams.
If you are a personal/spiritual development junkie like I am, it can be really hard to wrap your brain around having goals AND accepting yourself at the same time. It seems like they are direct opposites of one another.
And that might be true if you are chasing goals based on what other people values. But, if you want to manifest intentions that are aligned with your values and needs (not someone else’s), self-acceptance is the place to start.
Self-acceptance is about observing yourself, without judgment, as you are right now. And then, from this non-judgmental place, discerning how you will move forward, in wholeness, towards the goals that are in alignment with your personal core values and needs.
Accepting Yourself Myth # 2: You will never have days when you dislike yourself.
In the end, we all want to like ourselves. We want to be able to feel confident and whole. But, expecting yourself to feel that way all the time goes against the very nature of life and growth.
Life is full of ups, downs, and everything in between. If you feel “happy” about 50% of the time, you are doing AMAZING.
Practicing self-acceptance is no different.
You will have days where you experience and find peace of mind and other days, like when you’ve had a fight with a loved one or when you are running late for something important, where you will question yourself and your “good enough-ness.”
The key is knowing how to bring yourself back to solid ground when the shit hits the fan. That is my personal goal and is the primary reason I created the Shadow + Light eCourse.
Accepting Yourself Myth # 3: Self-acceptance is a magic weight loss pill.
There is no shortage of people who will tell you that loving and accepting yourself is the key to weight loss. And I’m not saying that it isn’t possible or that the desire to lose weight is “bad.”
However, if the only motive for accepting yourself is so that you will lose weight, I have some sobering news for you.
You might lose weight when you accept yourself and you might not.
The reason you weigh what you do is complex.
- stress and stress response
- emotional fluency
- health status
- your history with weight cycling and restricting food (AKA dieting, which is actually the number one predictor of weight gain [reference])
all play a role in what you weigh, many of which you have absolutely no control over.
Self-acceptance doesn’t suddenly give you control over things you have no control over.
But, more importantly than that, accepting yourself is an invitation to dismantle the lies you’ve bought into about what makes you acceptable.
Like I said in myth number #1, when you accept yourself, you are removing the judgments you hold about yourself so that you can move forward from a place of personal integrity, rather than a place dictated by society’s standards of who you should be.
So, no, self-acceptance isn’t a sneaky backdoor method for losing weight.
It is, however, the front door for figuring out who you are besides a woman struggling with her weight.
And one thing I know for sure, you are so much more than any scale could ever define.
Oftentimes, the terms self-love and self-acceptance are used interchangeably. And, no doubt, if you are on the path of one, you are probably also on the path of the other.
But, in practice, what you DO to love yourself and what you DO to accept yourself are different.
Self-love is the act of deliberately understanding, accepting as valid, advocating for, and meeting your values and needs.
Whereas, self-acceptance is the process of looking at the parts of yourself than you deem unacceptable and removing judgment from them (good/bad, right/wrong) so that you can move forward from personal integrity. For many of the women I work with, their needs are one of the things they must remove the judgment from.
If you are don’t believe that your needs are valid, then self-acceptance will be one of your first steps towards and deeply embodied self-love practice.
These are the four big myths and misconceptions that I had to work through as I have worked towards self acceptance.
I hope that my insights have clarified some things for you and have encouraged you to keep going. Continue the path. Look for the things within yourself that you reject, remove your judgments from those aspects, and see what unfolds when you come into integrity with yourself, with your needs, and with your values.