TO REJECT ONESELF
It appears to be common knowledge that loving yourself is healthy for you in scores of ways. Although it is so obvious, we are still walking around thinking:
- I shouldn’t have done that.
- God I’m such an asshole.
- I’m way too emotional.
- I can’t get it right.
- There must be something wrong with me.
- Everyone has faults, and I do too of course, although I still don’t like them
- If my friends (partner) really knew me, they would think less of me
- I don’t have what it takes
- I’m not good/smart/attractive/strong enough.
- I shouldn’t be thinking like this!
This stuff hurts even to read, let alone think to yourself. How often do we talk to others like that? It seems like we abuse ourselves more than anyone else, affirming to ourselves that we are in some way wrong or worthless. When I notice myself thinking like this I tend to bury my face (or put on a brave, but not totally genuine, one). I have also noticed, however, that when I bury those feelings they tend to sneak back up. If I look at them, hold them, and decide not to condemn myself, I can let the thoughts be and choose not to blame myself for them. One trick is not getting stuck in the loop of, “Don’t think like that! Don’t be so hard on yourself!” It is difficult to recognize that we are not inherently messed up somehow.
The logic of Self Rejection is that I’m not good enough the way I am so I need to change. While this thinking may motivate you briefly, it ends up causing a struggle. You force yourself to be different and consistently criticize your every move and thought. Sounds exhausting! Good thing there are other options.
TO ACCEPT ONESELF
Self Acceptance isn’t apathy concerning our faults or resigning to mediocrity or even glasses that only allow you to see puppies and rainbows. It is an ability to honestly perceive ourselves and offer unconditional love despite anything we perceive as flaws — a blend of forgiveness and objectivity. In meditation, we practice noticing our thoughts without judgment. We allow thoughts to pass through our awareness without deciding they are wrong or right. In abstaining from judgment, we can understand that they are merely thoughts and not reality. This is exercising objectivity. With patience we can see what kind of thoughts make up our daily stream of consciousness, and that information is valuable for picking out what matters to us.
If the approach of objectivity seems foggy to you, consider forgiveness. When I feel ashamed or regretful of my actions, I find it powerful to forgive myself for what I have done. By choosing not to force ourselves to be different and instead allowing ourselves to be exactly as we are, we are freed from this cycle of acidic blame. From that space, far more exciting possibilities become clearer/available.
Life is more enjoyable when you’re not always wrong. For one thing, we experience less stress, which directly relates to our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
What can you forgive yourself for?
- What would it feel like if you knew there was nothing wrong with you? Why?
- When you watch your thoughts, are they mostly negative or positive, or neither? What kinds of problems do you tend to focus on?
- Self Empathy
- Radical Gratitude