This article by Robin Gardner appeared in INNER REALM MAGAZINE, September 2004.
Do you spend time looking for the next “right” book, workshop, lipstick color, haircut, weight loss scheme, etc., all in an effort to fix yourself?… Always wanting to improve yourself, as though there’s something fundamentally wrong with you inside. So, why are we brainwashed as a culture to always focus on what’s wrong, rather than on what’s right? Don’t mistake me here, there’s no problem with a little self-improvement but when the underlying belief is that there is something wrong with you, then something is definitely amiss and that’s what can create a problem. At that point, the ability to fix becomes an impossible task. You see you can’t fix anything with that mindset because that’s like putting a small band-aid over a gaping hole. It just doesn’t work. In fact, there will always be one more thing that your mind or ego will want to fix. Consequently, it’s a never-ending cycle that continually repeats itself. The only thing that changes is the next new flavor of the month or quite simply your next desire. What’s also interesting is that when you get tired of working on yourself you then want to fix the other people around you. And when we act like this life just isn’t fun anymore. But how can it be, when we are basically operating with a belief that says we are wrong and not okay.
So what if I said you are okay, just the way you are? How does that feel? Did I get your attention? You don’t need to do anything to be okay. You are perfect, just the way you are. I hear the sound of a deep breath, as in a sigh of relief. This concept can be very freeing to one’s soul. In fact, isn’t this the true meaning of acceptance? Acceptance of who and what we are, right now, in this very moment without putting conditions on ourselves. Remember we can’t be anything different until we are loved and accepted for who we are right now.
So, how can you fully accept yourself? What does it take? Well, first it means looking realistically at yourself with all your strengths and your weaknesses and appreciating everything that encompasses who you are. It’s definitely not about judging yourself and your qualities. In fact, you don’t really have to do anything – just simply be with those traits. You don’t have to love all of them just yet, but rather allow them to just exist in this very moment. While befriending yourself and your traits, it is important to also practice random acts of kindness on a daily basis. That means actively caring for yourself in loving ways. You can start with the 3 basics – eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. Then you will also want to be aware of the messages that you send yourself – make sure they are positive and loving. Always, respect and honor your feelings by allowing them the proper space to be heard. Remember to slow down and make time for yourself without constantly rushing around to complete the items on your “to do” list. And lastly, be true to yourself by learning how to say “no” when something doesn’t feel right for you.