Most of us struggle with self-acceptance to some degree or another. We live in a world where we are constantly being told what we should be doing, how we need to dress, behave, and relate to one another. We are even told what we should expect from others, and what to do to get what we want.
In this highly commoditised world, the cynic in me sees that much of this is just intended to urge us to spend more – to buy new clothes, new cars, to adopt new cosmetic and health routines. I don’t believe there is much inherently wrong with this. Ultimately, nothing is good or bad. Everything just is.
However, this myriad of external pressures and expectations creates an almost endless line of challenges that can run to the very core of our identity – the way in which we perceive and understand ourselves and our place in the world. The trap is when we identify too strongly with the façade of the world around us.
But self-acceptance is a lot more than breaking the links between the
material world and our identity. In the ups and downs of life, self-acceptance can be felt, or recognised in those times of quite when we just sit with our self and acknowledge the fact that we like who we are. It can also be experienced powerfully in moments of exuberance when we speak or act in a manner than is in total accord with our innermost spirit. For me, dance has always been a great way of accessing and expressing this. When I am truly accepting and loving myself I dance with joy and energy – and I don’t care what I look like or what others think of me. Conversely, when I am struggling with my self my dancing becomes rigid, heavy and stilted. My dancing is held back by fear.
We can cultivate self-acceptance and love, just as we can cultivate fear. Doing this is liberating. Just imagining it can move your mind to a new place of freedom. The process is different for everyone though. Ask yourself the question, if you were acting in accordance with your true self, what experiences would you bring into your life? How would you do things differently from the crowd?
What can you do today that will help you cultivate your acceptance and love of your self? Think of things that you might have put-off. It might also involve other people. The most important thing is to be motivated by love rather than fear. Think back over the times you have wanted to act in some way but have been afraid to and so have done nothing. If you want to do things differently, you must exchange fear for love.