Steps to Love and Accept Yourself

My friend Robert had a plaque on his desk.

It was a play on the word “Savior”.  

It read: Savyour Self.

What is Self Acceptance and Self Love?

It’s kind of the opposite of the thoughts and feelings generated by the Judge in your mind (inner critic).  I know that telling you it’s the opposite of something doesn’t tell you what it is, but it’s a start. Imagine that that the critical voice in your head wasn’ t there. Imagine that instead, there was a kind soft voice that cut you slack when you didn’t do your best. It gave you permission to rest and enjoy things, and said, “good for you” when you did kind things for yourself.

Imagine that there was a lot of quiet in your mind. And in that quiet, there was a part of the mind that was on the look out for things to find pleasure in.  That part of your mind encouraged you to take time and enjoy some fruit during the day, and really savor the taste of an apple, or some grapes. There was an attitude that you had permission to not push yourself so hard, and to take a nap when you were tired. Maybe it gave you thoughts like, “You did a lot already today. Take some time and enjoy yourself for a few hours.”  Or maybe it said, “Yeah, you didn’t do much today, but that’s okay.  Sometimes you need to take it easy and relax.”

And when you make a mistake, or things don’t turn out as hoped, it cuts you some slack. “Hey, you gave it your best shot. Let’s take some time to see what we did right. Then let’s take some time to review and see what we can do to improve for the next time.”

This kind of internal dialog is possible. It happens when your mind is expressing in a way of self-acceptance and self-love.

In those states of self-acceptance and self love your mind seeks out more pleasure in life. You have more quiet space to tune your attention to the enjoyment of breathing, the smell of flowers, flavors of foods, and nice pleasures in relationships.

It’s possible to have a mind that relates to your Self, and the world this way. If you aren’t there, then the first step is to make a commitment to get there. Which means to get out of how your mind currently operates. Then you work through a couple more steps and you can have a mind like that. Here is some things you might run into along the way to self-love and acceptance based on my experience.

Domestication and Denial

Growing up, I learned to prioritize being a success, making a good impression, and winning. The downside of that emphasis was that it didn’t allow me to be less than perfect, have faults, be vulnerably honest with my emotions, and have learning experiences to grow from. The result was that so many emotions of fear, insecurity, self-judgment got planted and then expanded in sub-conscious.

I mistook “putting up an image of strength” as “being strong.” I mistook suppressing my insecurities and fear as “being confident.” I mistook projecting my “best self” forward as being positive.

What I was doing was learning to live a lie about my identity. In reality, there were two lies. One that I was this “success” without faults that I wanted others to see. The second was this “not good enough” character afraid of what others thought of “me” version that I was hiding.

These two aspects of my stories: All the beliefs about myself about being good enough and better than anyone else, and all the fears of being not good enough and worse than everyone else, is what made up my self-importance or ego.

Of course, I didn’t know I was doing it. I wasn’t consciously aware that these programmed beliefs of two false identities and other emotions weren’t actually “me” either.

Since I didn’t have the skills to navigate those repressed emotions and beliefs, it felt much better emotionally to keep those things I suppressed and ignored. But that only worked for a while. Those emotions caught up to me later in life when I could no longer ignore what I felt.

Thank god for my denial system back then. It was highly developed. And it allowed me to suppress, and repress, and hide all that I didn’t know how to deal with. I didn’t know how to love myself, but my subconscious beliefs were protecting me from a lot of negative thoughts and emotions. Although, I’d have to undo this repression later for more growth and self love.

Learn by doing it wrong

That’s the self-critical thing. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I wasn’t even aware it was there since I was convinced I was under the illusion that “I was the character” in all those stories. It seems ridiculous now since the “character” in those stories is obviously so many different things.

I didn’t know how not to believe the Inner Critic of the Judge.

I didn’t know how to see fear and insecurity as a story.

I didn’t know how to observe the Victim as a character in that story.

I didn’t know how to be an Observer of my out-of-control mind.

You start by falling down a lot. 

Of course, I didn’t have the skills for this “mindfulness” stuff, but that’s how this works. You start before you are ready. How can you learn to swim before you get in the water? You can’t. How can you navigate all these emotions and false beliefs while still in denial?  You can’t. You have to open up, be overwhelmed, and learn by trial and error how to swim through the currents and pools of emotional stories.

You only feel ready once you work through your emotions and clean up your programmed belief stories.

Does this seem backward to you?

It sure did to me until I thought about it some more.

We learn to walk before our muscles and nervous system are developed. And it is the repeated standing up and taking more steps after we fall that is the growth beyond just crawling.

Cracking the World of Self-Importance

Oh, and I didn’t know how to love and accept myself. I was so busy trying to be a “success” that I didn’t even consider it important.

The day that I started to feel and notice my self-importance (ego, fears). WOW!. I saw past that projected success and “secure” image as just a story, and there were many other versions of myself sitting there with unworthiness. I was feeling old emotions, memories of failures, and rejections attached to past versions of myself. I was teetering on not identifying with them as I observed and felt them.

In the midst of the tears, a character was crying out, “Who will love me?” It wanted me to look around, find someone, have them look at me, hold me, love me, and accept all these parts of me that felt inadequate. It wanted to know that it would still be loved even if it was ugly, stupid, flawed, and not as good as anyone else.

This voice from inside was afraid of not being loved if it wasn’t perfect, successful, smart, funny, articulate, good looking, in shape, happy, kind, always giving, positive, and confident. That’s all it wanted, to be loved.

My self-importance had been working hard putting on a “success” image for years. It was exhausting. I didn’t know how exhausting because other characters had beliefs that I wasn’t allowed to be tired. (Tired was associated with weakness.)

More Observing and Being Present

But as I was feeling that impulse to reach out to someone to love me, I also felt another tug to wait. Sit with that impulse to seek love from someone. I waited and got present with that impulse. I observed the impulse as another level of reaction.

The fear inside wanted love from another. It was looking for an antidote to the fear of not being loved, and it wanted some unshakable source to reach me and always be there loving me. But there was something not right about seeking this from another human. In my skepticism, I found there was a lot that wasn’t right about it.

  1. They would see the success images and love that, and that wasn’t ALL of ME.

  2. They would see their image version of me and not all that was within ME.

  3. They might just be loving me from their characters trying to be the pleaser and hero to me, instead of loving all of ME from their integrity. 

  4. Other humans were also not necessarily reliable. They weren’t going to be there for me every day to prop me up. They might have their own needs, likes, dislikes, or die before me, and then where would I be? I would no longer have the antidote to an internal fear.

I wondered who would be there for me that I could count on for my whole life…

I muddled around, feeling like I would never get my antidote. I would never get the love that I wanted. It seemed that I couldn’t rely on anyone with 100% certainty.

I don’t know how I stumbled upon the idea, but it popped into my head.

I could love myself.

It scared me at first.

What if my love wasn’t good enough?

What if I find out terrible stuff inside of me that I couldn’t stand?

Well, if it was that terrible, then other people probably wouldn’t like it either. So, after considering the alternatives.

    Relying on other people to love me when I won’t….?

    Not loving myself …?

    Living with this fear and unworthiness inside knowing I was pretending on the outside….?   ( I could no longer pretend to “not know” what I felt inside)

I didn’t have a choice. The alternatives were not an option.

I had to love myself, no matter what.

I had to go forward with it, no matter what I found, or how it felt. I had to trust that I would make my peace with all that I discovered was within.  It was a leap of faith.  The other options were just simply too full of lies and false stories to continue to live with.

It wasn’t that this seemed like a plan that would work, or that I felt confident about. It’s that the other options were so much worse.

I made a new commitment,

“I will love and accept myself no matter what.” 

No matter what I find, what I feel, what images or fears are there, I will love and accept myself no matter what. I committed to it with every cell of my being.

While crying and afraid, leaning against the columns in the ruins of that Mexican temple,  a seed of a new belief and commitment came alive in me. It seemed fragile and vague at the time that I would be my most reliable source of unconditional love.

A Seed of a Dream Grows when Nurtured with Practice

That seed has grown over many years. It’s a tree now and has much deeper roots and a canopy around me now. Sometimes, a strong wind takes out a branch, or it seems to lose its leaves in a cold winter period. I don’t know if that tree of unconditional love for myself will last through every storm and challenge there is, but each season it gets stronger.

You are planting seeds and growing New Dream. What are you growing inside of you

Plant the seed in yourself, make the commitment to your Self,

“I will Love and Accept myself just the way that I am.”

Then feed it with faith, trust, and spread it around your mind and emotions.

And watch the New Dream grow.

Bring that new dream of unconditional love for yourself to all those parts inside, calling out for the antidote. This is the way you will Savyour Self from lies and self-importance.

 

If you want to get out of the stories in your head and get the stories out of your head, check out the Self Mastery Course.  

In my course, I will walk you through the steps to self love and acceptance.

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