There are traits essential to me that I'm proud of: empathy, creativity, and loyalty.
Then there are the things about myself that I struggle with. Today I'd list sensitivity, anxiety, and forgetfulness. These things are more mutable. They change over time. Ask me tomorrow and that list would be different.
One thing that I've struggled with since I can remember is being especially hard on myself.
I guess that's why I continue to practice and teach growth mindset, self-acceptance and self-compassion: because they help me to forgive myself, honor myself, and be kind to myself. Then, that kindness and care flow outward.
I just want you to know, if you tend to be hard on yourself, you are not alone.
Self-acceptance isn't a skill we learn once. It is a practice, and it begins with self-reflection. First, get clear. This is important: Self-reflection is not the same as self-criticism.
When you go to the doctor, they will ask you what the problem is. Do you say "Oh, I don't want to complain..." and not tell them of your struggles? I really hope not.
We need information in order to have an accurate diagnosis. That information includes both our strengths and challenges. I can't overstate the importance of being aware of the truth of our whole selves. Then, we can start to accept, then have compassion for, and finally love our whole selves.
We can have awareness of our traits without beating ourselves up or bragging. Knowing your strengths and your core values isn't selfish, because you can use your self-knowledge to be of service.
So, let's do an exercise.
Yes, this is yoga. Svādhyāya is the 4th niyama, or observance, and means self-study.
Pause for a moment, and ask yourself, "What makes me, me? What values are essential to me? What strengths are central to me?"
Then comment below with 3 words to describe yourself. I'd love to know more about you and how you see yourself, and I'd love for you to benefit from a moment of self-reflection.
Here is a Practice to Partner With Your Body to Develop Self-Acceptance
What would it be like to be with exactly what's here in your body and your mind?
Here's a practice to develop self-acceptance through body awareness. It will help you move towards more ease, more spaciousness, more grace and trust. You may want to lie down or sit in a relaxed posture. It's a muscle that we can build - the muscle of self-acceptance.
For me, the phrase that has been the most beneficial, simple and powerful, is when something arises I simply say, "This belongs."
Something else arises. "This belongs."
There's a yoga Niyama, or observance, Santosha, which translates as contentment. Not that we're going to stay content with the things that are wrong in the world, but that right now, in this moment, It's already here. This moment's already here exactly as it is, so we can't change this moment. What we can do is bring contentment to this moment, and by not fighting it, we reserve that energy we might use to fight it.
We preserve that energy to instead use it to make a difference in the next moment. It's not condoning inequity or abuse, but it's knowing, in this moment, this is it. In this moment, I have a choice. To resist, to judge, or to say, "This belongs."
Maybe there's only one part of life, or our situation, or ourselves, that we can be content with.
Our contentment is not for anyone else. It's for us. So that we can preserve our energy. So that we can develop deeper self-acceptance. It's not contingent on what anyone else thinks of us, not contingent on comparison or on our circumstances.
One way we can practice is through our bodies.
When you feel a little discomfort here or there, you can practice by saying "This belongs."
Notice where you feel especially relaxed, maybe a certain part of your body or maybe your whole body. "This belongs." Notice part of yourself that actually feels spacious and good. "This belongs."
You notice an ache or a pain. "This belongs..." Because this moment is already here.
I'd love to know more about you and how you see yourself, and I'd love for you to benefit from a moment of self-reflection. Comment below with 3 words to describe yourself.
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