Someone recently said to me “You have an opportunity to practice radical self acceptance”. She seemed pretty excited about it. A lot more excited about it than I was at that moment.
At that moment, I was overwhelmed with feelings and judgments about my past and the girl I once was. I was frantically trying to pick and choose the parts of that previous version of me that I wanted to incorporate into the much improved (by my judgment) version of me now. I knew what she meant by ‘radical self acceptance’. I knew that in order to integrate all the attributes I wanted from my younger, feistier self, I’d have to accept her; the good, the bad and the ugly. A lot of ugly.
I wasn’t sure how to do that. It felt the same as the first few times I tried radical forgiveness. Awkward; like a new language that you’re not sure you’re speaking correctly.Then, I had an epiphany. Or what might be called Guidance stepping in and saying “here, look at this…” Since I’m such a visual thinker, it helps me makes sense of things if I can actually see them. So, I actually looked at myself. I got out some photos of myself from newborn all the way to today. And I really looked at myself. Not that judgy, scrutinizing way we look at ourselves, but in a way that I actually saw myself; remembered what I was feeling at those ages, what was happening in my life. It was indeed, radical.
That helped me remember that I was always acceptable, and forgivable. Seeing myself as a twenty-something girl trying to figure out how to grow up and be a woman, was really enlightening. It made self acceptance, even of the radical kind, automatic; the same way we accept our children. Even when their behavior is less than ideal.
I think I had been judging the twenty-something version of me with the same measuring stick I would use on today’s version of me. Sort of assuming that she should have known then what I know now.
Do you do that? Do you hold yourself to a standard that you wouldn’t hold a loved one to? I bet you do. You should stop it. You wouldn’t believe how freeing it is to let that shit go. And accepting yourself doesn’t mean saying “Everything I did is A-Okay, because I accept it all!” That is not what it’s about.
It’s about extending love to yourself in all of your beautiful, painful, I can’t believe I did that, GLORY! It’s about acknowledging the path you’ve been on. In the end, it can be about saying “I am so glad I lived through that and learned through that so I can be where I am today…”
Thank you, Seneca Schurbon of Freedom Flowers http://www.freedom-flowers.com/ for your astute guidance in flower essences and for being excited about this way before I was. The work continues, as does my radical self acceptance 🙂