We hear a lot about how aging gives us the added benefit of learning to accept ourselves. And what a boon that becomes.
Developmental Psychology tells us that as we age we tend to experience more calmness and serenity. Acceptance may be the contributing factor.
With aging comes the ensuing “acceptance” that allows us to decrease our anxiety and live a happier life. Or that’s the idea. But what do we actually choose to accept?
Lately I’ve been thinking, are we really accepting the difficult parts of ourselves that work to quiet the inner critic? The parts of ourselves that make us cringe? Or do we simply cop out and accept the parts of ourselves that are easy, like “Oh well, I guess I’m lazy and that’s ok. BAM. I accept it”. Or, “I guess I’m just self centered, and well, ok, I accept it.” Done.
To truly accept oneself and gain the inherent benefits you need to feel the sting. It has to hurt.
l. Virtually gather the criticisms about you that you’ve heard or accurately imagined from those you’ve hurt or pushed aside.
2. Combine these criticisms with those from your close friends and family members who support you.
3. Add up all their critiques to find the consistencies.
These knocks may cause you to shutter with embarrassment. Your back might arch in defensiveness when recounting their opinions about where you fall short. This difficult self knowledge and awareness will set you free. Accept them. Own them.
Here’s a personal story. Last year my friend Susan, who is a Therapist, asked me why I flip through friends the way I do? I got defensive and said something like, “Since I have so many I can afford to lose some”. But upon further reflection when I revisited my defensive posture and even embarrassment I came up with a truer statement that incorporates a longer life pattern: “When I feel under attack or judged, I’m quick to distance myself from others in order to self protect.” BAM. With this kind of acceptance the load will inevitably grow lighter.
Self acceptance doesn’t mean you can’t change nor does it mean you have to change. Even a kinder gentler zebra still has its stripes. It just means you’ve truly acknowledged the uglier parts of yourself. From this point on you can truly build self acceptance and ultimately quiet the self critic that lives within you.