Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pursuit of Self-Acceptance

"When I accept myself, I am freed of the burden of needing you to accept me." 
~ Dr. Steve Maraboli

When we journey into ourselves for whatever reason, to improve our health, wellness, spirituality or for greater understanding and empathy for ourselves and others we begin to reference a lot of interactions with other people as mirroring. It can help us learn and grow when we ponder people or circumstances that seem to make us feel something extreme. The idea that if we see what is being reflected at us that makes us feel triggered in some way, (regardless of whether we perceive it as "good" or "bad"), often causes us to believe or feel that we can find resolution around something within our selves that we may be suppressing, denying, battling, or even allowing to control us (patterns). Often times this also comes up when we feel a deep connection or resonance with someone else and what intrigues us about them is quite possibly something we want to delve deeper into within ourselves so we choose to invest in this other person on some level because we see them almost as a means to our own greater and deeper wisdom and quite possibly a deeper sense of self-acceptance. It can be easy to forget that something familiar in someone else doesn't necessarily equate to a healthy relationship, regardless of the type of relationship. Sometimes familiar is an unhealthy pattern we can relate to and have related back to us. Two unhealthy patterns joining rarely grow into healthier patterns.

The process of self-discovery is a seductive one and we can become so enamored with it that it becomes more of a cycle and less of what its original intention was when we decided to begin the journey. In one of my Cranial Sacral therapy classes a couple of my instructors would remind us, almost as a way of preparing and cautioning us, that people can become addicted to their own process. This is profoundly real. We can strive so hard and develop such an intense longing to accept ourselves that we pursue anything that reflects something in us that we want to explore no matter how much awareness we already have around it. We become seduced by our reflection in others and begin to rely so heavily on what we see in someone else's eyes - even spirit or sense of self - that we begin to lose ourselves in them (if only for a moment or long-term). This, I believe, is the 'burden' stated in the quote above. The burden is simply the amount of importance and value we place on others to reflect what we want to see (or feel), light or dark, good or bad, so we can explore ourselves from a safe distance and not really ever have to BE with ourselves. Instead we avoid our true selves further, distancing ourselves from our own ability to accept who we are without the attachment to defining this "thing" or experience as "good" or "bad", light or shadow; becoming distracted by the attachment of longing to define ourselves and find validation outside ourselves. Remaining a victim to the self-perpetuated cycle and drama of the ongoing search, ignoring what we already have.

To me, it's radical self-acceptance to see those reflections, feel those connections, notice the triggers and BE with them without becoming seduced, entranced and distracted by them because those moments are when we can be the least accepting of ourselves. It also means that we can see our desirable traits and our less desirable ones, our light and shadow, talents and challenges and witness them as they show up and dance with one another in our everyday life. We can sit as observers and at the end of each day we can note what things we want to enhance within ourselves and what opportunities we were shown to help us there. Then we can wake up each morning with a fresh intention and a rebirth, accepting ourselves free from the burden of wondering who we want (perceived need) to find to help us accept who we are as well as becoming free of the fear of what happens when we meet someone that intrigues or triggers us in a powerful way.

These interactions do have value but it's how desperate our longing to attach meaning (our identity) to them and how consumed we become by them that becomes more defining and even defeating as opposed to love and acceptance of self. Time invested in exploring ourselves through others compared to time alone - comfortable, without the need for distractions, entertainment or another person speaks volumes on your level of self-acceptance. No one else can give that to you. We don't need anyone's permission to accept who we are except permission from our selves. Do you give yourself permission to accept who you are today, right now in this moment? Are you willing to look in the proverbial mirror reflected in your interactions with others free of attachment to any specific outcome but merely as a witness, reflecting on what you observe when you make time to be alone at the end of the day?

What if we replaced the word "happiness" in the following quote to "self-acceptance"?

"Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder..." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Then perhaps you won't be one of the people Thoreau references when he says, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

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