Since yesterday’s blog, I spent a group therapy session with my clients exploring more specifically about how to reclaim their self-acceptance. I use the word reclaim because innately we are born accepting ourselves but through life we begin to question whether we should be OK with who we are. Troubled parents teach us that we are not OK. Schools teach us we are not OK. Churches preach to us about not being OK in what we think, say and do. From then on our self-talk takes care of the rest. Once we have heard enough critical remarks or questions about who we are we then continue the self-questioning and self-judging for the rest of our lives. The early programming of the mind tends to dominate our self-image unless we change it.
In my 30 plus years as a therapist I have come to better understand how to help people find self-acceptance again. These are some of my findings:
• Change your self-talk. If your inner dialogue is not supportive and encouraging, it must be change to reflect a much more positive outlook about yourself. A simple practice is to daily spend time paying attention to how you talk to yourself. When you are down on yourself, be kind and change it to be supportive.
• Become more aware. Knowing who you are, what you feel, how you think, will expand your awareness. The more you get to know yourself and appreciate your amazing uniqueness, the more you will fell good about yourself. Yes you are totally unique and that is the way it is suppose to be. You are OK no matter what anyone else says or thinks. The Mindful practices in past postings can be very helpful in expanding your awareness
• Live as fully as you can in the present. When you focus on the past, you miss out appreciating who you are in the now. When you hold off feeling good until some imaginary time in the future, you keep yourself from enjoying yourself and your life today. Meditation is a wonderful practice for helping you be present; so is walking meditation. Accept you and your life today and tomorrow will look much better.
• Have an open heart. This is a favorite them of mind as you know if you read my blog regularly. There is a reason for my mentioning this idea often. It seems very clear to me that if you have an open heart you can love yourself and if it is closed you can’t. Not only can’t you love yourself with a closed heart but you can’t really love anyone else in a meaningful way. Having an open heart is transformative for you and the planet. Every day find reasons to love.
• Practice listening to others and being kind. These are two great ideas to help you feel better about yourself. When your really listen to others you get lots of appreciation. I know I do it for a living. This kind of service to others especially those you love makes you feel good about yourself. The second part is even clearer. Acts of kindness always make you feel good about yourself. Listening is one of those acts, so is calling a friend in need, baking cookies for someone who is down, stopping by to visit people who may feel lonely, complimenting a co-worker, volunteering, etc.
• Be purposeful, have a focus and take action. This is a simple formula to build self-acceptance. Find out what your purpose is in this life, focus on making it happen, and take the actions necessary to create success. The more you live with clear purpose and set your sights on making it happen, the better you will feel about yourself. You can do or be anything you set your mind on accomplishing.
• Here are a few more quick ways to self-acceptance worth exploring: forgive yourself, be realistic in what your expect from yourself, keep your mind open to new ideas, practice be patient with yourself, daily do something healthy for your mind, your body, your emotions and your spirit, and lastly find something to enjoy and appreciate about your life every day.
Give these practices a try and let me know how it feels to be accepting of yourself.