Self-acceptance is something many of us struggle with at least at some points in our life, if not all the time. This can present itself in many different forms, whether that be feeling dissatisfied with our bodies, our achievements or productivity, where we are in life, our relationships, or one of many other factors.
Right now we’re going through one of the strangest times in our lives, and I think focusing on accepting ourselves just as we are is incredibly important. As I mentioned in my previous blog post (see here), there seems to be a lot of pressure to do certain things or behave in certain ways during this pandemic. Whether you’re feeling pressure to be a super-parent, or to be mega productive or start a million side hustles, the messages have been kind of relentless.
Well, I’m going to throw out another suggestion. How about we make a conscious effort to simply accept ourselves exactly as we are, in our current state. I’m working on this myself and it really is bringing me a lot of peace.
This is a challenging time; perhaps you’re in a high-risk group or are worried about a family member or friend, perhaps you are struggling financially or have a tough time dealing with uncertainty (me!) Perhaps you’re working hard to entertain your children or having a difficult time with remote work. Everybody’s situation is completely unique and challenging in its own way, which is why we should think before judging other people’s reactions or coping mechanisms. Equally, we should think before criticising ourselves, too.
So let’s try something. Let’s accept everything about ourselves right now, exactly as we are. Let’s let go of the idea that we should be ‘exercising more’ or ‘losing weight’ or ‘learning a new skill’ or ‘doing more work’. There is no rulebook on this situation, we have had nothing happen in our lifetimes to prepare us for this. Which is why however you are coping right now, is absolutely fine. If all you’re focused on is getting through each day and muddling through what you need to do, that is more than ok.
As I mentioned last week, this is not an ‘opportunity’ or a ‘break’ for anyone other than the extremely privileged. So whatever you’re feeling and doing, and however you’re spending your time, you’re doing just fine. Let’s focus on accepting ourselves completely, and in whatever state we are currently in.
Compassion is the most important human trait in the world right now – let’s start extending that compassion to ourselves.
Example: The main part of my life I've been practicing this self-acceptance with is in my relationship with my body. As someone who is into fitness, I think about my body, working out and nutrition quite a lot. But as the whole lockdown situation has evolved, I've made the conscious effort to let it go. For some people, fitness is a way of relieving stress and might be helpful during the current circumstances. For me, this has never really been the case, so I'm letting it go for now to make way for other tasks. I have accepted that my body might change a bit, and realised that I love it anyway. I show my body love through lifting weights and working on my fitness, but now I am simply showing it love in other ways; by taking pictures of it, looking after my skin, enjoying good homemade food and baking. Really stripping things back and cutting down on what worries we impose on ourselves is so worthwhile, and I have found a huge part of my mind has been freed by simply choosing to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and accepting my body as it is in this moment for the time being. There are more pressing issues at hand, and I can now use this free mental space to deal with the things I need to deal with right now.
(Of course, simply ‘choosing’ to accept your body is not this easy for everyone, this is just an example of one aspect of myself through which I have managed to apply this self-compassion and acceptance.)