I did something really stupid today. I was having a conversation with someone, trying to express my feelings (which we all know I pretty much suck at), when I apologized for being needy, for saying stupid stuff, and for asking for what I needed. I didn’t realize how ridiculously self-destructive that whole shit-sentence was until I replayed it over in my head later (I do that, replay pretty much every conversation I have in my head at later times…I know how obnoxious that is, but I can’t help it. Sorry.) . Can you believe that? Apparently I’m so full of hatred for myself these days that I actually apologized for sharing my truth and expressing what I needed. Ick. :-(
You wanna know what I really need? To learn to accept myself as I am, and give myself a damn break. When you Google accepting yourself, there’s a ton of New Age-type, hippie stuff going on…but when you wade through the fluff, there’s some good stuff to be found, like this article :
Therapists Spill: 12 Ways to Accept Yourself
By MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.
For many people self-acceptance is hard to come by on a good day. It’s tenuous, a glass with tiny cracks, at best. On a bad day, when you’ve made a mistake or two, don’t like how you look or feel absolutely miserable, your self-acceptance is in shards.
Fortunately, self-acceptance is something we can nurture. Look at it as a skill that you can practice versus an innate trait that you either have or don’t.
Below, clinicians reveal 12 ways we can cultivate self-acceptance.
1. Set an intention.
“Self-acceptance begins with intention,” according to psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber, MA. “It is vital that we set an intention for ourselves that we are willing to shift paradigms from a world of blame, doubt and shame to a world of allowance, tolerance, acceptance and trust,” he said.
2. Celebrate your strengths.
“We are much better collectors of our shortcomings than our strengths,” according to Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a psychologist in Pasadena, California. Psychologist John Duffy, PsyD, agrees. “[Many people] fail to see their strengths and cling to antique scripts they carry about their lack of worth,” he said.
Duffy helps his clients hone in on their strengths and abilities by writing them down. If you’re having a tough time coming up with your list, name one strength each day, he said.
Howes suggested making a similar list: “Make a list of all the hardships you’ve overcome, all the goals you’ve accomplished, all the connections you’ve made, and all the lives you’ve touched for the better. Keep it close by, review it frequently, and add to it often.”
3. Consider the people around you.
What kinds of people do you surround yourself with? Sumber suggested asking yourself these questions about the people in your life:
Who speaks negatively to me? Who reinforces negative self talk? Why do I allow such people to hurt me? Are they just doing my own dirty work because I’m not willing to choose a different reality?
4.Create a support system.
Distance yourself from people who bring you down, said Joyce Marter, LCPC, a psychotherapist and owner of Urban Balance, LLC. Instead, “Surround yourself with people who accept you and believe in you,” she said.
5. Forgive yourself.
Past regrets can prevent us from practicing self-acceptance. Forgive yourself, and move on. “Whether it’s about something you’ve done or a personality quirk that resulted in a social faux pas, it’s important to learn from the mistake, make efforts to grow, and accept that you can’t change the past,” Howes said.
When the tinges of remorse resurface, remember these words, he said: “I made the best decision with information I had at the time.” “The behavior or decision might not seem correct in hindsight, but at the time it seemed like the best choice,” Howes added.
6. Shush your inner critic.
Many people equate their inner critic with a voice of reason. They think their inner critic is simply speaking the truth. But if you wouldn’t say it to a loved one, it’s not honesty or sincerity. It’s unwarranted — and harsh — judgment.
To quiet your inner critic, Marter suggested choosing a realistic mantra. “I believe in the power of mantra and encourage clients to select a mantra that is normalizing, calming and encouraging during times when the inner critic rears its ugly head,” she said. For example, you could use: “I am only human, I am doing the best that I can and that is all I can do,” she said.
As Marter said, “Our mistakes and our imperfections are not bad or wrong or failures–they are the fingerprints of humanity and opportunities for learning, healing and growth.”
7. Grieve the loss of unrealized dreams.
“Many of our problems with self-acceptance come from our inability to reconcile who we are as compared with the idealized dreams of our youth,” Howes said. Maybe you dreamed about becoming an Olympic athlete or a multi-millionaire or staying married forever or having a big family, he said. Whatever your dreams or goals, mourn that they didn’t come to pass, he said. Then “get back to being the best you possible.”
8. Perform charitable acts.
“When you sacrificially give to others, you see how your deeds are a positive influence on other lives. It becomes more and more difficult to maintain the idea that you are no good when you see how your deeds help other people,” Howes said.
9. Realize that acceptance is not resignation.
Marter described acceptance as letting go of the past and the things we cannot control. This way, “you can focus your energy on that which you can [control], which is empowering,” she said. In fact, for some people accepting that they have a problem is the first step to making positive changes, she said.
10. Speak to your highest self.
Marter suggested readers try the following activity that includes imagining and interacting with your highest or best self.
I often ask my clients to visualize their highest and best self that lies deep within them. This process of visualizing a separation or detachment from the current [or] suffering self often helps clients tap into the wisdom that already lies within them — their highest self — to promote healing.
This exercise teaches clients how to be their own best parent and demonstrate empathy, compassion and love towards the self. I advise clients to take a few minutes to meditate and practice this visualization whenever they are in crisis [or] need some direction or some self-soothing.
11. Be kind to yourself.
Many people are hesitant to show even a shred of self-kindness because they see it as selfish or undeserved. But the key to self-compassion is “to understand that weakness and frailty are part of the human experience,” according to Deborah Serani, PsyD, a psychologist and author of Living with Depression. “Coming to accept who you are involves loving yourself because of your flaws, not in spite of them,” she said. You’ll find more on practicing self-compassion here and here.
12. Fake it ‘til you make it.
If you’re unconvinced that you’re a worthy person, keep the faith and keep at it. Keep practicing self-compassion along with the other suggestions. “Most of us do not have direct communication from our deity of choice, yet we take the leap and trust that our God is true and real. The same goes for our self-acceptance. I first must think and do before I know,” Sumber said.
When I started reading this, I was thinking it was pretty much like every other list (and therefore useless), with nothing of value for me. But I felt compelled to keep reading…and then shit got real. Consider the people around you? Yikes. Most of the people around me only know me when they want something,…which sucks. Very few people seem to enjoy the pleasure of my company, which leaves me wondering if I’m such a miserable arse that nobody wants to be with me! I’ve noticed that I spend A LOT of time listening to the troubles of other people, but rarely does anybody ask me about mine. I have one friend (she reads this, so she will know who she is! I love her! ;-) ) who says that she doesn’t ask about me because she figures that if I have something to share, I will just say it. I bet that approach and philosophy works great for most peeps, but for someone like me who struggles with self-worth and rarely believes that anyone gives a shit about her, that approach is challenging. I’m not usually brave enough to share my innermost self, and I take my cues that it’s okay and safe to proceed when people ask me questions. So, if they don’t ask, I say nothing…and the cycle goes around and around.
Create a support system? How? I believe that I’ve got this one cracked at work, but….not at home. At work, I have the world’s most wonderful boss whom I love with all my heart – she treats me wonderfully, supports me, and legit wants me to do well. I’ve not had that many times in my career, so I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate her. My secretary is dynamite as well, she’s helpful, supportive, and would do anything with me and for me – I loooooove working with her!! She’s fab!!!!! But, at home…it’s just me. I can’t go and visit my parents without enduring my mother’s endless criticism of my appearance and everything I do, so I generally try to spare myself that misery. It’s maddening….and probably explains why things are so rough for me inside my head. I have a few people in my life who I think believe in me and are my personal cheerleaders, but the team is in dire need of some new members. How do you make that happen???
The next three bowled me over – forgive yourself, shush your inner critic, and grieve the loss of unrealized dreams. Hmm. I can’t ever forgive myself for some of the mistakes that I’ve made, and I don’t get why. My mistakes have hurt mostly me (with a few others tossed in along the way for collateral damage), so it should be easy to forgive myself…but I don’t. I can’t. And I don’t know why. My inner critic had a bloody megaphone that she yells into at ALL TIMES, and let me tell you, that bitch’s voice is LOUD. It never ends. I’ve always marveled at my ability to manage a career that requires me to be the sage on the stage so much of the time, always enduring the scrutiny of a lot of people, when all I hear a constant stream of hateful words in my head every moment of the day. It’s bloody exhausting.
Now, tell me…how do you grieve the loss of unrealized dreams? That’s what’s I need to do. There are so many things that I’ve wanted to do with my life, but they just didn’t happen – generally not due to lack of effort, but rather circumstance. There are many things that have left me feeling disappointed, but there are so many things that have gone well in my life, and I’m a very lucky girl. I have, however, had difficulties letting go of a few things that I’ve always wanted – and instead of always feeling like a failure, or like I’ve let everyone else down, I need to somehow grieve the passing of my dream, let it go, and move the hell on. I bloody love this idea, it’s brilliant – how to put it into practice??!
Are you watching the reality series “True Tori” on Lifetime? Cameras have been following Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott following his stint in a rehab facility after he cheated on her last fall. I’m surprised that I’m watching it, actually – this is so not my usual cup of tea, but I came across the first episode in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, and have been compelled to watch ever since. I was a huge fan of Beverly Hills, 90210 – I was still wearing my Donna Martin Graduates shirt a couple of years ago, I still watch the reruns whenever I can find them on TV, and many a life decision of mine has been made by thinking What Would Kelly Taylor do? I still love the fashion of that show (and I still want to wear flowery baby doll dresses with my Doc Martens every day of my life), and the music was pretty damn great as well. Tori’s Donna wasn’t my favorite character, but her wedding to David Silver still brings me to tears. Anyway, over the years, I have kept up with Tori’s life, and while I haven’t watched them, I’ve been aware of the series of reality shows that she and Dean have made following their marriage. I’ve always felt leery about those kinds of programs, since people who go on Tv and tout how happy they are and how perfect their marriage is seem to be hollering, “Look how great our life is!! Look how much yours sucks !!” to me…and I’m uncomfortable with that. (Sidebar: I call it my Facebook theory – if you have to brag about your shit on Facebook, then your shit probably isn’t all that and probably stinks a bit!) Anyway, I know that she and Dean have four small children, and careers that are very much intertwined -until all hell broke loose and he bonked some broad in Toronto. (There’s another quandary – why do men choose to bonk women who can’t keep their damn mouths shut and be discrete? Stupid.) Now, they have cameras on them filming them at home as they try to adjust to Dean being out of rehab, and they attempt to rebuild their family. This is where things are getting really interesting – Tori is hurting so badly and needs to express it, but every time she does, Dean falls apart. He was suicidal at one point, and she’s scared that her feelings are going to literally kill him. So, she holds it all in…until she’s an absolute mess. It’s painful to watch, truth be told…I never would want to see anyone suffering and hurting, and I can understand the pain she’s feeling. I, too, feel completely alone a lot of the time, and pissed off with the world for ignoring me – I get it. Whatever happens, I wish them well….and I remind the rest of you: don’t brag about your happy relationship – you’re only dooming yourself to misery!!! Be happy and peaceful about it..it’ll mean more that way.