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Self-Acceptance is Not Making Adjustments

This morning I was getting ready for a day of working from home. I noticed this anxious focusing on the pants I was going to put on – to stay at home in. The dialogue went like this: “These will collect lint. I need different ones.” Then the focusing went to my hair, again to stay at home in, “I should at least make my hair look the way it usually does so I feel better.” Then achievements, “I need to get more done like maybe write an article.” Then it moved to the things I wanted to do in the house. The list went on so long it felt slightly miserable.

Then I remembered a live stream I listened to just a day ago that had brought me peace for awhile. The speaker, David Hoffmeister, was saying that if you look at lives like Marilyn Monroe you see that she had everything. Money, fame, sex appeal, admiration, even the President of the United States lusting after her, but it didn’t make her happy.

Think about it. There are lots of people who have so many things but they are still striving for even more.

Then I had the following reminder come into my mind:

The key to self-acceptance is to stop making adjustments that you think will eventually lead to your self-acceptance.

You can workout more, dye your hair teal, dress perfectly, have the right friends and try to be like Marilyn but her message was, “Stop. None of that fulfilled me. The right pants, the right look, the right man, none of it did the trick.”

How many times do you catch yourself saying, “If I stay on my diet, finish the laundry, write a new short story, have a good hair day, forget myself for a little while” or whatever it is, then I will be at peace? Really, have you noticed?

You need to take this idea out of the theoretical. Actually catch yourself in the act of doing it.

It starts like this:

  1. You create this specific thing in your mind that you believe will cause self-acceptance maybe it’s perfection of some sort.
  2. Notice the happiness is somewhere out there later.
  3. Notice that it jumps around from body thoughts to achievement thoughts to having better social contacts to winning races to any number of things – it never ends in how it shifts and adjusts. It basically keeps moving the goal post.
  4. Then notice how you often feel miserable as a result. Never good enough.

When you catch yourself doing this ask, “What if I accepted myself with that flaw instead?” I mean, what if you put on the pants that collect the lint?

What if I accepted myself with my messy hair?

What if I accepted myself at my current level of fitness?

What if I accepted myself with my current situation – I have food but not a million dollars?

What if I accepted the very subtle movings that move me forward ever so gently?

What if I accepted the way my house looks?

What if I accepted my voice?

What if I accepted my current level of achievement?

Over the years, I have had a large variety of different clients. Here are some of the ways I remember them trying to adjust to find self-acceptance:

Having a perfect yard

Having a painted room with no paint mistakes

Winning a triathlon, a marathon, or a championship

Getting the man/woman they are with to stop being abusive

Having a set dollar amount saved in the bank for each child (then it gets higher once it’s reached)

Having better hardwood floors

Having a more peaceful world where they don’t make parking lots out of wooded fields

Not being in school and being in online school instead (school is so stressful!)

Being in school and not being in online school (not enough structure!)

Being the best salesperson on the team every year

Winning a court case that you don’t even care about (it’s just the winning!)

Quitting a job after one day of trying it (finds numerous reasons why it didn’t work)

Not changing your job when the job sucks (it could be worse!)

Working out every day (if I worked out every day, I’d be happy with myself)

Being on The Ellen Show (having achieved what I have isn’t enough, I have to be on national TV)

Not having any school grade less than 96% (because a regular A and B isn’t good enough)

It’s at this point in the debate when someone usually says to me, “But if you just accept everything and don’t make goals, you won’t get anything done.” Yet the reverse has been found to be true. When children grow up in controlled environments where the expectations are too high, they often end up crashing, rebelling, or just giving up and not even trying. They feel defeated before they even start so why start and set themselves up for disappointment?

Can you see this is what we do to ourselves by not accepting ourselves right now, as is?

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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