The Terror of Accepting Yourself

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We give a lot of lip service to self-love, self-care, self-compassion, and self-esteem. And yet, despite all of our “awareness” of the need for these qualities for ourselves, and despite of all of our efforts to offer these qualities to those we care for, it can still be quite rare for us to implement these feelings when it comes to us and who we are.

I won’t lie to you: recently the Universe has been dishing me up a whole lot of experiences that have put me face to face with my utter lack of compassion for myself.

I’ve always been pretty aware that I am very hard on myself, an incurable perfectionist, and basically no matter how “good” I am and how much I achieve: it’s never enough. Never, never, never enough.

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Clearly, on a rational level, I recognize and have for years, that this M.O. isn’t conducive to sustainable happiness and peace.

And yet, like an addiction, it’s what I know and it’s comfortable in a way that scratches some sort of itch inside.

Only when life starts to really slap you around (usually at exactly the same time you consciously tell the Universe you’re ready to get rid of something that isn’t good for you) do you come to a point where the pain of what’s no longer working begins to force you to change.

Relationships, Work, Parenting as Mirrors of Self-Acceptance and Feelings of Worthiness

As you probably know, when it comes to tarot readings, the main topic we always want to look at, before everything else, has to do with love and relationships. I’d say work comes in a very close second, but interpersonal relationships, and most of all romantic relationships, seem to be our biggest “playground” for learning life lessons. Yes?

Our level of self-compassion comes out a lot in our relationships or those we choose to embark upon, even a first or second meeting with someone. If we show ourselves love, care, trust, and respect, then clearly we will seek out a partner who will also extend these qualities to us, because we believe that we deserve them.

Yet, if the person we choose to partner with is unwilling or unable to show us love, care, trust, and respect, and we continue to seek that person out, or go from person to person repeating the same pattern, the question arises: what does that say about our own level of self-care, love, trust and respect?

Or, take work, or parenting, as another example. Someone who has high standards for themselves and feels they must never fail at their work or as a parent or else they aren’t worthy, certainly can’t be an easygoing, truly compassionate or forgiving employee or parent. You can only extend to others what you can give to yourself.

Oftentimes our self-criticism provides us with the illusion that perfection is attainable, “if only” we had done things differently.

It’s not!

As Kristin Neff, an associate professor in human development and culture at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, explains well in the video below:

“One of the reasons we’re so attached to our self-criticism, even though it’s painful, is because it gives us the illusion of control.”

Something I talk about with clients a lot is that we don’t really have much control over our lives, at least as not as much as we’d like to think or believe. Tarot readings perhaps allow us to feel that we have a bit more control, and they certainly allow us to get a more objective or distanced perspective on our challenging situations, but in the end, the truth of the matter is that much of life is simply out of our hands. There are too many variables and so very little we actually have control over.

Have a look:

(I found it at this article: The Five Myths of Self-Compassion)

What I’m ultimately getting at here is that we can all take a moment to be kinder to ourselves. So many of us, especially those of us who are particularly empathic or working in the helping professions, are used to giving to others as a source for our own self-esteem. And yet when it comes to giving the same type of understanding, compassion, non-judgement and acceptance to ourselves, we fall short.

It would be revolutionary, then, to simply say: I am enough. I am enough as I am right now. I am worthy. I am deserving of love, care, trust and respect, and my worth is not dependent on other peoples’ views of me.

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Another idea to come from that video is this quote by American psychologist Carl Rogers, who pioneered the humanistic approach to psychology:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I can change.”

Self-improvement is a widespread concept, but it assumes that there’s something wrong, something that needs to be improved first, before we can be loved, accepted, worthy, etc.

One of the keys to self-compassion is recognizing and believing that we are already worthy, just as we are now.

Here is a quick, 3-card tarot reading I devised that you can try for yourself, if this is a concept that resonates with you:

1: What is blocking or holding me back from me accepting myself just as I am now?

2: What will help me to have more self-compassion and self-acceptance?

3: Message for me now from my Higher Self regarding how to have compassion and acceptance for myself

These concepts can seem frivolous or self-indulgent, but they are not. The reason they are not is because we can only give to others what we give to and have for ourselves. Therefore we should lovingly incorporate cultivating self-compassion and feelings of worthiness as a daily practice, if they aren’t already active and inherently present inside of us. Not only will this allow us to extend these qualities to those we love, but it will allow us to live in a way that brings gratitude, joy, and happiness to our inner and outer world.

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2 comments

  1. I have definitely hit this wall a few times recently. And I think this is so true…“One of the reasons we’re so attached to our self-criticism, even though it’s painful, is because it gives us the illusion of control.” I feel like sometimes I am analyzing myself, my parenting, my everything…constantly and for no reason – huh? So unnecessary. Thanks for the reminders!

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