Self-Love = Radical Self-Acceptance

Forget you?

How could I!?

The funny part is that we often "forget ourselves" for stretches at a time.

Compartmentalization is a fine survival skill, like when we need to postpone dealing with an emotional issue for later on, when we have time. The danger is that we can get so used to suppressing our emotions, and pretending to be something other than what we are, that we lose touch with our own genuine emotions, needs and desires.

It's like wearing uncomfortable shoes: We only realize how uncomfortable we've been when we get home and kick them off, and then... AHHHHH! Oh! What a relief!

Thing is, we forget what it's like to be really comfortable. By pushing our feet into too-tight shoes, we've betrayed our own true form, at times even creating a lasting deformation of the foot. We've traded the illusion of glamour -- with its whiff of freedom and dynamism -- for actual freedom of movement.

When we pretend to be something other than what we are, not only do we lose touch with our own genuine emotions, needs and desires, but we also lose our connection with our own true magnificence and joy.

Been there, done that!

It's no bargain, trading in true magnificence, joy and abundance for a cheap facsimile of those things, yet that is exactly what we do when we decide that we are not good enough as we are, and need to be more like someone else, or more like what someone else expects of us.

Self-love gently leads us back to an acceptance of our own true nature.

Thing is, many of us discover self-love in our middle years, when we may already have accumulated a few dents and dings on our surfaces, some skeletons in our closets, and perhaps a few disappointments and regrets in our hearts. Radical Self-Acceptance is that much greater of a challenge and a victory to love ourselves, exactly as we are, and exactly where we are on our path of life - dents, dings, disappointments, and all.

Our culture feeds us with images of synthetic perfection and canned happiness -- admitting to anything less than that is almost a sacrilege! In my experience that false facade was reinforced at home, where anything less than a show of confidence and happiness was frowned upon, and any "unwanted" or "weak" emotions (such as sadness, hurt, or pain) were shamed and buried.

Radical self-acceptance takes great courage. Radical self-acceptance means bravely facing and accepting what is truly in our hearts. By allowing the full spectrum of our feelings and experiences, we shake loose the burden of suppressed emotion so it can bubble up to the surface and be gone, and so allow the space for real joy to enter.

This is house cleaning on a grand spiritual scale!

Self-love and radical self-acceptance give us the tool to come out whole, healed, and better than new. While we were naturally innocent and shiny as infants, we are now returning to that birthright OF OUR OWN ACCORD, and through our own acts of kindness, forgiveness and acceptance towards the self. That effort is MAGNIFICENT and APPRECIATED beyond our understanding.

Self-Acceptance is the trust that you are not to be forsaken for thinking a "bad" thought, or for being afraid, or weak, or for doing something "less than perfect" or for being anything other than exactly what you are. And if that was your experience as a child -- as it was mine -- then that is simply one more piece of the unique story that is YOU.

Self-acceptance includes EVERYTHING THAT YOU ARE. There is no demand that you look like Cindy Crawford, sound like Katie Couric, teach like Brene Brown, earn like Oprah, compose like Mozart, write like Tolstoy, or be as successful as -- oh, just fill in the blanks of your own expectations of yourself!

Radical self-acceptance is the belief that you are good and perfect, just as you are. Short, tall, young, old, chunky, lanky, droopy, perky, red, green, blue -- your shape and form and color and features are infinitely lovable and charming, just as they are.

Your smile and warm eyes and embracing arms and kind gestures, and birthmarks and crow's feet and sunspots and waistline and bunions -- and all the marks of who you are and the journey you've traveled -- they are all a part of who you are. And you are beautiful.

All of you is beautiful!

The WHOLE of you is beautiful. This includes every mark or scar or broken dream or broken part - they are all beautiful.

Isn't it funny how the broken bits are still part of the whole? It is all precious and infinitely lovable, and, no matter the broken bits, the whole of you is still always whole.

Like a tree with a twisted branch -- that is the evidence of how that tree met the wind and the rain and the soil and the world around it, and that twisted branch is its survival, its strength and its beauty.

Your hesitations, doubts, fears and petty thoughts are part of you, just as your kindness, generosity, compassion, humor and brilliance is also part of who you are: It's all perfect.

Kick off those too-tight shoes -- AHHH!

Certainly, strive to be your best and work towards what you desire and believe in, but...
Give up the fight against yourself.

Stop objecting to who and what you are and start embracing you -- every bit of you -- instead, and watch what happens.

This post first appeared at Thanks to the luminous Matt Kahn for the phrase "radical self-acceptance."