“Slowly I’m learning that the way I am in each moment, is exactly the way I’m supposed to be in that moment. That I’m okay, no matter what. And in that acceptance I’m opening my heart for you as well, just the way you are. Welcoming you as you are. So that we can finally truly meet.”
I wrote that recently, after an evening of meditation and sharing I facilitated for women. It seems an obvious thing, to accept yourself the way you are. To love yourself. I read and hear it often these days as the solution to all, as THE thing to do to feel self-confident.
But, as is often the case with these common wisdoms: easier said than done.
My slow path to self-acceptence could be summarized in one word: YES.
I didn’t know it at the time, but now, looking back, it’s all these different practices, smaller and bigger ways, I learned to say yes to the experiences I’m having right now. I learned to say yes to the feelings I’m experiencing in this moment, the thoughts that are swirling in my head, the life conditions I’m having to deal with at the moment, to me just the way I am right now. Saying yes to life.
I write that down as if it’s all learned and done. But it isn’t. I think it will never be. It’s a lifetime commitment of paying attention and gently saying yes again and again and again. A daily practice of forgetting, failing, remembering and succeeding. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s absolutely not. Sometimes I’m loving it, sometimes I’m so god damn frustrated with it all.
A few practices that help me:
- Mindfulness meditation. Noticing my breath, the sensations in my body, the emotions and thoughts passing by while sitting or walking in silence. Sharpening and training my capacity for noticing what is going on in me moment by moment. Here is a guided meditation by Jon Kabatt-Zinn to get you started.
- Yes meditation. Saying ‘yes’ to any physical sensation, emotion or thought I’m having. And if I cannot accept the sensation, emotion or thought, then saying ‘yes’ to that resistance, to that ‘no’. Listen to an in depth talk on this practice by Tara Brach: The Freedom of Yes.
- RAIN: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture or Natural loving awareness. This practice, also by Tara Brach, is explained in in this article.
- Daring to be vulnerable, whenever I feel safe enough. Sharing what is really going on, what I’m really struggling with, or what I’m feeling, with a friend, a family member or even a colleague actually makes me feel more alive, more energetic because I’m more connected with myself and the other instead of shielding off myself and my feelings/experiences from the outer world and minimalize those feelings/experiences to myself. Concretely: I’ve started sharing my doubts and questions about my career at the moment instead of saying that all is fine. That felt energizing funny enough. And people start giving me contacts that might help me find a job somewhere I’d like. Or at least someone to talk to in a field I’m interested in to sense whether I’d really be interested in that kind of work or not.
- Trying out new things, that are somewhat out of my comfortzone, by taking little steps. So I try them out first in a save environment where I have more chances to have a positive experience with them or kind reactions before trying it out in more challenging environments. Slowly building my self-confidence in that way and if I fail, making sure I fall softly. 😉
- Looking at myself with eyes of compassion. This is for those who dare. Inspired by teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh. Standing in front of a mirror, looking in my own eyes with kindness. Whatever feelings, thoughts and emotions pass by, simply embracing them, allowing them to be there, looking at myself with eyes of kindness/compassion whatever I’m feeling. Even when crying.
- Practicing meditation with others, sharing and exchanging about the ups and downs of these kinds of meditation and self-acceptance practices with others. This helps me to know others go through similar struggles, I’m not alone. I also learn from others and the way they deal with obstacles and difficulties on this journey.
- Dancing, as if no-one is watching me! Singing, as if no-one is hearing me!
- Being in nature, feeling carried and supported by the earth. Feeling my body on the earth body.
I could go on a while with all kinds of ‘yes’ practices. But I think you get the gist of it. And if you like, I’d love to read your practices that slowly teach you that you are okay the way you are.