Radical self-acceptance – what is it?
Self-acceptance is the embracing of our own individual qualities and attributes. Yes, you may not like the fact that you are not as tall as you would like to be or can’t read a book as fast as your friends, but self-acceptance means you accept these aspects about yourself and, what’s more, you learn to appreciate them. Needless to say, it is incredibly freeing and liberating.
Radical self-acceptance takes it up a notch. Self-acceptance does not mean giving up. On the contrary, it is a type of surrender that is actually a form of victory. When we accept the things we cannot change, we discover a kind of self-empowerment we didn’t even know we had.
It leads to healing within because it dissolves inner conflicts, which are the source of so much misery inside us. It brings the head and heart into balance and enables us to experience true inner peace.
Change Your Perspective
Imagine a comet is making its way towards the Earth, and we’re informed we have 24 hours before all life is wiped out. What do you do?
Do you scream, cry, and despair? Do you fall into a state of anxiety and fear? Do you enter a state of denial?
These are reactions that come naturally to us when we do not want to accept the inevitable. They are human reactions. But just because they are natural reactions, it doesn’t mean we have to choose them over a different type of response.
It’s at this point where, if we choose to, we can step outside of ourselves and view things from a different perspective.
A comet’s coming, and we have 24 hours left. OK. What can I do about it? Nothing. There are still 24 hours, though. What shall I do with the time I have left?”
This way of thinking is surrendering to the situation. You can’t stop the comet coming, you can’t stop life on Earth being wiped out. But what you can do is decide what to do with the time that is left.
So you may choose those last 24 hours to be the best 24 hours you ever had. To spend it with loved ones, to finally tell that special someone how you feel, to treat yourself, to pamper yourself, to tick off as many things on your life bucket list as you can with the time you have. You’ll notice the anxiety slip away from you, for you have accepted what is, and instead, you will take action only on what is in your power.
This is an example of radical self-acceptance.
How Can I Practice Radical Self-Acceptance?
In an everyday scenario, you’re probably not going to be dealing with a situation as extreme as the one above, but radical self-acceptance can be applied to many situations – the current pandemic is one of them. So how can you practice it?
Below are 4 tips for how you can ease yourself into this way of thinking.
1. Step outside of yourself
Remember that every setback is an opportunity. It’s difficult to see it when you’re actually in the situation, especially if you are consumed with emotions. But if you can take a moment to breathe and view things as if you were on the outside looking in, you can tell yourself that the challenge and obstacle you face is merely a learning curve and a step towards what you hope to achieve.
You can have some internal monologue where you remind yourself not to be too hard on yourself.
Related article: Why It’s OK to Just Exist Right Now – Lowering Expectations
2. Try not to judge yourself or others
The more you practice empathy over judgment, the easier it becomes to understand radical self-acceptance. Judgment is a part of human nature, but as we evolve as a species, we gravitate more towards empathy and away from judgment.
Judgment is essential as it enables us to understand the difference between right and wrong and helps us function. Still, at the same time, when the experience becomes out of hand, it is incredibly restrictive on our freedoms and individuality.
3. Look to Empathy
Empathy, the ability to understand others and put ourselves in their shoes, helps us realize that everyone is learning at different rates; everyone is an individual and, therefore, everyone has their own unique situation. When we judge others by our own standards, we block ourselves from harnessing deep wisdom that exists within us all. Empathy helps to unlock this wisdom.
We should also try not to judge ourselves too harshly, either. As we are all flawed beings, and the point is not to condemn ourselves for it but to understand ourselves and integrate all sides of ourselves as one.
4. Remember The Bigger Picture
In the grand scheme of the universe, we are here for a short time, and everything is over in the blink of an eye. While we’re on this planet, it becomes difficult to see the bigger picture because we are so caught up in life and an array of powerful emotions. However, certain practices can help remind us of the bigger picture when we find ourselves being critical or ourselves or others.
Meditation and walking are both beautiful ways to remind ourselves of what truly matters. We can get very caught up in the little things, but at the time we’re caught up, we don’t realize how little they actually are! Another good practice is to pull out from your tunnel vision on your own life, remembering that, quite often, someone else may be struggling more than you are.
Focusing on helping others and being of service can really help you gain perspective on what’s going on with you. All of these practices can center our internal energies, so we can view things from a fresh lens.
Let’s Get Radical!
Radical self-acceptance does not come overnight. It takes practice. It is not easy to surrender oneself to a situation or aspect of character because it means letting go, and letting go is never easy. Surrender as a form of victory involves surrendering the ego to the higher authority of the soul.
This is something that takes practice and involves a spiritual journey that can be challenging. But the reward that comes with radical self-acceptance is priceless and well worth it. There is no higher victory than that of conquering yourself.