The practice of Radical self acceptance.

….and then I realised, first, I must love myself, as I am…So, I called back all the lost children that were me, that I had sent away…and I told them they were home. It was like heaven…

Resistance to unpleasant emotions is such a natural response for all of us. Denial of what is going on has been the only way for most of us to survive trauma. I don’t judge that response in myself or others. It is inevitable in the face of all the emotional pain and grief we suffer throughout our lives, but I am starting to realise that the negative effects self-denial has had on my life, far out weigh the temporary relief it seems to offer at the time.

Over the last month, I have been exploring the many selves with-in us all. The false self, the shadow self and the true self (click this link to read these articles). Over this fascinating journey, I have discovered the power that reintegration of these selves has on my ability to thrive rather than just survive. I have found this process to be both wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Wonderful because of the sense of wholeness I feel once I have reintegrated another” lost son” back into the family and terrifying as I rediscover the repressed emotional pain of another aspect of self I have locked in the dark basement of my subconscious.

I am learning that every time I reject and “stuff down” another aspect of myself because of the pain it is causing me, I am also splitting myself into another lost fragment. This results in a detachment and alienation from self that leads to detachment and alienation from others. The inner world will always become mirrored by the other world. If I can’t be with myself, I won’t be able to be with others. This has been one of my big life lessons.

As a male, with significant detachment issues from a very young age, I have struggled to be emotionally honest with myself and others. I have discovered a level of self that has been securely locked away from the world. This inner child is being “protected” from rejection with layers of denial and false personas. While this has been an effective method to avoid having to feel unworthy of love, it is also a very lonely place to be in the world. I maybe “safe” in one sense but really it is the safety of imprisonment.

One method of mindfulness practice that I have found very effective in opening the prison, is radical self-acceptance. When I start to feel inner resistance to an emotion or situation, I simply allow two words to sink into my being, it is. I have found that this mantra contains the power to radically accept reality. All regrets, shame and fear melts away as this powerful truth fills my mind with reassurance. For example, I may feel an unpleasant emotion rise up from my emotional self like shame. Instead of resisting this emotion by becoming busy or eating, or what ever, I will stop and simply accept it with the words… it is. What a simple truth! This feeling of shame exists, that’s it. Why should I resist reality? In that moment of radical acceptance, I allow the aspect of myself feeling the shame to exist and be present. I sit with it like a compassionate mother comforting a distraught child. Yes, I feel shame right now, yes it hurts, yes, I have regrets from my past, yes that feels painful. Yes, and it is

When I start to feel inner resistance to an emotion or situation, I simply allow two words to sink into my being, it is.

This is radical self-acceptance. Even though this aspect of myself sometimes causes me pain, I will no longer cast it into the outer darkness. As I allow reality to exist, I also allow myself to exist, I allow others in and I start to feel consolation. Radical self-acceptance is simply inner consolation, or another word could be… grace. I allow grace to flow towards myself, compassionate acceptance of my pain, grief, shame, fear, lost-ness, and inability to be what I wish I was. Maybe that is what being human is all about? It is my hope that as I learn to love myself in this way I will then in turn learn to love others as they deserve. It reminds me of the words of Jesus; love others as you love yourself.

If I can not accept myself as I am right now, how can I ever hope to accept and love others? Radical self acceptance is the foundation for compassion. I have seen in myself and others the same harsh judgments we use on others, even more terribly wielded against ourselves. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”. Self hatred is a plague upon us all and serves to only deepen narcissism and hurtful behaviors towards others. The world doesn’t need more self rejection…believe me. It needs more people who can practice radical self acceptance.

It is my desire that my struggles with self-acceptance can encourage you to also take the brave step of accepting reality as it is. Even right now in this moment, stop for a moment and allow the busy world and all the demands to pass you by. Still yourself, allow a quiet to enter your heart and listen to the inner voice. What are the emotions you are possibly avoiding right now? Simply allow them to be. Experience them and be present with them. Then let the mantra, it is sink down through your core into your deepest being. Repeat it as needed, accept all the lost aspects of yourself back into your radical love and acceptance. Call back the lost children within yourself and comfort them with these two words… it is.

Read my article “Do I hate myself a little bit? for more on the shadow self and “Why do I feel like I need to pretend?” for more on the false self.

If this article has got you thinking about your own personal development journey, I am also offering a free 45 minute, online, mentor session. In these sessions I listen to your personal journey and help you to enter into a more compassionate space of self acceptance. These sessions are no obligation and are often powerful transformative processes. Click the link above to book a session or message me.

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