The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
How does lack of self acceptance show itself? Tara Brach author, therapist and promoter of Radical Acceptance lists the following strategies that we use to compensate for a lack of self acceptance
- We embark on one self-improvement project after another. Striving to meet standards of health, career, psychological and relationship wellbeing. All worth while pursuits unless driven by a underlying feeling of ‘not good enough’.
- Holding back and playing safe. Avoiding risky situations, new careers, relationships and experiences.
- Withdrawing from our experience of the present moment. Pulling away from experience by telling ourselves stories of what happened and why it happened rather than being with experience as it is.
- We keep busy. Filling our time with activity at work and at home so we don’t have to be with the discomfort of self-aversion.
- Becoming our own worst critics. Running a constant condemnatory commentary in our minds. Reminding ourselves of our flaws and how everyone else is doing so much better than we are.
- Focussing on other peoples faults. Dwelling on other peoples faults and failures stops us from dwelling on our own. It also allows us to project our deficiencies out onto other people.
I recognise that I’ve used several of these strategies in the past. Imagine for a moment living life without having to use those strategies, being deeply comfortable in your own skin. Sound good?
How do we make a start? If you recognise these qualities in yourself there’s a strong possiblity that they have been ground in over many years.
I used to think that if I could just get the one limiting belief/memory sorted out then I would be completely fixed in a ‘Road to Damascus’ experience. Now I suspect its going to take a lot of patient disentangling. Be prepared for a lot of disentangling approaches in this series of articles.
I decided to start with a global approach to address some of the beliefs that I may have had about self acceptance and whether it is right for me.
One way of looking at this is that I was pursuing the psychological reversals that would stop me adopting self acceptance. What limiting beliefs stood between me and self acceptance?
I broke the reversals into the following categories
- Do I want to accept myself?
- Is is possible for me to accept myself?
- Am I capable of accepting myself.?
- Do I deserve to accept myself?
- Should I accept myself?
I used the following format for assessing and exploring these beliefs
First I just said out loud the belief statement and scaled it from 0 (false) to 10 (true).
I don’t want to accept myself (score)
Then I phrased it as a sentence completion, for example:
I don’t want to accept myself because …
I’ll get too big for my boots (score)
Completing the sentence with whatever came to mind. Each statement becomes a tappable issue. If it’s another belief you can tap directly on it. If it’s a memory then you can use the movie technique to neutralise it.
Here’s the full list. Try these out yourself, adopt an attitude of curiosity. Remember there really is nothing wrong with you.
- I don’t want to accept myself __
- It’s not possible for me to accept myself __
- I can’t accept myself __
- I don’t deserve to accept myself __
- I shouldn’t accept myself __
Persistent tapping on these issues should start to soften the idea that non-acceptance is our natural state.
If you live in the Newcastle area you might be interested to know that the next two meetings of the EFT Café will be exploring these approaches to boosting self acceptance.