The Great Search for Self-Acceptance: How do You Find Yourself?

Photo by jae bano on Unsplash

So, I guess when I wrote that I would be back with this post “next week” in my previous post I actually meant next month… Here I am, finally! Apologies for the wait. March was a whirlwind and I found myself without a moment to think, let alone to sit and write about what I was thinking. Finally, here I am. 🙂 

What I wanted to share is this: to accept yourself is a noble pursuit, but the how of it is what takes the most effort to discover. Throughout my life, I had experienced full acceptance and felt joy during those times, like all the versions of myself were aligned on the same page in those moments. But those feelings were fleeting and I wanted them to be permanent. So I decided to start taking stock of the contributing factors; collected below are the main sources that led me to more moments of self-acceptance.

Examine Shortcomings
I often take out my shortcomings, examine them, work them out, improve upon them. I can do this and still love myself. I adjust my mindset to aim for a healthier version of myself, in whatever capacity that may be. For example, I can take my anxious mind and discover ways to calm it. I can learn to refrain from belittling myself for being anxious. I can learn to actively change the channel from that disdainful voice of self-judgment to one that reminds me that being perfect is not the goal; being happy, healthy, and whole is the goal. Another example is noticing when I have been a jerk to someone and apologizing for it. On my own I process what and where things went wrong so that I can be a better person next time (much of this practice stems from when my four-year-old has a meltdown :), but I have found that the most important part of this process is examining and then apologizing for the specific ways I contributed to the problem.

When living a healthy, happy, and whole life is the goal then we do not have to be without flaws to do that. Berating ourselves for being ourselves changes nothing.

Respect Time
Acknowledging that it takes time to exist as a human being has been paramount to ordering my days in an authentic way. It takes time to be yourself. If you need an hour to get up in the morning then adjust your alarm accordingly. If you need to take 30 minutes to go for a walk each day, place it on your schedule as a priority and make it happen. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, do not envy someone else for seemingly having “more time” to do something you wish that you too could be doing. As Annie Dilliard wrote: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.”

Taking Dillard’s note a step further, we can give ourselves the opportunity to connect with our soul within a scheduled day. Experiencing the joy of connection does not have to only stem from extravagant moments of self-care or vacations (“soul-searches,” if you will). Warren Zevon gets to the heart of this in his urge for us to “enjoy every sandwich.”  How simple a sandwich is; eating lunch can be so mundane and unnoticeable. Or, it can be a moment that is noticed and that matters every day. Eating your favorite sandwich with intentionality helps you honor both the present moment and the person you are being within that moment.

Hear (and Notice!) Thoughts
Most importantly, we have to take the time to hear ourselves think. We can find tremendous support and healing through taking time away from sticking our noses into other things, whether that be audio, visual, or even talking with other people. I noticed that anything which influences my mind blocks the opportunity for me to formulate an original thought and opinion for myself. I love to talk to people, watch TV, read books, and listen to podcasts, but I have to manage these interactions because they can all pour new thoughts into my mind. It is vital for me to fully digest what I heard and explore my own thoughts and feelings on the topic presented. In a nutshell, I have to give myself time and space to contemplate the subject before moving on to the next thing.

I notice that no matter how much sleep I have, if I have not let my mind wander aimlessly, I feel overwrought and frazzled. This came to a head for me last summer when social media posts were entirely ill-informed and overly political, and where no one could say a single kind thing without demoralizing someone else. Social media was already deemed “bad for you” before the summer of 2020; by then it turned into hell on earth. Before I got off completely, I had not formed an original thought for myself in months due to me constantly consuming other people’s opinions. And as an opinionated person myself, this was a problem for me. And I missed myself. I missed talking to myself and thinking with myself and dreaming of a future for myself.  If what Wilde suggests is true and we are in a lifelong romance with ourselves, then taking time to be alone is of utmost importance. Introverted or not, we all need time and space to think.

These are some small, but mighty, steps I take in the course and scope of my day to help myself be the best version of myself. I have discovered some fun and interesting facts about myself along the way. It’s as if The Great Search for Self-Acceptance is actually the best treasure hunt there ever was.

Cheers to another day with your ever-evolving self, friends!

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