“The attitude of “heroism” is based upon the assumption that we are bad, impure, that we are not worthy, are not ready for spiritual understanding. We must reform ourselves, be different from what we are… We become vegetarians and we become this and that. There are so many things to become. We think our path is spiritual because it is literally against the flow of what we used to be, but it is merely the way of false heroism, and the only one who is heroic in this way is the ego.”
— Chögyam Trungpa
Inspiration can strike at any moment. A surge of creative flow begins to fill your body, moving it into action. The mind attempts an interception with doubt but the speed of the heart has outpaced it yet again. Thoughts tune into the heart’s direction and assist with the play at hand. Dreams turn into reality using the magical wand of creativity and imagination colours the landscape.
As I sit in silent observation I tune into my natural breath. Eyes closed, allowing the breath to breathe my body. A subtle vibration begins at the base of my spine and climbs in pulses up my back, spreading out to the sides. A mantra springs into the mind: I love you. Repeating these words amplify the vibration until it envelops the whole body. I focus the intention on the sensation and I am overcome with tears of healing. This moment of self-acceptance has been deeply received.
You are Whole
Until a few weeks ago I thought I had this self-love thing sorted out. Love myself? Of course I do! I’ve been working on reducing just how awesome I think I am in fact – it’s this ego thing you see… So I can obviously skip the lessons about loving myself. Ho Ho says Santa. Boy was I skipping rocks!
Now back to self-acceptance – I use this term as an antidote to the prescription of cultural labels aimed at making you feel like something is wrong with you. That some aspect of your appearance, personality, or life needs to be improved. Self-acceptance means loving you as you are, completely – even the scary parts that are tempting to ignore. It is with this total acceptance that we are able to release the stories that no longer serve us. No will power or resisting desires necessary. Be and do as you are. You are perfect and whole right now.
How does it make you feel to read this?
I don’t mean that there is no need for effort, attention, and tough love. When situations require such action, self-acceptance ensures that they are taken from a grounded place. It says, “I trust myself to act in a way that is congruent with my entire state of being.”
Growing up in a society that teaches us to love others first, to be selfless, even a martyr, instills the ideas of using will power to deny our desires, discipline to overcome the sins of the flesh, and reason to rewire our animalistic nature. We receive conditional acceptance, based on our behaviours, from those around us. This outer influence is then internalized later in life as judgment, guilt, shame, fear, and hate toward ourselves while we project the disowned aspects of self onto others. We learn that we need some sort of achievement – an action that will make us a “good boy” or “good girl” – in order to feel good about ourselves.
It is easy to think that our society is obsessed with self-love, as I thought I had been as well. The reality of it is that we feel the exact opposite. I advocate for more selfishness. Would the glutton overeat as much if they truly loved their body? The hurts of this world come from a deluded view of what selfishness is. We aimlessly pursue egoic pleasures (which is what the function of the ego is – looking out for your self-interests, although often distorted) without pausing to examine whether these pursuits are beneficial to our entire welbeing. Are they really doing you any good at all?
Here is an excerpt from The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein:
“When we deeply examine what we ordinarily think of as selfishness, we find a sad delusion. I imagine a vast orchard, the trees laden with ripe fruit, and myself sitting in the middle of it, warily guarding a small pile of gnarled apples. True selfishness would not be to guard an even bigger pile even more carefully; it would be to stop worrying about the pile and open up to the abundance around me. Without such examination we remain in Hell forever, thinking that our new five-thousand-square-foot house didn’t make us happy because what we really needed was ten thousand square feet. On the other hand, very often one must acquire a thing first in order to discover that it doesn’t bring happiness after all. That is why even deluded selfishness is potentially a path to liberation.”
Courage is required to take this path of deliberate selfishness. It brings up wounds in others to hear you acting in such a way. It brings up wounds within yourself, as I have experienced. They are the wounds of the past when you were told that you were not good enough to deserve such deep love. They are the wounds we carry with the voices that tell us we are bad and need to improve, be different than we are. Sometimes the path to a healthy diet begins with a tub of ice cream. Presence and attentiveness to our experiences will tell us the effects they have on our being.
Awareness Through Experience
I thought I had known what it meant to completely accept myself. I did not realize the depth (and likely still don’t) until I had met someone who had the courage to show me what it felt like to be accepted completely. My intimate relationships have always been the most incredible mirrors to my present state of being. The people that enter our lives do so to show us aspects of ourselves we are ready to see/hear/feel. It wasn’t until I had a safe space to cast off layers of conditioned behaviours (based on past incidences of conditional approval) that I was able to express myself authentically, have it received with love, and through that reflection of love, accept my Self as I Am. It is from this space of non-judgment that I am able to heal wounds and cast off limiting stories that no longer serve me, as a natural release and not a forced repression.
The conditional approval story is rampant through our society. It is the story that parts of us are “good” and others “bad” which keeps us from experiencing the unconditional acceptance we deeply crave. This is no one’s fault though; a lack of acceptance from another is an expression of their lack within themselves. Our culture is one focused on critical self-improvement and we are bombarded with messages that say we are not perfect and whole. Moving deeper into self-acceptance helps you to reconnect with what is true for you. Can you afford to love and accept yourself as you are? Can you release the story that says you need to improve?
Be kind to yourself. You know what you need.