The Paradox of Self-Acceptance

There’s an interesting thing that happens when we begin to speak about, explore, and eventually embody true acceptance of ourselves.

And there’s an interesting paradox that arises when people wonder what self acceptance is like.

Oftentimes I hear from women who want to explore embodiment work that there’s a part of them that is afraid that if they accept themselves, then they will “let themselves go” or “never want to work toward anything again”.

It’s fascinating, because on one level, there is an intense desire to feel comfortable in your skin, at home in yourself, choosing self love and self acceptance above all else.

And then there’s another level- the energetic level that is used to accomplishing things from a place of fear, a place of trying to be good enough, a place of attempting to achieve worthiness. That’s the part that says, “If I’m not working toward something because I need to prove I’m good enough or because I need it to be happy, I won’t do anything at all. I’m so scared of doing nothing that I will do everything I can to NOT accept myself so I’m constantly working toward acceptance and never actually getting there.”

Complicated, no?

When the desire to know what it would be like to fully love and accept yourself clashes with the patterns of proving and striving and achieving, it creates a tension in your systems– your energy, your body, your thoughts, and your emotions. These parts are constantly battling each other so that the very thing you think you want is the very thing you are pushing away.

WEIRD.

So what happens when you DO embody self-acceptance? Does that mean you have to let yourself go, or give up your goals, or stop working?

Notice any parts of you right now that feel like that might be true. Acknowledge them and breathe.

Okay. Let’s dive into the paradox*.

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*I want to be clear- this is a paradox only because so much of our society and the way we are taught to exist in the world doesn’t believe that these two things can exist at the same time. We are taught that happiness and love and fulfillment are commodities that can be bought or things that we earn once we look a certain way / have a certain amount of money / achieve a certain thing. The paradox happens because the majority of our society has accepted that we have to achieve or be different in order to be worthy or loved or to enjoy our lives, and the idea that we can accept exactly where we are right now and be perfectly content with it, while still having goals and dreams, makes no sense and doesn’t feel possible. Even though it completely is!

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What happens when you truly love and accept yourself, as is, right now?

Well, it’s a little different for everyone. But what is pretty universal is that there is a lot less tension. A lot less guilt, shame, embarrassment, and fear. A lot less freezing and hiding and pushing and striving and overextending yourself.

It’s a lot less making goals and approaching them with an “all or nothing” mindset, and a lot more of tuning in to what will light you up and approaching your goals from a place of joy.

When someone fully loves and accepts herself, her external goals may look exactly the same.

But the intention behind the goal and the approach to achieve the goal are often worlds apart.

An example:
A woman wants to lose 40 pounds.

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For the average woman, that is likely for a number of reasons, but in general, her intentions will look something like this:
“I feel uncomfortable in my body. I don’t like the way my clothes fit. I feel self-conscious when I’m out in public. I don’t think I’m attractive and don’t believe anyone finds me attractive. I’ll be happy when I lose 40 pounds. I’ll be a different person once I lose 40 pounds.”

And her approach may be a combination of things, including restrictive diets, intense exercise programs, sticking to the schedule no matter what, weighing herself religiously… as well as basing her sense of worth and well-being on the number on the scale (been there), waiting to go on dates or apply for a promotion until the weight is gone, feeling like a loser or a failure anytime something happens that isn’t part of her “plan”.

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If any of that sounds familiar, believe me, I FEEL you sister. This was me for YEARS. Even when I started down this path of embodiment and self-love, I still was doing a lot of the above. It was what I knew. It was safe and comfortable, even if it didn’t make me happy.

Over time, and a lot of unbinding and releasing and rewiring my energy, my beliefs, my patterns, and my body, I came to understand that there really is another way. I finally GOT, not just intellectually but in my whole being, that when you are coming from a place of self-love, a place of knowing you deserve to feel fulfilled and you are inherently worthy, you actually have so much MORE capacity to dream, to take action, to choose what’s best for you.

So let’s go back to our example:
A woman wants to lose 40 pounds.

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The embodied, self-accepting woman again may have a number of reasons, and it may likely look like this:
“I accept my body as she is, AND I want to feel more energized. I want to feel light and strong and like I can go on any kind of adventure on a moment’s notice. I feel good with how I look, and I know that my happiness is not based on the size of my body. I know that because I love and know who I am on the inside, as I go on this journey to lose 40 pounds, I will simply shine brighter and move better and be even more me in the process.”

And her approach may be something along the lines of choosing to increase her movement practices, maybe by trying something she has always wanted to try (like a dance class), and getting to know which foods make her body happy and committing to eating more of those. She may choose to seek out support from someone who understands her journey and is there to help guide her back to her truth if she starts to slip into old habits and patterns.

She understands that it isn’t about how long it takes, (AND that it isn’t actually about a number on a scale), but about how she feels throughout the process. She looks at her whole system- physical body, mental arena, emotional body, and her energy system- to find an integrative way to support her goals. She feels calm and at ease with her choices, and celebrates the entire process.

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Who do you think is enjoying it more? How do you think each woman feels during the process, and if / when she reaches her goal?

Self-acceptance and living a truly embodied life- that’s the long game. It’s not a quick and dirty fix it system. It’s not the sexy, formulaic approach. It doesn’t allow you to maintain your default coping mechanisms, beliefs, and thoughts. You don’t just do something for a little while and then go back to sleep. It’s something you choose, every day.

And? Over time, it becomes a part of who you are. Over time the patterns of self-hate and pushing away your happiness no longer shove out the love and the joy and the light that have always been within you.

Your goals become naturally aligned with who you are. The mentors and coaches and teachers and friends and jobs and lovers you choose are exactly who you need in the moment. You learn discernment with ease and understand what your boundaries are, and more importantly, how to maintain them. You trust in the timing of your life, and open up to receive way more.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you accepted yourself, if you’ve ever feared that nothing would change if you chose to love yourself instead of beat yourself up, if you actually let go of trying to control everything (including yourself) let’s have a conversation about what might be possible for you.

There IS another way. And it’s YOUR way.

And if you’re ready to find out what YOUR way looks and feels like? Let’s talk. Book a consultation below and we can discuss creating this for you!