Accepting Yourself

  


PART FOUR

Accepting Yourself


Introduction

You won’t be important to other people all the time, and that’s why you have to be important to yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. Take care of yourself. Encourage positive self-talk – and become your own support system. Your needs matter, so start meeting them yourself. Don’t rely on others.

Someone once posed the question: ‘If I asked you to name all the things you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?’

This question serves as a reminder that many of us neglect self-love. It’s the result of a common problem within our society: we’re conditioned to care more about what others think of us than what we think of ourselves.

Learning to interact effectively with other people and get them to like you will help you to achieve your goals. But there’s a deeper issue that must be addressed first: Do you like yourself?

We learn to care about how others feel about us but avoid focusing on how we feel about ourselves. This creates a society in which people try to impress others in order to be liked, but deep down they remain unsatisfied because they don’t like themselves.

Admittedly, it’s nice when your talents are recognized, when your work is rewarded, your achievements applauded or your looks appreciated. In these moments we justify our existence. We’re flattered. We feel loved. We feel important. Life feels good.

But we continue on a perpetual mission to please others, to prove our worth. We create our own financial pressures by buying things we don’t need, just so we can impress people who care little for our wellbeing. We change ourselves to fit in, rather than changing the world by being ourselves. We alter our natural beauty to adapt to societal expectations. We strive for endless external goals while neglecting our own spiritual growth.

The power of love and kindness is enormous, and sharing it with others can transform the world. But we must also be kind and loving towards ourselves. Instead of trying to change who you are, start giving yourself permission to feel good. Transform your own world and you’ll hone the skills needed to change the world around you.

If, as happens very often, we don’t treat ourselves with the kindness and respect we deserve, we become insecure, and this affects our confidence, attitude and health. This results in a struggle to show love towards others in the way we want to, which, in turn, affects the expressions of love we receive. People tend to enjoy being around, and fall in love with, those who gracefully accept themselves. For this reason, self-love is a vital element in building strong relationships.

Let’s say a young woman called Kierah lacks self-love and show signs of insecurity in her relationship with her partner, Troy, because she doesn’t feel she’s as pretty as the other girls Troy knows. This makes her behave in ways that, from Troy’s perspective, display a lack of respect and trust, such as going through his phone and reading his private messages. Regardless of whether they genuinely love each other, their relationship suffers because Kierah lacks self-love. Kierah’s behaviour begins to affect Troy’s wellbeing. He then starts to believe that her actions indicate that she doesn’t truly love him, and as a result his own self-esteem is damaged. Their relationship enters a downward spiral and eventually comes to an end.

When you accept yourself as you are, you put emphasis on your own wellbeing and joy – and you’ll be content with the idea that not everyone will accept you as you are. You’ll know your worth, so you won’t care if others don’t recognize it.

In fact, you’ll come to understand why they don’t recognize it: unfortunately, because most people don’t accept themselves, they search for flaws in others.

We’re back where we started: the importance of loving yourself unconditionally.

The ideas that follow in Chapter 1 will enhance your awareness and understanding of exactly why you hold your current beliefs, so you can make meaningful changes to your life. This journey of personal growth will guide you towards self-acceptance and bring joyful experiences into your world.


Appreciate your physical beauty

It’s great to take care of yourself when it comes to physical appearance. We should always feel comfortable in our own skin and looking after your body is a healthy habit. The fact that you have a body at all is incredible. You’re a reflection of the wonder of nature.

Whether you believe in God or not, when the world was created it wasn’t given rules or instructions to help humankind assess what physical beauty is. No – these ideas were formed by us and are today often moderated and manipulated by the mainstream media.

You can only recognize your own beauty if you practise self-love, but I’ll be honest with you: it’s difficult. With media platforms playing on our insecurities, it’s hard not to compare ourselves with others.

We’re bombarded by images showing people with conventionally attractive bodies. We know that most of these images aren’t real, that they’ve been edited or doctored in order to sell an idea, a product or a dream, but we easily forget this and they quickly magnify confidence issues.

We define our physical flaws in relation to what we’re told is the ‘perfect body’. We’re constantly told what beauty looks like and if we don’t question this, these endless messages implant in our heads a subconscious definition of what it means to be beautiful. Anything that doesn’t match the popular definition of beauty appears to us as a flaw and makes us judgemental, always assessing physical beauty against that benchmark. This not only affects how we perceive others, but also how we perceive ourselves.

Through my work I’ve been fortunate enough to engage with many young people. Some have a large online following, while others are just typical teenagers. I got to know one of the well-known figures really well, and was sad to learn that she had acquired a lot of hatred as a result of a sharp increase in popularity. When she posted natural shots of herself on social media, she came under fire for being ugly. The pressure of being judged and ridiculed led her to have cosmetic surgery to maintain her public image.

Don’t let socially constructed ideas about beauty lower your self-esteem. There are no rules to beauty. Accept and love yourself as you are. Embrace your flaws and get comfortable in your own skin. Wear your imperfections like they don’t need a season to be fashionable.

But the hate continued. First, she was judged for not appearing perfect by society’s standards, and then she was judged for trying to fix it. The truth is clear: you simply cannot satisfy everyone.

I also spoke to a young woman who admired this public figure, and she admitted that she often felt insecure due to comparing her physical appearance with her idol’s. She admitted that this even made her act in unloving ways towards other people – she thought nothing of leaving negative remarks about how other public figures looked, just because they weren’t as beautiful as her idol. I pointed out that similar comments were the reason her idol had resorted to surgery.

There’s a culture of negativity swirling around the Internet and even rebounding on those we claim to like. Constant comparison of one human against another drives you into a web of negative and loveless thoughts.

Never allow society’s ideals for physical beauty to devalue your existence. Nearly all those ideals are driven from insecurity and a desire to feel more confident – or to sell something. If you think about it, how many businesses would go out of business if you truly accepted yourself?

The size of your jeans doesn’t define you. The colour and shade of your skin doesn’t define you. That number on the scales doesn’t define you. Those marks on your face don’t define you. Those expectations don’t define you. Those opinions don’t define you.

Your personal beauty isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean you’re less beautiful than any other human being. Perfection is subjective and based entirely on perception. Wear your ‘imperfections’ proudly, because they make you unique. Never stop appreciating your own beauty.

If you feel you’d rather be someone other than yourself, you’re not alone. But if you can recognize and embrace your own unique beauty, you can live with authenticity and be proud of who you are. A person who accepts themself as they are can inspire the world. And that can be you. You could show the world how to reach joy through self-acceptance.


Compare only with yourself

Ignore what everyone else is doing. Your life is not about everyone else; it’s about you. Instead of focusing on their path, pay attention to your own. That’s where your journey is taking place.

Comparison is one of the most common reasons why we experience sadness. I admit that comparison has stolen my joy on many occasions. It got to the stage where I was often embarrassed by my life because it wasn’t as attractive as the lives of those around me. I remember during school I’d rarely invite my friends to my house because I felt embarrassed by its size and condition.

It’s very difficult in this world not to compare yourself with others. During one of my meditations, I came across a memory of a wedding I attended as a child. I joined in some games with the other kids; I must have only been 10 years old. There was a boy who was a few years older than me and he was dictating what game we’d play next. He appeared to be the leader.

There was one instance where we’d all stopped playing and this leader took a good look around at us all to see what we were wearing. He was dressed very smartly in expensive designer-branded clothes.

He was very rude to the other kids about their clothes. I started getting a little anxious as he was coming round to me. My clothes were far from expensive. I didn’t want him to mock me in front of the others and call me poor. This would’ve made me feel embarrassed, particularly as I was already insecure about my home life.

Fortunately for me, there was a distraction and I got away without being called out. However, the fear of being judged for my apparent lack of wealth never left me. It just got worse as I got older. On special days at school when we got to wear what we wanted, kids who didn’t wear branded clothes were often picked on.

I’m not sure how my mum did it, with three of us kids and a minimum-wage job, but she ensured we weren’t ever in this position. Nevertheless, if I was wearing Nike-branded shoes, they’d be the cheapest ones you could buy. I’d keep looking at the kids who were wearing the expensive ones, feeling poor and insignificant. I wanted what they had and these moments reminded me of everything I lacked.

Children can acquire the habit of comparing themselves to others from their parents. Parents want the best for their child, so they might celebrate other kids as a way to motivate their own child to do better. For example, they might say, ‘Saira got straight As in her exams. She’s so bright and has an amazing future ahead of her.’

As harmless as the intention might be, this has the potential to undermine a child’s abilities, especially if they’re not being praised for their achievements, too. If direct comparisons are drawn, then a child can feel degraded and worthless. Lines such as, ‘You should be as smart as Saira,’ are extremely damaging and can leave a child forever feeling that they’re not good enough.

Brand marketing encourages us to draw comparisons all the time. You’re not trendy if it’s not Apple, you’re not successful if it’s not Lamborghini and you’re not fashionable if it’s not something an A-list celebrity wore. These implications are made through cunning marketing strategies devised to prey on fear and low self-esteem.

When we compare, we always look at those who we perceive to be doing better than us; rarely do we look at those who are facing bigger struggles than us. So we never feel grateful for what we do have.

Looking to others for inspiration is fine, but there’s a difference between inspiration and envy.

The rise of social media is proving problematic, too. Younger age groups of children and adults are now becoming heavily absorbed in it, unaware that social media presents rose-tinted versions of life as the truth, and it’s against this fiction that they’re comparing themselves.

I’ve learned that sometimes real couples who are on the brink of giving up on their relationship will post a multitude of loving images online so that no one realizes what they’re going through and judges them. (Not that these couples would be likely to share their arguments and disagreements online instead; no one says halfway through an argument, ‘Hold on, let me take a picture of this.’) People will post remarks saluting how amazing the couple’s relationship is and how they wish they could have the same thing – drawing a comparison. They have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes. We cannot see or understand everything from one shot.

Comparing our lives with others’ that we see online is a waste of energy. People only share photos in which they look attractive, happy and successful; not when they’re tired, scared and lonely.

Similarly, I’ve also learned that some on-screen relationships are manufactured for the purpose of benefiting those involved – for example, to build up their public profiles. That’s why some of these couples appear to have more love towards the camera than towards each other. Despite this, their snapshots can still be sold.

Remember, if someone is sharing images or videos of their wonderful life, you don’t know what they went through to get it. For every triumph, there might have been a bucket load of blood, sweat and tears. Even for some of the public figures who are constantly seen online as being in love, there might be a history of rejection and bullying. For every gorgeous photo, there may be 50 that were deleted.

I’ve come across people who are completely different on social media from who they are in real life. The truth is distorted with filters and inspirational captions to make everything seem better than it is. We all know this, but it’s easy to forget.

It appeals to human nature to turn to social media for instant validation through likes, comments and followers. When we engage with social media, our brain releases dopamine, a hormone that makes us feel good (and is also involved in addiction). Have you considered that you might be comparing your life with those of people who use social media to fill a void in themselves because they’ve forgotten how to practise self-love?

This isn’t about what other people are doing or sharing online. It’s not about what they’re up to in life or how far they’ve gone. It’s about you. Your competition is you. Outdoing yourself is your daily task, and that’s where your comparison should be directed: on the person you were yesterday. If you want to be the greatest version of yourself, you have to keep the focus on your own life and goals.

Competing with others encourages bitterness, not betterment.

No two single journeys are the same. You’re on your own path. We all move through life at our own pace and reach different stages at different times.

Someone else might already be at the most interesting part of their show while you’re still making preparations behind the scenes for yours. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get your opportunity to get on stage and shine.

Look at other people’s lives and applaud their successes. And then continue to pursue your own. Be grateful for what you have right now. And remember how far you’ve come as you continue in the direction of your dreams.


Value your inner beauty

How many times have you heard someone being called beautiful for their mind or for their actions towards others? It’s pretty rare, especially in relation to the number of times people are called beautiful for their physical appearance. People too often label others ‘beautiful’ for superficial reasons while overlooking those who demonstrate inner beauty: unconditional love and kindness. This is because these qualities are, sadly, not interesting to people who pursue superficial successes.

For this reason, it’s very common for people to change the way they appear in order to reflect the ideals of beauty that society has been conditioned to worship – but it’s far less common to change the way you think and act.

If we strive to call more people beautiful because of their kindness, then we’ll become more interested in changing the way we behave. Beauty is so much more than physical appearance.

Experiencing physical attraction towards someone doesn’t mean you should invest your energy in them. Their heart, mind and spirit must be beautiful to you, too. A luxury sports car is useless without an engine, as is someone who is beautiful to you only physically; it will be difficult to move forward in life with them if they don’t share your inner values.

Physical beauty does nothing but satisfy physical needs. Only those with real substance can satisfy the hearts, minds and souls of others. 

Real beauty must be deeper than what meets the eye. It must go beyond the skin. Our bodies can always change but our internal beauty can last a lifetime. This is where your value is and why it’s so important to spend time on building your character. After all, you can buy surgery but you cannot purchase a new personality. You can attract many people with your looks, but you can only hold on to a great person with what you have on the inside.


Celebrate your achievements

We assume success is about being famous, rich and owning expensive things. But if you’ve pulled yourself out of a dark place, that’s a great success in itself. Don’t forget that you’re winning each day you don’t give up and you make it through to the next.

Did you know that you’re achieving great things every day? It probably doesn’t seem like it if you’re always looking ahead to the next thing. Nevertheless, many of the things you’ve achieved today are things you dreamed about in the past. You just don’t notice them in the moment they happen. Or they pass you by too quickly.

Although we shouldn’t get so comfortable with our achievements that we become complacent and stop moving forwards, we should make time to celebrate them. Otherwise you’ll look back on your life and think you didn’t do anything significant. But if this were true, your life would always have remained the same.

We’re too hard on ourselves. We remember everything that we’ve done wrong, but hardly ever think about the things we’ve done right. Does that sound familiar? If it does, it’s because you’re too self-critical.

You have to give yourself a pat on the back every now and then. You’ve done things some people said you couldn’t do. You’ve done things even you thought you couldn’t do. Be proud of yourself. You’ve fought hard to get where you are today. Acknowledging this will bring contentment and raise your vibration.


Respect your uniqueness

Your individuality is a blessing, not a burden. If you try to be like everyone else, your life will be no greater than theirs. By following the crowd, you’ll become a part of it and fail to stand out. By travelling the same road as them, you won’t get the chance to see anything different from what they see.

As young children, we’re regularly reminded that we’re all individuals and should have no shame in being ourselves. We’re encouraged to pursue our wildest dreams! But as we get older, our world of possibility shrinks. People say, ‘Yes, be yourself… but not like that!’ or ‘You can be anything in the world… but this is the right path to take.’

In psychology, the concept of ‘social proof’ suggests that people like to follow the crowd. If everyone else is doing it, you assume it’s the right thing to do. Other people influence your actions more than you realize. For example, if you had to pick between two new bars and you could see that one was packed while the other isn’t, you’d assume that the empty one sucked and the popular one was much better! But just because everyone else is doing it does not mean it’s right. Slavery used to be legal, but now nearly everyone would agree that it’s inhumane, degrading and immoral.

Start to question your actions. Why do you do what you do, and choose what you choose? Are you doing what you really think is right, or are you following the crowd? If you discover your choices are frequently dictated by the views of others, you know you’re relinquishing control over your life. Without control, we panic and end up in low vibrational states, such as anxiety. Ultimately, we end up having no control over how much joy we experience, as we become slaves to other people’s opinions.

Fear and scarcity are commonly used to control society. I’ve known many people who, instead of living the life they’d have chosen, have lived the life they were told to by others in the form of well-meaning guidance and support. And while some people want what’s best for you, they may not understand what’s best for you. They may also make decisions for you based on fear that’s been passed on to them by someone else.

You can listen to the crowd or you can listen to your soul and be on your own stage.



But you shouldn’t feel like you’re living someone else’s beliefs. You shouldn’t feel like you have to meet everyone else’s expectations or live your life a certain way to gain their approval. You shouldn’t feel like you have to shy away from being who you really are, from your uniqueness. Life shouldn’t feel limiting.

The truth is that, either way, you’re going to be judged, whether you live life on your own terms or on other people’s.

Someone once said that a tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep. The tiger isn’t swayed by judgements from animals whose behaviour is dictated by social conditioning. The sheep constantly seeks validation, changes direction and loses its own identity; therefore, it remains lost and ill fated.

Say the word ‘silk’ 10 times out loud.

Now tell me: what do cows drink?

Did you say ‘milk’?

If you did, you’ve fallen into the trap of a psychological technique called priming. I set you up for a particular answer, even though it’s false. Another example: if I told you a story about how I was lost in the middle of nowhere once and had no idea how to get out, and then told you to complete the word ‘st_ck’, you’d be more likely to say ‘stuck’ instead of ‘stick’.

Priming also provides cues to help the memory without realizing the connection. Imagine if you could set people up to think and act in a certain way, without knowing. This is exactly what marketing companies do all the time to increase sales.

Authenticity is rare these days, and many of our actions are at the suggestion of someone else. Without drawing you into paranoia, we’re easily reprogrammed to satisfy the needs of another human being – or, indeed, of a corporation.

Don’t let your individuality get taken away from you, just so you can fit in with the rest of society. Embrace your uniqueness. Are you considered weird?

Awesome! This is only because most people are living inside an imaginary box and you don’t fit in it; and we’re led to believe that when you don’t fit society’s needs, something is wrong with you. Who wants to be bounded by a box that isn’t even there? Not me! Freedom has no constraints.

We can always improve ourselves and grow as individuals. We can step out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. But society often makes us feel like we’re wrong for just being ourselves.

They will call you quiet because you’re perfectly happy in silence.

They will call you weak because you avoid conflict and drama.

They will call you obsessed for being passionate about the things you love.

They will call you rude for not engaging in social pleasantries.

They will call you arrogant for having self-respect.

They will call you boring for not being extrovert.

They will call you wrong for having different beliefs.

They will call you shy when you choose not to interact in small talk.

They will call you weird because you choose not to conform to societal trends.

They will call you fake for trying your best to remain positive.

They will call you a loner because you’re comfortable being on your own.

They will call you lost for not following the same route as others.

They will call you a geek for being a knowledge-seeker.

They will call you ugly for not looking like celebrities. 

They will call you dumb for not being an academic.

They will call you crazy for thinking differently from others.

They will call you cheap for knowing value for money.

They will call you disloyal for distancing yourself from negative people.

Let them call you what they want. You don’t have to play the part they want you to play. Create your own part to play in the world.


Be kind and forgive yourself

Forgive yourself for the bad decisions you’ve made, for the times you lacked belief, for the times you hurt others and yourself. Forgive yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made. What matters most is that you’re willing to move forward with a better mindset.

How often do you find yourself disrespecting your own intelligence when you make a mistake? Do you ever ask yourself discouraging questions like, ‘Why can’t I do this?’ ‘Why am I so ugly?’ or ‘Why do I keep failing?’

That inner voice we have can be very critical. This type of question is often a presupposition, forcing you to accept the ideas in the questions as truth. It’s a highly effective way to put yourself down.

But you must make sure the voice in your head is always kind to you. You’ll encounter many people in life who are willing to put you down, but you shouldn’t be one of them. You cannot expect others to be kind to you if you’re not kind to yourself. You have to change your internal dialogue so it supports you in life. Instead of telling yourself that you’re dumb for making a mistake, tell yourself that you’re only human and you’ll do better next time.

Your words are creative energy – an idea we’ll expand on in the next section. They’re extremely powerful in either supporting you or limiting your life experience. When you use words to belittle yourself, you diminish your own joy.

Do you still punish yourself for the mistakes you made as a child? More often than not the answer is no, because we realize that we were young and naive, and most of us have learned from them. They’ve allowed us to become better. This self-forgiveness should apply to your recent mistakes, too.

Every mistake you make can help you to improve as a person. But to make use of the lesson within each of your mistakes, you must first learn to let them go. Accept what has happened. Breathe it in, breathe it out and let it go. You’re only human and you’re allowed to continue with life, regardless of the magnitude of the mistake. Don’t punish yourself for what you’ve done, and instead focus on what you can do better.

Beating yourself up will not change the situation. It’s what you strive for next that matters most.

Have you ever met someone you haven’t seen for a long time, and they tell you, ‘You’ve grown up so much!’? And if they’d talked to someone else about you before you’d met again, they’d probably have talked about the version of you who they last knew; someone from the past?

The truth is that ‘You in the Past’ was probably completely different from who you are now. So if someone judges you for your past, it’s their problem. They’re the ones who are living in a place that no longer exists. If they don’t understand that people grow up and mature, they probably have some growing of their own to do. Don’t let anyone use your past as an excuse to judge you; they’re only trying to restrict you from building a blissful future. Remember that nothing stays the same, including you, and think back to all of your achievements and accomplishments.

It’s just as important that you let go of the past, too. People may have done things to you in the past that you feel are unforgivable. You might not even remember what they did, but you hang on to how they made you feel. Attaching yourself to these ill feelings will only be destructive to your mood, dragging your vibration down.

When you forgive people you don’t improve the past, you improve your present and future. You give yourself more peace and build more positive energy internally.

Those who cannot forgive people who’ve hurt them will only fall victim to them. Imagine having a major fallout with someone because they betrayed you. Initially, you’re livid and hurt. You cut yourself loose from them and eventually you forget about it – until you see them again. At this point you replay memories of what they did to you and your pain returns, because you haven’t actually forgiven them. This will dampen your spirits and could lead you to make destructive decisions.

Forgiveness isn’t about condoning someone’s poor behaviour and it doesn’t always mean that you need to invite individuals back into your life; it simply means that you’ll no longer allow them power over your thoughts and control over your emotional state. That way, they cannot dictate your destiny.




THANKS FOR READING POSITIVE PEOPLE!





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