What is acceptance?
Or, more to the point - Why does it matter?
A couple weeks ago I was coming home from a wonderful trip to Las Vegas. Needless to say I was quite tired. On my way home I had a layover and to my unfortunate lack of luck, the plane was delayed and I ended up missing my layover.
In that moment I asked myself 3 questions;
Can I change it? → No
Will being upset make my situation better or worse? → Worse
How do I need to proceed honoring my values? → Accept what is, learn what you can, and roll with it
When I called my husband and my father they were both outraged by the situation, but not me. Accepting the circumstances gave me the gift of peace.
So why does acceptance matter? It’s an opportunity to see life as it is without the emotional heat. It separates circumstances from perspective. However, the challenge we face is that most people tend to misinterpret acceptance as approval. As if they accept the circumstances they’re approving of them.
Given my example hopefully you can see whether I approved or not that was what was happening. When it comes to personal growth, accepting oneself is a gateway to inner peace.
So you might be wondering, how does learning the difference between ‘acceptance’ and ‘approval’ apply to my weight loss journey?
Let me explain with this example; for decades I refused to accept myself, specifically my body. I was fit but I carried 20 extra pounds I didn’t really need. I was successful with diets, losing weight effectively and efficiently, but the lifestyle I had to maintain to do that was miserable.
And the weird part was, when I lost the weight I wanted to I felt great, but secretly I was playing a game. I became curious about how low my weight could go. Ultimately, everything I thought I’d get or feel when I lost the weight didn’t exist. I didn’t magically, overnight fall in love with my body and gain all the confidence in my shape that I’d always wanted.
I got to a point where I was so thin, yet still felt fat, but I could see my ribs. Something wasn’t right. I was in denial about my body, but more importantly I was in denial of my entire sense of worth.
I truly believed my worth was dictated by my outward appearance. I understand why I thought that way, it’s part of living in the world we live in. Social media, product marketing and images we see everywhere about what is “beautiful” can really reframe how you feel about yourself if you don’t look like the bodies you see out there.
You see, I would never judge or think less of a person because of their size. And if someone thought less of me because of my size, that’s not a person I’d want in my life. I’m not in competition with others, there’s room for all of us.
So why was I so judgemental of myself? Why didn’t I accept myself and love myself?
Acceptance is what frees us from the mental cage we trap ourselves in. Don’t get me wrong - there are still plenty of days that I look in the mirror and notice things about my body I don’t like, but I since I’ve learned to accept who I truly am, vs. who I think I should look like, I don’t hate myself or my body anymore.
I don’t attach my worth to it anymore. Ok I don’t like parts of my body sometimes -so what? We all have days we don’t feel our best. But we can still accept and love every inch of us.
That is acceptance.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Hopefully you’re starting to understand that acceptance isn’t about how you feel, it’s reality, it’s fact. Whether you like or dislike something won’t make it less real. Acceptance is a frame of mind, a place to feel safe. It includes the parts of you that you don’t like, but acceptance understands that it’s ok to not like them - you just don’t have to hate them. Acceptance sees all parts of you and lets you continue to grow and improve.
So, back to where we started: Acceptance and approval are not the same thing. So why does it matter?
Think of it this way: I don’t know a single person who likes being rejected. Do you? But when we live our lives in denial of who we are, in a state of unacceptance, we are basically rejecting ourselves. And when we reject ourselves because of a little extra weight or a roll or two, despite all the other wonderful things about ourselves, it causes serious damage to our confidence and sense of self worth. That’s called self sabotage.
Because of how our brain works (Think Yourself Happy is a great resource to help you understand how the brain works) when we deny our truth, we create more denial FOR ourselves. It acts like a domino effect. If you deny you’re stubborn, every instance where you are stubborn and you deny it your brain will have to make sense of the circumstances given the foundation that you’re not stubborn, thus it creates a false reality. That means that we are actively training our brain to seek out what we don’t like about ourselves, keeping us blind to all the good we actually do. We create a life of suffering, afraid to live into our greatest potential because we are completely unaware of what that even is.
Personally, growing up I had no idea of the value of self acceptance. But through my work as a confidence coach I’ve not only gained clarity and leveled up my own life, I’ve seen it transform hundreds of my clients.
The key is understanding that once you learn to accept all of you: your looks, your strengths, your faults, and your weaknesses, you open yourself up to a ton of self love, but also to the opportunity to keep improving.
When you learn to accept yourself, you’re not giving up, quitting, or settling. You’re just choosing not to live in denial of your greatness.
So here’s my question to you….how can your life be different if you accept ALL of who you are?