Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for September 5th, 2017

Why Is Self-Acceptance So Damned Hard?

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Folks, this blog is part of Collaboration with a Purpose. This time around, we have fourteen bloggers talking about the difficulties with self-love and acceptance. And as I have a really difficult time talking about that l-word when it comes to the self, I’m going to use the term “self-acceptance” for all of it.

Collab with a purpose Self Love

Why is accepting yourself as you are so damned hard?

Think about it. If someone you know is having a hard time, don’t you reach out and say, “Hey. I care. I am here for you. It doesn’t matter how you screwed up. It doesn’t matter at all. I care, I’m here, and I want to help.”

But you don’t do that for yourself. (At least, most of us don’t.) Instead, we beat ourselves up for our mistakes. Because we’re supposed to be perfect, even though it’s OK if everyone else isn’t.

So why is it that we have such a hard time with self-acceptance, anyway? Why can’t we be as kind to ourselves as we are to others in similar situations?

I don’t know. I’ve pondered this for a long time, actually, but despite that, I still have no answers.

Maybe we’re supposed to struggle with this. Maybe we’re supposed to learn, no matter how slowly, how to see ourselves as others do. Or at least how to learn to forgive ourselves for things we’d forgive anyone else…to appreciate our own humanity, even though that means we will make mistakes, and plenty of them.

And sometimes repeat them, even though we’re working on not doing so, because that’s part of being human, too.

It’s hard to unlearn old habits. And it’s really hard to pick up new ones even after you’ve unlearned the old.

Maybe being upset with ourselves is like that. (Hear me out, OK?) It’s like an old, bad habit. We do something that we get upset with, and we chastise ourselves, all because we’ve criticized ourselves this way since we were small. And we don’t know any better way; maybe we don’t even realize there might be a better way.

But accepting yourself, warts and all, is not easy. It sometimes seems easier to accept your worst enemy than your own self, because you believe you should always be at your best, no excuses, no quarter. Even though anyone else — including your worst enemy — you’d agree with the caveat that everyone has their down times, and that we have to accept them. (That is, if you’re feeling like being kind. And I do hope you are, at least for the purposes of this exercise.)

It’s not easy to say, “All right. I’m still a valuable human being, no matter how many mistakes I’ve made, and no matter how often I’ve made them. I deserve to treat myself with kindness and respect, just like I’d treat anyone else,” because we’re not taught how to do that. We’re taught instead that if we think too much about ourselves, we run the risk of being narcissistic.

Or at least self-absorbed. And no one wants that.

All you can do, every day, is tell yourself that it’s all right to forgive yourself, the same way you’d forgive anyone else for the same thing.

And if it’s too hard to tell yourself, “I care, I’m not going to stop caring, and I am not going to hate you forever for screwing up big-time,” well, at least tell yourself that tomorrow is another day. And you can and will make it better, so stop beating yourself up already.

Self-acceptance is damned hard to achieve, no lie. But it is possible. And you should keep working on it, and figure out a strategy that works for you, so you can put your energy to its best use creating things of wonder and beauty — or at least not waste it beating yourself up.

 

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Written by Barb Caffrey

September 5, 2017 at 12:25 am