I had a fascinating conversation with a friend yesterday about self-acceptance. So often, we deride ourselves for qualities or tendencies we feel we should change. In my case, I am fairly introverted, and I often criticize myself for not being more outgoing. I love making new friends, but it sometimes takes me a while to open up to people and I frequently wish that I could change that.
However, being an introvert is simply part of my nature. It is not a bad thing, nor is it something for which I should criticize myself. Many of the characteristics about ourselves that we deem to be negative are, in reality, neutral or, at the very least, not our doing. Some people are naturally inclined to fear change. For these people to tell themselves they should be more daring is not productive. Yes, fearing change may be inhibiting, but it is nothing we should chide ourselves for. Instead, we should simply acknowledge that the fear is part of our nature and learn to work with it.
When trying to overcome our fears or grow beyond unhelpful habits and patterns, we only make the work more difficult for ourselves when we engage in negative self-talk. For me, it is difficult enough to work on being more open with new people. I only put additional challenges in my way when I tell myself I shouldn’t be introverted. It is not a matter of whether I should or shouldn’t be an introvert – it is simply the case that I am, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If I accept that truth and act compassionately toward myself, it is likely that I will be able to become more open with others within my introverted framework. On the other hand, if I fight my nature and tell myself I should be something I’m not, I am unlikely to make any progress.