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Stop Obsessing Over Self Improvement. Accept Yourself!

Stop Obsessing Over Self Improvement. Accept Yourself!

I recently had the honor of meeting author Robert Holden when we both spoke at the Hay House IGNITE event in San Jose, CA. Robert is someone whom I’ve admired for quite some time. It was wonderful to get a chance to meet him in person and hear him speak live. In his talk, he said “There’s no amount of self improvement that can make up for a lack of self acceptance.”

This statement really struck me and as I started to think about it more, I realized that so much of my life and my work is focused on self improvement. And while there’s nothing wrong with me or any of us wanting to improve ourselves – too often we go about it erroneously thinking that if we “achieve” the “improvement” we’re after, we’ll then feel good about ourselves. As Robert pointed out in his talk (and most of us have experienced this in our lives many times), it doesn’t work this way.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with self improvement. We turn on the TV, look at magazines, take classes, read books, listen to others, surf the web and more – constantly getting various messages that if we just fixed, changed and improved ourselves a bit, we’d be better off.  How often do you find yourself thinking some version of, “If I just lost a little weight, made a little more money, improved my health, had more inspiring work, lived in a nicer place, improved my relationships (or something else), then I’d be happy.” Even though I “know better,” this type of thinking shows up inside my own head more often than I’d like.

The paradox of self improvement is that by accepting ourselves as we are, we give ourselves the space, permission, and opportunity to create an authentic sense of success and fulfillment.  When we insatiably focus on improving ourselves, thinking that it will ultimately lead us to a place of happiness, we’re almost always disappointed and we set up a stressful dynamic of constantly striving, but never quite getting there.

What if we gave ourselves permission to accept ourselves fully, right now? While this is a simple concept, it’s one of the many things in life that’s easier said than done. One of the biggest pieces of resistance we have regarding self acceptance is that we erroneously think that by accepting ourselves, we may somehow be giving up. It’s as if we say to ourselves, “Okay, I’ll accept myself, once all of my problems and issues go away.”

Another reason we resist accepting ourselves is the notion that somehow acceptance is resignation. It’s not. Acceptance is acceptance – it’s about allowing things to be as they are, even if we don’t like them. As Byron Katie says (and I often quote), “When you argue with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

The paradox of self acceptance is that when we allow ourselves to accept who we are, where we are, what’s really happening, qualities about ourselves, aspects of who we are and more – we actually set ourselves up and give ourselves the opportunity to make changes, improvements, and enhancements to ourselves and our lives in an authentic way.  When we obsess about and/or demand these improvements or changes “in order to” be happy, feel good about ourselves, or think we’re successful, it almost never works.

If you take a moment right now to think about some of the most important improvements and changes you’re attempting to make in your life, ask yourself this question, “What would it look like, feel like and be like for me to fully accept myself in these important areas of my life?”

Most of the time it’s our own self criticism, perfection demands, and impatience that are actually getting in our way of making the changes, creating the success, and experiencing the fulfillment we truly want. What if we changed our approach and with as much love, compassion, and vulnerability as possible, just accepted ourselves exactly as we are, right now!

Related
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Change Your Beliefs and Save Your Life
Getting Out of Life What You Put in It

Read more: Inspiration, Self-Help, Spirit, , , , , , , ,

By Mike Robbins

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48 comments

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10:29AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

Thanks

4:15AM PDT on Jul 12, 2013

Accepting oneself is the start of welcoming what comes to them

10:54PM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

i cant accept myself that is lowering standards

1:40PM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

The paradox of self acceptance is that when we allow ourselves to accept who we are, where we are, what’s really happening, qualities about ourselves, aspects of who we are and more – we actually set ourselves up and give ourselves the opportunity to make changes, improvements, and enhancements to ourselves and our lives in an authentic way. When we obsess about and/or demand these improvements or changes “in order to” be happy, feel good about ourselves, or think we’re successful, it almost never works.

It's true, it took me nearly half a century to understand this and now I do, I feel happier, accept myself, I'll never be perfect but all any of us can really be is ourselves, so be yourself, forgive yourself for things you regret because after all who hasn't made mistakes. when you are happier you will attract the things you wish for into your life.

10:39AM PDT on Jun 5, 2013

To your own self be true. What matters most to you pretty much says who you are. See it, accept it, and move forward.

12:09PM PDT on May 27, 2013

I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'Well, if I'd known better I'd have done better,' that's all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, 'I'm sorry,' and then you say to yourself, 'I'm sorry.' If we all hold on to the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that's rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.

12:07PM PDT on May 27, 2013

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
― Gautama Buddha

3:21PM PDT on May 26, 2013

Thx

3:03PM PDT on May 26, 2013

We are unable to improve ourselves if we can not accept who we are.

12:21PM PDT on May 25, 2013

Thank you for the article.:)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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