Today’s post comes from the glorious Polly Campbell, author of Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People. Polly’s got a heart of gold and good wisdom to boot so I am thrilled to share her challenge for you today.
The gray stands out now. It’s loud against the dark of my hair. There are a few wrinkles around my eyes and mouth, marking my age like rings on a tree. And my body is a little lumpier than it used to be.
I can see all this, when I look in the mirror while I’m brushing my teeth. I notice it all. And all of it is okay. I don’t have to cover up that gray. I don’t have to hide the wrinkles. I don’t have to harangue, judge, fix, blame, deny, excuse myself for somehow not being right or good enough or young enough or thin enough. Not anymore. I have learned to be with me. To accept all that is.
Instead of judging myself – now, finally — I can be grateful that I’ve lived life long enough for some hair to go gray. I can bow my head and give thanks that I have smiled enough for there to be laugh-lines along my lips.
Or, I can simply see all of who I am and be with that without doing anything at all.
Self-acceptance is about seeing the truth without judgment. You don’t have to disparage the physical traits that you have deemed less than, nor do you have to attach to the so-called physical assets. You can simply accept all those little details that make you who you are.
Problem is we are not in the habit of doing this. We think we’ve got to have an opinion about everything. Criticism often comes easier, faster, louder than the compliments. We are hardest on ourselves. Somehow, we believe that pummeling our psyche is a way of motivating ourselves to fix our flaws. How much sense does that make?
Our flaws are not a problem – they are simply characteristics we possess. Those same characteristics are connected to the divine aspect of all that we are — our essence. They are not a liability or limitation. They simply are. Yet, we use them as weapons to make ourselves small.
Develop a habit of self-acceptance
Self-acceptance then, is about doing it differently. It’s about creating a new habit, one that allows you to see your life and yourself clearly, without angst or attachment. One that allows you to see all of whom you are without pushing it away.
When you do that, you become free. You are able to engage in your life, rather than excuse it. You are able to see clearly the possibility for peace and love and joy that’s been there, within you, all along.
Now, don’t start shaking your head. You can get there, with a little daily practice that will help you start the habit of self-acceptance.
Try this exercise adapted from Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People.
Say What You See
Go to the mirror. Take a deep breath and look at your reflection. Then, say aloud, what you see. Without judgment. Just see what’s there: a curl of hair over your forehead. A stain on your shirt, a sunspot on the top of your hand, a blemish on your nose, white teeth, pink nail polish, brown eyes.
You don’t need to talk in terms of good or bad. The sunspot doesn’t mean you’re old, it is simply a sunspot. The brown eyes aren’t too small or too big, they are YOUR brown eyes.
When you get in the habit of seeing simply what’s there, step your practice up a notch and take that approach with others in your life. Instead of “my husband is looking old” the reality may be that he’s 50 years old. Your daughter isn’t “too fat” or “too thin” or “too messy” or “too pretty.” Your daughter is a spirit-filled being.
Acceptance simply says it like it is and leaves the rest behind. When you get in the habit of doing this for yourself, you’ll find that you also become kinder, more compassionate, more forgiving of the others in your life.
Today: Catch yourself, as you go through your routine. Notice the areas that you are judging or disparaging and rephrase. Simply take a closer look at what is and then say it another way: “I’m fat and ugly”, becomes “I weigh 200 pounds.” “My hair is a mess, transforms to my hair is curly.” “He’s a jerk” becomes “he used a loud voice that made me uncomfortable.”
When you stop creating stories and drama around the moments of your life you become more present. Anxiety and stress dissipate and you are free to respond in a more powerful, peaceful way. Acceptance is not resignation; it is the road to truth. From there you are free to connect to your spirit and see who you really are – a divine marvel.
1. How did you speak the truth to yourself today? What line did you change and how?
Remember that your comment here about your experience with the challenge enters you in the giveaways!
Polly Campbell is the author of Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People (Viva Editions, 2012). Her magazine articles appear regularly in national publications. She blogs at www.imperfectspirituality.com and is a sought after motivational speaker and workshop leader. Polly is also a football fan (Go Ducks!) and an experienced Go Fish player. She lives in Oregon.