Marvin’s relationships never lasted. Even if they did, they were a series of unacceptable compromises and fraught with dissatisfaction. He could not, he said, find real love, the kind that transported a person and created a cocoon of unconditional acceptance. Upon further questioning, it became clear to me that Marvin was actually afraid of that kind of love. His very first love had cheated on him after they were engaged. He was also a veteran who had lost many friends to the brutality of war. Marvin knew how much it hurt to love and lose. So he gradually withdrew his affection and attention from every relationship when things got intense, and finally, in every case, the women ended things. Marvin could not accept his role in these outcomes, and truly believed that the women’s leaving was simply proof that love did not exist. He was unable to admit his fear, or his own inability to stay the course. Until he accepted where he was, who he was, and why, he would never grow or change… or find the love he said he wanted.
What is self-acceptance?
The first step in accepting yourself is to see reality. This is not automatic. Just as the 89-pound anorexic sees obesity in the mirror and someone with low self-esteem sees failure in every opportunity, we don’t automatically see the truth of ourselves. Until Marvin sees his own truth about his fears and his tendency to withdraw, he will not be able to accept himself fully.
Stop denying. Stop minimizing. Make a confession to yourself: this is me, the good, bad, and beautiful. Accepting your feelings, fears, doubts, bad habits, and whatever your situation is at this moment will free you to unconditionally love and accept yourself.
With yourself and your reality as it truly is. Once you see the truth, you connect with it—you own it. Then you can define where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you want to be.
Denial is a powerfully destructive force. Think about it. By definition it is a falsification of what is real. When we deny actual reality (he is a cheater, she doesn’t love me, I deserve better, whatever it is), the resulting rollercoaster can involve guilt, disappointment, confusion, negative thinking, shame, stress, and even disassociation, anxiety, and chronic depression. The downward spiral that results from our denial is no fun, and it won’t end as long as truth is being pushed away.
It was much easier for Marvin to believe that women could not be trusted, did not know how to love, were too demanding, or even that they deserved “better” than he could offer—anything rather than admit the truth: that he was frightened. He prided himself in being brave—an indomitable soldier with a medal of honor. How could intimacy scare him? Anything was preferable to that truth. His head was spinning the faster the merry-go-round of negativity whirled, but he still could not see, acknowledge, and connect with the real Marvin. He was stuck.
Why is it so important to accept yourself?
→ You will be empowered to make meaningful change in your life. Nonjudgmentally accepting yourself as you are and acknowledging and owning your feelings are processes vital to growth. Marvin’s fear did not make him less lovable. How he reacted to it simply blocked him from finding happiness. Denying that it was happening meant no woman was permitted to stand by his side as he worked through his challenges. Once you trust that you are lovable, any transformation you envision can take place, and will.
How can you learn to accept yourself and deepen the connection to the true you?
XOXO See, acknowledge, and connect to the real you, warts and all. Your beautiful, imperfect body, your fabulous imperfect personality, your talents, your faults, your imagined faults, your strengths, and all the lessons learned in your lifetime, including the ones not quite learned yet….
XOXO Notice what you dislike about yourself. Here’s a tip: things that bug you like crazy about other people are often clues to what you disparage in yourself, unwittingly. Ask yourself: is this truth about me enough to keep me from accepting myself?
XOXO Forgive Marvin was hesitant to acknowledge his role in his own unfulfilling love life but when he did, he had to forgive himself and start again. We are not perfect and we don’t learn without falling.
XOXO Trust that you are lovable. Have you ever loved someone with all your heart, but sometimes can’t help thinking about how annoying they can be? Right. You can be annoying too, but that does not mean you’re not lovable!
XOXO Trust that you are good enough. What you need—you got. You have what it takes to accept yourself. You have what it takes to love yourself. You have what it takes to be loved the way you deserve.
XOXO Be accountable for your own worthiness. When you do that, you won’t look to others for validation and lovability. Another way to say this is “let go of the need for approval” –except your own, of course!
To achieve self-acceptance, you need to open your heart to the most important person in your life: YOU. When you have accepted yourself, the sky is the limit. Love and all it entails can be yours. Yes… you can be vulnerable and safe at the same time. You have everything you need inside you. You are enough!
Previously published on Be Free to Love