When we think of Spring, we think of flowers blooming and a time right before nature invites us to shed some physical layers, to get outside, and to maybe even get together. Sometimes we may not feel quite ready to shed those layers or, if we’re working through this metaphor, we may not feel ready to be fully seen. Other times, our petals, from our clothes to our community, from our actions to our communication, can represent who we are, where we’ve been and where we come from. It’s a means of celebrating and sharing ourselves. When we feel aligned in our actions, words, and intentions, we begin to live in self-acceptance, we become unapologetically ourselves, and we form deeper connections. In other words, we accept ourselves, or our identity.
What does that mean?
Identity is often discussed as a construct that comes with varying degrees of how it influences our inner and outer experience. When it comes down to it, identity is a combination of personal factors, such as our gender identity, our racial and ethnic background, our sexuality, our ability status, our social economic status, our religious and spiritual beliefs, our education, and our culture. In short it is a combination of all the things that make us unique and similar and who we are. It’s also the way in which we experience the world, and in embracing our identity we are embracing the concept of genuine connectivity with self and others. In understanding that, when we find ourselves hiding parts of our authentic selves we may begin to feel isolated and alone.
Where does hiding come from?
The fear of not embracing ourselves may stem from a fear that that true self would be rejected, and this may be a reaction to some of the challenges that have come up in life. Perhaps it’s from experiences where one wasn’t accepted by peers, co-workers or by family, perhaps it’s due to the way a person sees themselves in the mirror, and the inner voice that one hears, or perhaps it’s due to seeing people who think like you, speak like you, or dress like you be marginalized and mistreated.
It’s easy to say, well – screw them, accept yourself and that’s all that matters, but we know it’s not, especially in the case of when safety and security lead the reasons to protect yourself. While we are here to say, those who see you will not reject you, those who are meant for you will be there for the real you, we also get it.
what does radical self-acceptance look like?
We’re not saying you need to be wholly vulnerable 24/7 and to put on the rose-colored glasses, it’s more about closing the gap between who you are and who you think you need to be, so that it’s so small there is no such thing as “who you need to be.” We know it’s painful when your truest self is rejected by others, especially if it comes from those you hold dear, but when we embrace our identity, we also cultivate an inner trust and knowing that there will be communities, friends and family, birth or chosen, that will be there for the real us, if that’s what we want.
When we begin to move towards the idea of radical self-acceptance , we may begin to experience some tough battles, lost connections, and this is when we most often stop ourselves from being ourselves. It’s not easy to go through it alone, and if you have only been surrounded by those that do not accept you for you, you may not feel ready to make those changes. It may also be hard for those that do love you, to understand what’s happening. This is when we believe that therapy is a tool to help you in a journey towards self-discovery, to provide the safe space for you to be your authentic self. Stay tuned as we’ll be sharing other tools in our self-compassion toolbox that will guide the way towards greater self-acceptance.