The A, B, C of Self Love : Self Acceptance

As a follow on from last week’s blog, today I would like to share with you the first element of the ‘The A, B, C of Self Love’. I created this model to enable more open, exploratory discussions about Self Love.

 

Once you begin exploring what Self Love is & isn’t, you realise it's importance. But once you realise how key it is, how do you go about manifesting more Self Love in your life?

 

If only it was as easy as A, B, C.

 

Unfortunately, we know it's not. If you’ve spent any time thinking about how to install more Self Love in your life, you’ll know it is hard.

 

Screw you Bieber. (Only joking you cutie)

 

One of our #SelfLove Masterclass participants did a great job summing up the Self Love challenge:

 

“It’s as hard to fall in love with yourself as it is to fall in love with someone else.”

 

That’s something to reflect on. My positive challenge to the group was that it could actually be harder to love ourselves than to love others.

 

Why? Because you know all the things about yourself that you choose to keep from others. Your deepest, darkest secrets; your biggest flaws; your regrets and your most negative thoughts. Some of that stuff is pretty hard to love.

 

So while loving yourself isn't always going to be easy, we know it's worth it.

 

I thought it would be ironic to explore Self Love using the simplest framework I could think of…

A, B, C.

So what’s the A, B, C of Self Love?

 

A is for Acceptance.

B is for Belief

C is for Care.

 

Let’s break it down and start with the first element of the Self Love A, B, C:

Self Acceptance

A trusted advisor recently reminded me that we should always ‘Eat the Frog First’. In other words- tackle the toughest topic first and everything else will be easier to handle. Self Acceptance is without a doubt the toughest cookie to crumble in the Self Love mix.

Self Acceptance is about how aware you are of who you are and why, then accepting yourself, 100%. It’s about loving you WARTS AND ALL.

Yes, even when you have sleep in your eyes and a dribble stain on your chin first thing in the morning. And when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. And when you remember that thing that happened to you years ago but still makes you feel sick to your stomach. Those mistakes you made. The dreams you haven't got to work on yet. Those regrets and secrets you’ve filed away in a dusty cabinet at the back of your mind. No matter how you feel, what you look like or how others perceive you.

Self Acceptance is about loving yourself despite, regardless, no matter what, irrespective, nonetheless.

Ok so that sounds great but how do you start to accept yourself more?

To learn how to accept yourself more you need to tackle a big hairy, scary question. One that we don’t ask often enough and shy away from because of the vulnerability that’s involved. One I’m going to ask you right now:

WHO ARE YOU?

I spend hours exploring this key question with my coaching clients. Read this question again before you read on and take a moment to reflect on what emotions this evokes.

Our minds can go in one hundred different directions when we get asked this question. There are so many levels that personal identity can be articulated and defined.

I love the scene in Alice in Wonderland where the Caterpillar asks Alice this whilst puffing on his shisha.

Alice retorts:  “I hardly know sir, I’ve changed so many times since this morning you see?”

In one line Alice does a fab job of articulating how complicated personal identity is. We are complex beings us humans. We are fluid, changing all the time; emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, physiologically.

So, back to the question. Who are you?

Let me give you an example of an exercise that I use with my coaching clients to explore this question:

Take three sheets of paper and on each write one of the below questions at the top:

1.        Who are you emotionally?

2.        Who are you physically?

3.       Who are you mentally?

For each question, close your eyes for a moment, breath deeply and focus on the question for a moment. When you are ready open your eyes and fill the page with words, images or scribbles – what ever comes to mind. Then move onto the next question. Once you have answered each question and filled up each of the three sheets, lay them out next to one another. Compare them - what do you see? Are there any key similarities or differences?

Your emotions, your physicality and your mental state are all temporary. They change. Often. You are always shedding skin, your mood shifts; you may gain or lose weight. But you are so much bigger and more complex than the sum of these three aspects of you.

Your inherent value is not tied up in your emotions, your physicality or your mental capacity or state.

You are bigger and badder than all your individual elements and experiences of Self. You are enough.

Another key way to become more accepting of yourself is to explore the importance of your journey. Where you’ve come from and what you’ve experienced have a huge influence on who we are and how we show up. How you view your journey and experiences has a direct impact on the level of Self Acceptance you have.

So with that in mind, here’s another hairy question for you:

WHERE HAVE YOU COME FROM?

For some of you, reflecting on your formative years might evoke nothing but happy memories. But for many of us, that’s not the case.

When I was 19 I got asked to draw an answer to 'Where have I come from?' by my Therapist (I’ve had many over the years!). I spent almost the whole session colouring in the piece of A4 paper with black and grey markers. I cried the whole time, but that night I slept better than I had in months.

It’s important to recognise where we’ve come from. Both the negative & destructive experiences as well as the positive & uplifting.  Each experience is a part of our journey. And none of them define you.

Whatever you have experienced, have had done to you or have achieved, is not who you are.

Here is an activity that you can do in your own time to explore your journey's impact on Self Acceptance. I did this exercise in 2008 on the WYSE International Leadership programme in Brazil. It blew my mind.

Take another three sheets of paper, and write the below questions as a header on each:

1.      Where have I come from?

2.     Where am I now?

3.      Where am I going?

Take a sheet and spend some time with your eyes closed, breathing deeply and ponder the question.  Open your eyes and write or draw whatever comes to mind until you’ve filled the page. Then move onto the next question.

Once you have answered all three questions take some time to reflect on the pages. How have you illustrated your journey? How does looking at each page make you feel?

Acknowledge your emotions and feelings about each page in turn. Are they positive or negative? Constructive or destructive? Is there anything you think or feel you need to let go of?

Where you have come from and what you've experienced matters but your past only defines you as much as you let it.

This quote resonates with me when I think about where I have come from and my past struggles. I hope it resonates with you too:

“We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it.”  - Rick Warren

Letting go is a big part of Self Acceptance. It’s so freeing to do! It’s like removing gunky blockages from a stinky drain and then seeing the water run free and clear.

By accepting what has happened has happened doesn’t mean you are pretending it’s all ok.  It means you are able to move forwards in life. It means you can step into a place where you know that your future belongs to you and you are not bound by your past.

Forgiveness (of both ourselves and others) plays a massive role in our ability to let go. It is such a big topic that I will explore it in a separate post. I’m thinking of running a #LessOrdinaryLife Apology / Forgiveness Masterclass at some point!

As I said at the start, Self Acceptance is a tough cookie to crumble. And sometimes we need a bit of extra help to get our head around the process of it. 

I am a massive advocate of Therapy and have many years of counselling, CBT and talking therapy under my belt. This is partly why that I am so excited that we are now offering Less Ordinary Therapy as a new service.

The fabulous Simone Stephen is the newest member of the team here at A Life Less Ordinary Wanted. She is our new resident Less Ordinary Therapist. Simone is a qualified & accredited Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist and has been practicing as an integrative therapist for four years. Simone is passionate about supporting clients on their journey to Self Discovery and Self Love. If you think that you might be in need of some extra support on your Self Acceptance journey you can now book a free consultation with Simone here.

So over to you! What have you found has supported you on your journey to a greater sense of Self Acceptance in your life? I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below.

In my next blog post I will share the second component of the A, B, C of Self Love model: Self Belief.

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Tickets for our next #LessOrdinaryLife Masterclass: *GOAL GETTERS– A Goal Setting Masterclass* taking place on Saturday 19th March are now on sale here.

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