In the last week I tried accepting myself as I am. Easier said than done. What does it even mean to accept yourself? No one taught me that as a child, I had to be in a certain way to be accepted and loved. I am trying to grasp the meaning of accepting myself: understanding the “why’s” behind my actions, emotions and receiving them with kindness. I find it the most difficult to accept myself when I am reacting in a bad way to the behavior of people who hurt me. I remember hearing you say we should “forgive ourselves”. That struck me as a wonderful thing to do. What is acceptance to you?
Hello dear friend,
There are many ways to understand ‘accepting yourself’ and ‘accepting others’, but one that always seems truer is that you accept yourself and accept others because, really, nobody chooses to be what they are.
Do you believe even for a second that anybody would chose to suffer? Of course not! But so often we do and say things that create suffering for both ourselves and other people. Why? Because we cannot help it. Because it is not up to us!
Our psychology (and what I mean by our psychology is all the ways we relate to ourselves, other people and the world) is given to us without any choosing on our part. According to eastern traditions—and my belief/understanding—, we are already born with many (MANY) conditionings that come from past lives. But even if you do not believe this (and truly, there is no absolute way to be certain either one way or the other), modern science leaves no doubt that most of our psychology is formed during the first 7 to 10 years of our lives, a time when we have absolutely no saying about it. During those years we are like sponges absorbing all the beauty and ugliness of life, and it is exactly these experiences what create the psychology that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. And it is that psychology the one that reacts to life. The one that sees, feels, thinks, hopes, believes and fears is not you, the person you think you are right now, but this hidden power.
We never respond to what is happening in the moment, we always respond to our ideas of what is happening in the moment, and our ideas of what is happening in the moment are created by the psychology that was created in the past (either in the first 7 to 10 years of our lives or in our first years plus our previous lifetimes).
This psychology was created by Life, the universe or God (you can call it that if you have a religious inclination), just as the weather in this moment, the trees, the shape of the planet, or even cars were created by Life. If you search Wikipedia you will find that Karl Benz built the first automobile, but, in my understanding, he was only the instrument for it. Did he choose to have the intelligence, the inclination, the means, the time, the will to go past all obstacles, the right kind of psychology… and even the idea about it? No! It was given to him. Did he create his body, his mind, his brain, his strength? No! It was given to him. Everything is given to us. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly. EVERYTHING is part of the incredibly amazing perfection of life. Including our confused psychology. And everything has a reason. Not a reason that will make sense to our limited minds (what do we really know about the universe, about life and death, about the origin and the meaning of life? Nothing!), but a reason in the larger scheme of things… no different than an earthquake that can bring horror and destruction to humanity has a reason at the level of the planet.
And so, why should we accept ourselves and accept other people? Because everything is the perfect manifestation of Life, the universe or God. We need to learn to accept a flower, an earthquake and our psychology as the inescapable destiny of what is. It is fine to like a flower, dislike an earthquake and try to change our psychology if we see the need, but, at a deeper level, at a more fundamental and truer level, we need to see the three of them as the perfect manifestation of life in this particular moment.
And in time, and with more maturity, acceptance will become love for what is. Why? Because it IS, and what is cannot not be. And what is—is the perfection (and the need) of life expressing itself. Yes, life had the need to create a flower, an earthquake and our psychology. Why? Because of trillions of laws, an infinite web of causes and effects that at a certain point explodes into the appearance of this particular moment. And this explosion, this moment, is nothing but life expressing itself. And there is no doubt that when we are in a more quiet, open, wise space, we completely and absolutely love life, this life, our life, the whole of life.
All it takes is to step out of our little space of individual likes and dislikes and see the larger picture. And from that open space, we can enjoy the flower, run for shelter if an earthquake happens and try to change our psychology if we see the need… but, based on that ‘seeing’ and independent of what is happening, we experience that profound sense of acceptance and love running at the depth of our beings, right here and now.