Living a Life You Love: Radiate Self-Acceptance
So you’re not perfect. You struggle with food issues. Maybe other issues, too. But the truth is, everyone is flawed. Accept that fact, then accept your imperfect self for who you are right now. Once you truly get this, you will stop struggling with the past at the same time you are struggling to improve your future. When you let go of that past, you leave openings for new ideas, new attitudes, and new people in your life.
The more flexible you are and the more easily you accept the idea that some things have to change, the easier it is to let go of an obsession with food and move on to a happier, healthier lifestyle. As you feel your life improving, you will experience many changes in the way you see yourself and in the way you see the world around you.
Even though these might be changes for the better, they are probably scary simply because they are different. You’ll be thinking in new ways and doing many things differently than you’ve done them before. Remember, fear can prevent you from letting go of self-destructive habits and truly enjoying the rest of your life. Don’t let that happen!
When you free yourself from obsession, you will be a different person from who you are now. You will think, look, and feel different. Getting to that truth, that place of self-acceptance, comes from exploring yourself from the inside out. Defining who you are and what you want from life is the first step to knowing yourself and getting what you want—a happier, healthier life.
Self-knowledge—a clear vision of your own character, powers, strengths, limitations and potential—isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something many people struggle to learn and, for some, it can take a lifetime. You have gathered a great deal of knowledge and experience in your life so far, which helps you understand who you are. That’s not your whole story. You are also everything you have the potential to be, if you give yourself the opportunity to reach that potential.
Self-acceptance means you’ll stop being your own worst enemy. You’ll stop picking on yourself for things no one else even notices. You’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin and have an easier time being true to yourself. You’ll stop worrying so much about what other people think and have more control over the direction of your own life. Accepting also means accepting your limitations. That doesn’t mean you have to give up hope or stop striving to improve. But rather than focusing on things you can’t change, rather than setting impossibly high standards for yourself and setting yourself up to fail, concentrate on what you do well and on all you’ve done to get your self to this point. Even if all you are doing right now is reading self-help articles, that’s a big first step toward self-acceptance.
When you accept yourself, you stop comparing yourself to other people. There is such a thing as healthy competition, but it’s not a good idea to compare yourself too closely to others. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll compare yourself to someone who is skinnier. If you’ve just joined a gym, you’ll compare yourself to someone who has been working out for ten years. In the end, that only makes you feel bad about yourself. And you won’t feel any better comparing yourself to someone who hasn’t been successful dealing with weight and health issues; that’s just looking down on someone else and propping up your own ego by feeling superior to another person. Best to turn all that attention you give to others back around to yourself.
You can accept who you are, what you look like, and how much you weigh right now and still be determined to change what you are not happy with. Acceptance is not necessarily approval. It simply means you’ve ended the emotional struggle against reality. You may not like being someone who is obsessed with diet and weight control; you may not want it in your life at all. But acceptance means “Here it is anyway; now what am I going to do about it?” When you’re no longer struggling against who and what you are, it will be so much easier to make whatever changes you want to make, because you’ll be starting from a more positive, clear-minded place.
These are the benefits of self-acceptance, and they can also serve as goals:
You will feel a sense of freedom.
You will be less afraid to fail.
You will grow in self-esteem.
You will stop struggling to win approval from others.
You will believe that you have great value and believe that others know it, too.
You will become more independent.
You will give yourself more leeway when it comes to making mistakes.
You will be able to take more risks without worrying about the consequences.
You will live your life to please yourself, not to please others.
You will accept yourself for who you are and expect others to accept (respect, love) you for who you are, not what you look like or what you appear to accomplish.