3 Ways Self Acceptance Spurs on Personal Growth
This probably sounds like one of the biggest contradictions in the personal development world, right? Being okay with who we are...doesn’t that mean we can call it quits and sit on the couch eating Doritos? That’s what self-acceptance is right? Well, not exactly. I’m going to talk about accepting where we’re at now is actually the key to actually enjoying the progress we’re making, as well as how it helps preventing us from getting distracted with where other people are at. And it helps ground us into a mindset that sets us up for success instead of forever stopping, starting, and stalling in our efforts.
Appreciating the Journey, Not the Destination
How many of us watch on social media, daydream about, talk to others about things we wish we had time to do? Interests we have but haven’t acted on in months or years? If you’re ambitious and a planning type like me, there’s an ideal future version of you that you want to be, that you’d either like to work toward or are taking steps to be (if so, go you awesome person!). And then, of course, we’re impatient. I want to be that person now-- not in 6 months or a year, but right now. We see it perfectly in our minds and it frustrates us that we can’t do all the things. That’s why we want to eat right AND declutter our house AND start a journal AND meditate. Life just doesn’t happen that way. Nor should it.
Accepting where you’re at now doesn’t mean rejecting what you’re trying to achieve, but what it helps with is appreciating that this is a journey with starts, stops, and occasional setbacks. What we think we want can often change, so when you concern yourself with future you, you’re not going to be flexible and adjust where you need to. This sets you up for frustration and when it starts to get hard you’ll quit. When we accept that the point is the journey, you’re much more likely to course correct and not be so concerned in the goalposts that are constantly moving anyway.
Comparing Yourself to Others is Kryptonite to Success
Self-acceptance also has another great effect -- when you are comfortable with your starting point, where other people are at in their own lives isn’t going to shatter your own confidence. Most of us have this lingering feeling that “we’re not enough.” This only exacerbates when we look at the people we know and admire experience success or some significant milestone because we feel that we need to catch up. It’s a ridiculous concept though. Have you heard that we shouldn’t compare our beginning to others’ middles? We may understand this concept intellectually but until we can accept where we are at right now, we will stay in comparison mode and will eventually get stuck there and stall progress in our own lives. While getting energized and inspired by other people is one thing, self-acceptance will take that as fuel to keep going instead of a stick to beat ourselves up with.
What we can do instead is tell ourselves that what is working for others may not work for us. That we all have our own unseen difficulties and that they’re having issues just like us. When social media is only showcasing the triumphs and highlights, it can be hard to maintain perspective and stay grounded. Try to think of when others have inspired you on your own journey and when you have encouraged others in their unique goals.
Ditching the “All or Nothing” Mindset Helps You Get Stuff Done
When we’re devising our goals, we know to make them specific. When we want to eat right we plan on eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables or when we want to move more we set a goal of 10,000 steps daily. There’s nothing inherently wrong with setting a specific goal, but in a lot of ways it can serve as a method of self sabotage. Why? Because life happens. Appointments run late, you or your significant other gets sick, sometimes 10,000 steps is just going to be impossible. And what ends up happening is that if we can’t hit the 100% mark, we usually opt not to do anything at all.
That is the ultimate false belief: either go all in or do absolutely nothing. This just results in multiple false stops and starts. We will never accomplish our goals if we can’t be consistent in taking steps towards what we want. Consistency is freaking hard, right? And it’s only harder when we adopt this bizarre “all or nothing” mindset that sets us up for stasis and spinning our wheels.
Accepting and understanding that “Hey, just 75% is all I can do today. And that is enough.” is how we’re going to enjoy life and not feel chained to our obligations and goals has been this light bulb moment for myself and others. What I like to do with clients is preemptively decide on ways they can “cheat” on their goals, not all the time but when they don’t have much time that day or when something comes up. They still know what they can do, in 5-10 minute increment that day to keep the act of consistency up. When you accept yourself where you’re at, your satisfied with progress in all its forms. Even when it’s a single step. When the goal is all you see and you’re not satisfied with where you’re at now, only large leaps will do. And that’s just not something we can keep up. We can’t make progress and be consistent with that. We have to be compassionate with ourselves and forgive ourselves when we get sick or injured and unable to set an entire hour towards prepping meals or whatever else you’ve set forth to do.
Adopting a consistent and progressive mindset that shuns comparison mode and what everyone else is doing is what’s going to spark the changes you’re wanting to see in your life and emotional well-being. In my own personal life, that was when I allowed myself to recharge and transform my mood and my health. I suggest looking at what’s good in your life, what your current strengths are, and how you can continue to make small progress even when you’re dealing with all of the things that life happens to throw at you. Remember every time it gets hard: you are enough and you can do it. Take it slow and be happy with where you’re at and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with where you’re going.