Lesson 6: The Power of Acceptance
Until you feel your feelings, you will not allow others to feel theirs.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
In Lesson 4 we learned that no one can make us mad or upset without our permission. The only person that we can change is ourselves. This does not mean that we are to beat ourselves up and give up on ourselves because we have not lived up to our own standards. Lesson 5 taught us that we are to love ourselves first and foremost. If we don’t love us, then who will? I think the big lesson in both of these is that we are to understand that we are human, and are therefore bound to make mistakes, and probably the same mistakes over and over again. That’s called being human. It’s more about the lessons you are learning from your mistakes.
Lesson 6 is about the Power of Acceptance. Acceptance means favorable reception or approval. There is nothing in that definition about other people. It means everyone, including and especially, yourself. Becky Bailey, in her book Conscious Discipline, says, “We must discipline ourselves first by changing our beliefs. By changing our beliefs...we change our thoughts. This changes our feelings, which changes our behaviors.” If you change your beliefs to say that “I am a lovable and capable human being,” then you allow yourself the privilege of loving yourself just the way you are, warts and all. You understand that you will do your best and that your best, on any given day, may look different … and that’s OK.
My student, in Lesson 5, had not learned the lesson of acceptance. I had not walked in his shoes, I don’t know exactly why he was driven to perfection. I can make assumptions, but that is all that they are and I am not here to make judgments against anyone. Far from it! I am here to assure you that when you seek, when you crave perfection, you are destined to a life of never being quite good enough. You will always find fault in what you have, what you do, and who you are. While I’ve never reached the level that this young man was at, I’ve struggled with the idea that to be loved, I must meet someone’s criteria. I’ve looked for things to fill a void in me that couldn’t be filled, for when I got the “prize” there was always another just ahead.
It wasn’t until I learned that to be loved, to feel loved, I had to love myself that I began to really understand. Loving others, accepting others, isn’t really possible until we can and do love ourselves. So what do I mean when I say love ourselves?
“But there isn't any second half of myself waiting to plug in and make me whole. It's there. I'm already whole.”
Sally FieldHere’s what I’m talking about: Loving yourself means accepting ALL of the parts of you, the parts you like and especially the parts you don’t like. We all have them, both of them. Acceptance of the parts you like is pretty simple. If you don’t have any of these or only a few of these, then we need to have another discussion. I want to focus on the parts you don’t like for now. These parts are here, within us, to teach us lessons. Remember, we all have them. I mean every one of us! Instead of fighting them, instead of being angry with ourselves over them, we need to love them and when we learn to love them and accept them as lessons, then they will begin to dissipate. Remember, what you focus on, you get more of.
If you beat yourself up for your mistakes, then you are focusing on the bad behavior and you will get more bad behavior. If you change your belief to say to yourself, “Well, there you are again ___________(whatever your mistake or issue). What lesson are you trying to teach me today?” then you are not fighting any longer with yourself. You are accepting yourself and when you accept yourself, you change your beliefs. Change your beliefs…change your thoughts… change your feelings…change your behaviors. This is the key to making those changes that will last a lifetime, those changes that we so want to make in ourselves.
When we love and accept ourselves, all the parts and pieces of ourselves, we are better able to love and accept others just as they are. We understand that life is a journey and we each have our own lessons to learn on this journey. We demonstrate to those around us that we are able to care and love, because we first love and accept ourselves.
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”