All my life, I’ve been a self-improvement junkie. Show me a seminar touting personal growth and it was like throwing raw meat to a ravenous lion. I’d hungrily pounce on it.
But then life went into lockdown, removing a myriad of distractions. That’s when I noticed something disturbing—how brutally critical I am of me. This wasn’t a new insight, of course, but I began to see how awful it felt.
So, I made a conscious decision. Rather than pushing myself to improve, I decided to practice Radical Self-Acceptance, loving myself, warts and all…especially the warts.
Don’t get me wrong. I still aspire to be better. But I’m finding a remarkable sense of freedom and well-being as I learn to fully embrace my shortcomings and my strengths, my achievements and my failures, without fear or false humility, without shame or recrimination.
Admittedly, radical self-acceptance can be quite challenging. Especially with those ubiquitous images on social media seducing us with the illusion of what’s possible when you strive for perfection.
But perfectionism is our worst enemy. Those who fear falling down or looking foolish, find endless excuses not to act lest they be exposed as flawed or inadequate. Perfectionism inevitably produces paralysis.
Practicing radical self-acceptance isn’t just tolerating your imperfections. It means owning the truth of who you are: a pure spiritual being in a flawed human form. It means reminding yourself, daily, that you are lovable just as you are. That your perceived blemishes and blunders actually adds to your appeal and makes you, yes, more endearing. Radical Self-Acceptance means you have nothing to prove, nothing to hide.
Perhaps A Course in Miracles says it best: “When you become willing to hide nothing, you will understand joy.” And I would add, you will know true power.
I believe Radical Self-Acceptance –being unapologetically you–is the very essence of power and a crucial task facing women today. Every time you put yourself down, you stab yourself in the back by undermining your success, eroding your confidence.
Here’s what I’ve been doing. Whenever I pass a mirror, I look myself in the eye and affirm something positive: “I love you, Barbara;” “You are so brave;” “I am really happy.” I think it’s working!
What trait do you constantly criticize yourself for? What would happen if you practiced radical self-acceptance of that trait? Leave me a comment below.