During my decade as a Hypnotist I have worked with thousands of clients who come in looking to build their self-belief or self-confidence, lose weight, overcome a phobia, lose unwanted habits, become more successful or effective in certain areas of their lives, but it’s extremely rare that someone walks into my office and says “I’d really like you to help me accept myself”. When I suggest that self-acceptance would be helpful as part of their process of change it’s often met with real resistance.>
However when we accept ourselves, it feels really good, it’s like we’ve called a truce with ourselves.
So if acceptance feels so good for us then why the resistance? I believe the answer is motivation. We use our lack of acceptance (feels like self-punishment) as motivation to get us to do, not do, be, and not be what we think we should. Many people believe that if they accepted themselves as they are, they wouldn’t change or that they wouldn’t work on becoming more of who they want to be. Let’s use the example of losing weight, if I suggest working on self-acceptance as a useful part of the process for a client wanting to lose weight they will often initially rile against it – thinking that I mean they just accept their weight and live with it, however the opposite is true, if we relentlessly hate our weight and bodies during the process of attempting to lose weight it makes it much more difficult to do so – what we resist persists!
Typically we judge ourselves unfavourably with the hope it will motivate us to change, does this work? Sometimes, but only short term, most of the time it causes us to feel bad and the energy we use in punishing ourselves saps the energy we need to make the desired changes, and it can become not only counter-productive but a vicious cycle of self-punishment and guilt. However if we can be kind to ourselves during the process and accept ‘this is where I am now but I would like to feel healthier, fitter and slimmer’ (using the example of weight loss again) it provides a way forward that not only works better but feels a hell of a lot better too!
Contrary to popular belief accepting something about yourself doesn’t mean you don’t want to it to change, it simply means that you are accepting who you are now and your own process of change, acceptance actually allows change, it says “I’m ok now even before I reach my goals’ (how much better does that feel than ‘I am hideous / bad / an unworthy person until I get ‘there’’?)
When you begin to accept yourself the way you are right now, you begin a new life with new possibilities that simply did not exist before, because you were so caught up in the struggle against reality that that was all you could do.