New Year: Self-Acceptance Over Self-Improvement

Published: December 28, 2022
Category: Mental HealthMind/Body Well-Being

 

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Self-acceptance is more valuable than self-improvement. Before they tie the knot in the last stitch in an exquisite carpet, Persian rug makers purposely place a defective stitch into the weave to convey their humility and the belief that only God is perfect. 

These deliberate mistakes in Persian rugs and carpets are very difficult to spot and can be as subtle as different color gradations in a single flower petal. And the same is true with us humans. Something that might feel like a glaring character defect that you believe is visible to everyone may instead be providing you with a teachable moment to have greater awareness and a deeper appreciation for yourself and your struggles. If you start to cultivate an attitude of radical self-acceptance instead of focusing on drastic self-improvement, then you have a greater chance of becoming the best version of yourself you can be.

A 2020 study found that mindfulness that incorporates self-acceptance reduced the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for aid workers who were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mindfulness was also associated with experiencing post-traumatic growth—when a person experiences transformation that results in growth following a traumatic event. Buddhist monk Ajahn Chah said, “You see both sides, so you have peace. If you see only one side, there is suffering. Once you see both sides, you follow The Middle Way. This is the right practice of the mind. This is what we call ‘straightening out understanding.’”

Radical self-acceptance often means accepting the duality of ourselves—holding these two thoughts at the same time: “I love and appreciate myself for all I am, and I also honor my growth and desire to learn and improve.” In this way, we can straighten out our understanding of ourselves by accepting that we are wonderfully complex. Being perfectly imperfect is what makes us human. And as we learn to become more self-accepting, we can share this wise practice in our encounters with family, friends, and all of the people we interact with each day as we move through our lives.

I’m sending you strength and love. 

Soaringwords is the power to heal.

Lisa

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