I would firstly like to point out that the love I am talking about here is not narcissistic or egotistic. What I am referring to is an acceptance of who we are; our true nature, free from the ideas and perceptions of who we are or should be.
This is of course one of the hardest things in life; since there are so many influences; both externally and internally, that can stop us from even beginning this process let alone achieving it.
An Important Story
This reminds me of what a friend once told me that relates to this perfectly. He had heard that it was impossible to dislike ourselves, as we don’t know ourselves all we know about ourselves are the images and perceptions we have gained from others. And upon this creation we then begin to dislike the images we have formed and not our true self. However, very often we are unaware that they are not who we are and see them as the truth. I thought this was not only profound, but also very true.
We come to form an identity about who we are; sometimes this is to our liking sometimes it is not. This is typically constructed out of what other people have said to us about who we are or who we should be. And this of course comes from what has been passed onto them about what is right and wrong. This could be from family, friends, partners and even our society.
So it becomes clear that it is extremely difficult to get in touch with who we really are, as a result of all the pressure we experience from our early childhood and the society we live in, that is constantly influencing us.
Why Is It So Hard To Accept Ourselves?
I believe it is because we are born into an environment that is based on the need for approval, this then leads to a society that’s primary focus is approval and not self acceptance.
This need for approval starts in our early childhood, where it is a matter of survival and life or death. This is something that is of the upmost importance; when we are young and powerless, without the care of another we would die. The problems arise when this need for approval still carries the same associations for us as we get older. We then unconsciously see approval in the same way as we did when we were younger.
This can lead us to see that there are only two options; either compromise ourselves and become accepted or to follow our own truth or way and end up being rejected.
Self Acceptance or Acceptance From Others
So as we start from a place of having to please others it can be a struggle to begin to accept ourselves.
As the opinions of our caregivers were so important to our own survival we naturally begin to trust them more than we trust ourselves. We then learn to give more importance to the opinions and views of others, than we give to ourselves.
Constantly looking outside of ourselves to see if we match up to the ideas people have about us. There is also the other side of all this; after being conditioned and influenced by others for many years we will then begin to externalize this form of control and end up controlling our self
This will cause us to constantly judge and criticise ourselves because we don’t match up to what is classed as the ‘right way’. But what is the right way? And is there a right way?
The Blind Leading The Blind
The question is if we are looking outside of ourselves for acceptance from people that don’t accept themselves either; what are we really going to achieve? What can happens is that an inauthentic society is created; where out of ones own inability to accept themselves, causes them to assist in co creating a society that is superficial and lacks authenticity.
We end up trying to please something or someone that doesn’t exist, all coming from the ideas and perceptions that have been conditioned into us during our early years and from the outside world.
Perfection Or Imperfection?
So after being brought up and still having the same behaviour that causes us to rely on the approval and acceptance of others to determine whether we are good enough or not, the mind then goes to extremes.
As the mind works in polarities it will either cause us to pursue perfection at all costs; with this being whatever will get us the most approval and acceptance from others. Or we will feel completely imperfect and give up all together.
However each of these examples comes from a place of believing that we are not good enough as we are; that there is something inherently wrong with us.
We have all heard the saying ‘were only human after all’. This shows perfectly that we are only human; we are not perfect and we make mistakes. This doesn’t mean we are failures or unworthy of life or what life has to offer.
If we feel that we are unworthy because of how we were treated during our younger years or by others, it is only because they carried the same pain and were not aware enough to let go of this pain and change their behaviour.
We are all familiar with the need to be compassionate to others and to treat others with respect. I don’t believe we can ever be truly compassionate or respectful to others unless we have compassion and respect for ourselves.
And this is something that can’t be achieved if we are identifying with the often dysfunctional ideas and views that others have given us about who we are, who we should be and what we are capable of.
Seeing Ourselves For Who We Truly Are
The process of seeing ourselves for who we truly are or seeing ourselves in a functional way is incredibly important for our own psychological wellbeing. It will also help us to get in touch with our real dreams and inner calling in life.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.