Top Tips for Self - Acceptance (Part 1)


I do not like


I do not like the way my facial hair goes ginger.


<< I do not like that I paid 40 pounds for those


28 inch black jeans and they will never fit me


again.


I do not like that it would probably now be a


struggle for me to button all of the buttons


on that green shirt.



I do not like that actions of mine in the past have massively hurt certain people.


I do not like that my university record reads,

Stranmillis University - dropped out

Irish Baptist College - dropped out

Stranmillis University (2) - dropped out


I do not like that the word "fat" is etched on to my right leg.


I do not like the fact that I am not as patient as I'd wish.


I do not like that I gossip.


> > > >


There are ,many things that I don't like. I will never like them. I am not going to suddenly be empowered to love them. And I am ok with that. I don't need to like them. I can accept them though. Draw a line. Not invest (waste) energy into disliking them and ruminating about how they make me feel.



Self - Acceptance is ridiculously hard. Especially in this society. In this society where you don't have to accept yourself. In fact you're encouraged not to. You're constantly encouraged to change yourself. Cover bits you don't like. Filter them out. Best foot forward all the time. The message is rarely accept what you have.



What's the big deal?


Who cares though right? I mean what does it actually matter anyway? Why should it matter if you like yourself? Just get on with it. Suppress those feelings, man up and stop being so analytical. You've got an exam, university interview or "6 week ripped to shreds plan" that needs your attention.



But you see it does matter. When we don't accept ourselves we are less likely to stand up for ourselves. Less likely to prioritize our own well being. Less likely to insist that we are properly treated.



I went through a long battle with self- acceptance. More often than not I lost. I didn't just not accept myself. I hated myself. Body? Yes. Character? Yes again. And the more I didn't accept myself the less I cared about what happened to me.



I just assumed I would fail anything I started. Convinced myself I deserved to feel the way I did because of mistakes I made in the past. I stopped caring that I was damaging my body through an endless cycle of binging and vomiting.


Over and over I played out my own cyclical self-fulfilling destructive narrative.


"Darren, start something."

"Darren, you'll probably never finish it."


Subconsciously self - destruct with eating disorder behaviors.


Inevitably not finish the something I started.

Reinforce the narrative - Darren you're a waste of space.



The less I accepted myself the stronger that hatred became. The less I cared about others. The more disconnected from the world I became. The more I give up, the more things I stopped attending and so on and so on.



Self Acceptance was a long journey. A painfully slow one. My hope is that your journey to self - acceptance wouldn't have to take as long as mine. That you wouldn't have to mess up so many times before you'd get there.



That is why I have written this blog. A blog in 2 parts. Top tips for self- acceptance. I want them to be both powerful and practical. Things you can actually do, and actively enforce in your life. Not just grand ideas that make good soundbites but you'll forget them in ten minutes.



I will however begin with the 2 "grand ideas" that have been the foundation to my own self- acceptance. Without these, I would not have the capacity to enforce any of the more practical steps.


Assess your own Activity


Whether you are in work, or school or college you are no doubt constantly being assessed by other people. It might be a lecturer or a manager or a parent or a spouse. But a range of people will be queuing up to assess your activity. To grade your assignment, to monitor your progress and to tell your if you've passed or are passing, failed or are failing.



We've become accustomed to measuring our own activity and successes by the reaction that they garner from other people. I used to do a lot of public speaking when I was a teenager. For me a good speech was determined, not so much by content, or my own appraisal but by feedback.



If people told me it was good then it was good. If people didn't say anything or didn't give encouragement, I assumed it must have been a bad speech. I beat myself up, went away and sought to be better. I lived for positive assessment from other people. It was a disease.



You do it too, I bet you do. Consider this example.



You've just ran your first ever 5 km race. Your time is not spectacular, your face is like a tomato but you did it. And actually you're quite proud of yourself. As you should be.



You post something on social media. Not craving attention but just a small post. Because you're feeling good. It has very little engagement. (Could be for any number of reasons.) You understandably feel discouraged.



Your best friend spent the evening baking brownies. She shared a post about her brownies. Everyone was fondling over her post. A ton of comments, lots of likes, people calling for her to open her own brownie business - suggesting possible business names and so on and so on and so on.



You begin to compare your achievement to her achievement.



In the space of just a few hours you now actively feel worse about yourself. Not because you've done anything wrong, or because your achievement has changed but the source of assessment has changed.



When you crossed that line you achieved something. You felt good. You were proud of how far you had come. And now you are going to bed pissed off because you're not getting the recognition that some damn Dr Oetker cake mix brownies did.



Strive instead to focus on how you felt when you crossed that line. Strive to let that good feeling you had about yourself determine the quality of the whole experience. You know what it took for you to be able to achieve that 5k. You know how hard it was for you. Strive to let your own assessment of your own activity empower your own acceptance.


Understand that "I accept" and "I like" are different


We spend much of our time and energy thinking about all the things we don't like. We regret the things we haven't achieved and the choices we didn't make. We ruminate and ruminate about the things we don't like. We talk about the bigger breasts we'd like to have (well I don't) or the straighter hair or the whiter teeth or ----insert your own insecurity here ----



You ask someone what do you actually like? Many people have the snap answer. "I don't like anything." Chances are they have invested so much energy into all the things they don't like that they have never actually even asked the question. "What do you like?"



There has been a recent shift in media around this. A message is beginning to filter through that you should love yourself. All of yourself. No matter what your imperfections are. You are beautiful, you are a goddess, embrace yourself, shine, glow.



In my honest opinion (it's just my opinion) much of that message is bullshit. If I have acne on my chest, I am not going to love it. Some people are overweight. Some people are unhealthily underweight. If you are morbidly obese I don't believe that "love your curves" is necessarily the best message to promote."




I think it is actually dangerous to promote a message of just carte blanche "love yourself." It's creating an almost impossible goal. In no other aspect of life would we encourage someone to love something or someone that is not good for them.



Acceptance and liking are just not the same thing. I accept that I have to go to work to make money. I don't like it but I accept it. I accept that I have to clean my car every once in a while. I don't like it but I accept it.



It's just my opinion. I don't like my thighs, or my skin or my stomach. But I accept them.

Some people are overweight and some people are underweight - these are just matters of fact.



I accept that at this point in my life I am not kind enough to other people. I accept that it is where I am but I don't like it. I want to improve it. I want to change. Accepting something doesn't mean you accept it forever and never strive to be better. It means you accept it for now because it's where you are. And where you are is ok.



These two grander ideas have formed the basis of me being able to get to a point where I accept myself. Below are the more practical steps I take to try and maintain this level of self- acceptance.


  1. Do not look at my phone for at least one hour after a social media post.

  2. Turn off Facebook and Instagram notifications. I will see them when I see them

  3. Wear the clothes that I want to where when going to social gatherings.

  4. Set realistic short term goals.

  5. Eat the food I want to eat at the time of day I want to eat it.

  6. Honestly answer any question someone is interested enough to ask.

  7. Just ask people to do things. Such as share this post. Worst they can say is no.

  8. Stop and recognize achievements. Not by how they would appear to others. But by how they appear to me.

  9. Sit in a bar in Newry, order one drink and write a chapter of my book. Just because I want to.

  10. Chase after something I'm passionate about, whether other people believe in it or not.

  11. Sleep when I need to.

  12. Accept that I will never be perfect

  13. Let go of things that I cannot change.

  14. Remember the present moment is the only moment I have

  15. Do my own thing in the gym.






I do not love myself.

I do not want to love myself.


I accept myself,

Finally.


I hope that you find the strength to do the same


Darren


******

Thank you so much for reading and for continuing to support this movement. If you haven't already I would be so grateful if you would join my email subscriber list and stay updated on everything we are trying to achieve. The subscribe form is at the bottom of each page.

Your support will really help.

******

Darren Shields

Healing through Honesty

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