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October 21, 2011

Self-Acceptance & Why It Doesn’t Mean “Giving Up”

By Jillian Teta

Life is one big experiment, isn’t it? We form a hypothesis, make a plan, test the waters, and get results we may or may not have predicted. I love working with people. You hear so many interesting and fabulous stories, so many insights and so much pain. It’s as if looking into a mirror sometimes.

One of the major themes I hear when working with clients, from Jillfit clients to those at the clinic, is this undercurrent of “not being good enough”, being “unlovable”, or waiting for some external situation to manifest so that we can finally be happy. It is so easy to relate to all of these things and these stories we tell ourselves and others, because if we sit with them long enough – we can find them in ourselves, or some variation on the theme.

In the fitness/contest/training circuit, the body is the “lab”. We look at it, analyze it, find what is “wrong” with it, and go about making changes. We are continually comparing ourselves to others (or to an image in our mind of how we think we should look) and ruthlessly judging ourselves for falling short.

We think that we need negativity – guilt, jealousy, fear or anger – to motivate us to make change. You kind of hear that in pop culture too – “I take what the haters said and I turned it into my strength”….but hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself!

There is this quote that I love: “when I argue with reality, I lose, but only 100% of the time”. One day I was doing sprints, which for me are like a spiritual experience, and the meaning of this quote hit me like a ton of bricks.

For me, this quote spoke of self-acceptance.

In this moment, right now, this body is perfect. Your body is perfect. It has the exact amount of lean mass, fat mass and water on it that it needs. How do we know? Because that is what IS.

Accepting this, accepting what the body is and how it looks right now, is not the same thing as not caring about what happens to the body or not initiating change. You still do the things you need to do to get to your goal – your difference is in your thinking about your body as it is in this very second.

We are making body change to get some benefit – whether to improve our health, our athleticism, our aesthetic, or to prove to ourselves that we can. This benefit – this end result – is steeped in our own self-expectation. In our minds, we believe that when we “arrive”, the benefit will be ours and we can be what? Happy? Loved? Accepted? Yet, if you ask ladies who have attained their goal, won a trophy, gotten what they “wanted”, you very well may find that it was not quite good enough, that the short-lived satisfaction is replaced again by the gnawing voice inside that reminds them how inadequate they are, and the cycle starts again.

We use this big thing – this self-imposed expectation – to keep us from the very thing that we are seeking! It’s the thing we already are. We already are perfect, in each our own uniquely wonderful ways….

If we can catch a glimmer of that, that drop of self-acceptance, we could move forward completely fortified and in a place of security and knowing that everything we have in this moment is enough, and we are doing all we can to be better and better.

From that place of self-acceptance and owning our own unique perfection – there is no place to go but up and up and up! And in that clarity, you are perceived by others as being clear, and you are an example to follow, and you help the whole world. And you eat your clean eats and you sprint hard and condition hard and you do it with a grin and a skip in your step because you’ve got it going on.

Self-acceptance does not mean you lounge on the couch eating bon-bons (unless you want to!) Self acceptance makes you are a rocket, a heat-seeking missile who can’t miss the target, because it’s already been nailed. Because you are no longer using those negative emotions to punish yourself under the guise of “motivation”, a situation that only serves to keep you from seeing you as you are.

My own personal “battle cry” is to end the war within myself. How can there be any other way? How can I expect other people to stop beating themselves up, to stop fighting, for wars to end and to live in peace if I can’t do it with myself? I think this quote by a certain smarty pants sums it up quite nicely: “be the change you wish to see in the world”. If we want peace, if we want happiness, we go inside and undo the ideas that would keep us from those things.

Related: Resiliency

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