By Rev. Lauri Boyd, Minister, Unity of Columbia, MO
“Even if I am unconsciously engaged in an orgy of judgment and criticism, as soon as I become aware, I simply return to the present moment without further criticism or myself or anyone else…I do not judge the judgments or resist the resistance.”
Living Originally: Ten Spiritual Practices to Transform Your Life by Rev. Robert Brumet
When we use the term “self-acceptance” in its everyday meaning, we usually mean something like this: I have an ideal (or good-enough) image of what a person should be, and I have an image of myself that is consistent with that ideal. Unfortunately, this means my self-acceptance is conditional. Whenever I fail to live up to the ideal, my self-acceptance goes out the window.
The practice of Deep Self-Acceptance, is not about comparing myself to an ideal standard. It is simply, “the unconditional acceptance of my present moment experience, whatever that experience may be.” (p.49) When engaging in this practice, my intention is to be fully present to each experience without resistance, without making up a story, without attempting to control it.
That said, I know that at times I will react, resist, judge and make up stories. When this happens, I simply accept this experience, too. I do not judge the judgments or resist the resistance.
It is also important to consider what this practice is not. Deep Self-Acceptance is about accepting our internal experiences. It does not mean acting out these internal feelings in an unconscious or harmful manner. It also does not mean staying in an external situation that is harmful to me. Accepting myself deeply is not about knowing I am right. If I find myself attached to a need to be right, I consider if there is an internal experience I am resisting. Deep Self-Acceptance does not mean I enjoy every experience that arises. Acceptance is not the same as liking something.
When I have deeply accepted my internal experience, I create a space of possibility for greater clarity and more freedom of choice.
For example, there is a universal human need to feel loved. Jane’s preferred way to feel loved is by spending quality time together with her partner. John’s preferred way to feel loved is through acts of service. One lovely summer day, John holes up in the garage building a table. Jane feels more and more frustrated that John is ignoring her. Eventually, Jane decides to take this feeling of frustration into meditation. As she sits, she becomes aware she is feeling unloved. Accepting this awareness, she realizes she is resisting the experience of John spending the day in the garage. It dawns on her that she has limited her own ability to feel love to one option – John spending the day with her. She decides to open up to the infinite possibilities available to her for feeling loved. She takes a cup of coffee and a cookie to John in the garage and takes in the love expressed in the beautiful table he is creating for her.
Have you had an experience of deep self-acceptance that was transformative for you?