How do you feel when you catch sight of yourself in the mirror? Do you smile at your reflection? Or do you notice the inevitable array of flaws and imperfections that make us all too human? Have you ever noticed the feelings that arise when you look at yourself?
To put the question in a different context, how do you think you’d cope if you were cast adrift on a desert island with no other human beings for company? Assuming you had enough to eat and drink, how would you cope with the total isolation?
The questions are not about your ability to survive the physical challenges of providing shelter and security for yourself. They’re about your ability to endure the challenges of living exclusively with yourself and just yourself for company!
At one level, we can immediately appreciate the discomfort of enforced solitude. Humans evolved to function in discrete social groups, with a strong sense of inter-dependence and mutual support and co-operation. We are, after all, social animals. That’s why solitary confinement has so often been used as a punishment in prisons. It is undoubtedly a testing experience.
And the underlying dynamic of the problem is to understand how comfortable you are with the person who looks back at you from the mirror.
The problem of course, is far more complex and fascinating than the simple issue of your physical appearance. It touches on the deeper question of who we think you are. It asks you to look more deeply at your sense of self. And it demands that you learn to look at yourself without judgement or criticism in order to see more clearly what you’re really dealing with.
You can probably appreciate the usefulness of this refreshing new level of objectivity in terms of assessing yourself. Take a deep breath. Make a simple decision to dispense with the old habits of judgement and free yourself from the habit of feeling disappointed.
Look without fear at who you are.
We’re all going to find more than our fair share of faults and weaknesses. There’s no value whatsoever in pretending to be perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist within the span of human experience.
The starting point to this exercise is to look clearly upon yourself – and accept whatever you see. If you want to make changes to your behaviours, your thoughts and your feelings, this is where you begin.
When you learn to accept yourself completely, a number of distinct advantages emerge from the experience. Firstly, you’ll find that any changes you might wish to consider for yourself will be easier to implement without the weight and drag of negative judgements. Those negative feelings create an unexpected level of attachment to the characteristics you wish to change. Acceptance reduces any friction associated with change.
Secondly – and perhaps more significantly – you’ll discover that you’re more likely to accept others when you learn to accept yourself. Most of our views about others are based on projections we make from our own hearts. By accepting ourselves and letting go of the pernicious habit of judging everyone and everything all the time, we create space for a more rational and objective understanding of the people around us.
This is where some of the most interesting and unexpected changes show up. In our relationships. This does not mean that we have to accept inappropriate behaviour. But it does introduce a kinder and more understanding perspective in our dealings with ourselves and thus to everyone else we encounter on life’s great journey.
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.
There is something extraordinarily powerful to be found in the presence of real acceptance. It’s a liberating and joyous experience that lifts the spirits and fills the heart with joy. We should never underestimate its value, both in terms of its power to help and inspire others and in its positive influence upon ourselves.
Today’s the perfect day to smile back at the face in the mirror and acknowledge that you might not be perfect. But it’s important to feel that you’re accepted and that’s the starting point for becoming a better, happier version of yourself.
The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Life is very much an emotional experience and we are all deeply affected by the quality of our relationships. We also have the opportunity to be kinder to ourselves and to be more accepting and understanding of others. And that begins with a simple act of self-acceptance. So, the message in this post is one of a better life, improved relationships and a better way of experiencing life and all its gifts.
If you found these ideas helpful and can appreciate the power of bringing a refreshingly honest perspective to your life, please feel free to share this post and encourage your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances to realize that they also possess the potential for improvement. Let’s be a force for positive change in the world. Let’s help everyone to rise above their limitations and enjoy greater levels of freedom, happiness, inner calm and success in all areas of their lives.
Together, we really can make the world a better place.
Greg Parry created The Wellness Foundation and the Cognitive Empowerment Programs specifically to help people master their stress, overcome their limitations and explore the power of their true potential.
If you’re struggling with stress and looking for greater peace and calmness in your life, the answer’s right here. Enroll in one of our life-changing Courses right now and discover how you can turn down your stress and start to enjoy life to the fullest. Make today the day when your life starts to get better.
You can contact Greg and explore our websites at:
Your personal resources for a happier and more successful way of living