- Be strong! Pull yourself together!
- Come on! Nobody else is behaving like you!
- You already said yes, why are you changing you mind? You should be more reliable.
- You are so impatient and short-tempered!
- You’ll figure it out by yourself. You don’t need any help; you are not a child!
- You did it again? Why are you not learning from your mistakes? Are you dumb?
- Don’t be such a loser! You don’t have any problems, other people have it much worse.
Can you relate to this type of self-talk? What does it achieve – encouragement? No, I don’t think so. Best case scenario, it leads to anger and frustration. More often than not though, it leads to shame and low self-esteem.
Diarmuid Lavelle is a therapist and Aikido master and is our wonderful colleague at M-Powered. He says that happiness and life balance begin with self-acceptance. Unconditional self-acceptance. You accept yourself even if you make mistakes or do things others may perceive as strange. This is not easy in our demanding western culture. But this approach is really liberating. So, today, I would like to challenge you to accept yourself, no matter what. To help you with that, please remember that it is totally normal to:
Have a different opinion
Even when everybody in the room thinks and speaks differently, you can still have your own opinion. And it doesn’t mean you are wrong. You are unique in your experience of the world, and your perspective is valid. It is also not your job to educate others, or “prove” your point of view. For example, I am a feminist, and people who have a problem with that perspective often expect me to justify it to them and provide facts and data to back up every opinion I have (e.g., on the gender pay gap). But that’s not my responsibility, and they are more than capable of looking up that information for themselves. I don’t need to justify why I identify as a feminist, and if they have a problem with it, it’s just that, their problem.
Hesitate when making a decision
This is especially hard when someone is waiting for you to make a decision. But don’t allow yourself to be pressured into making decisions when you are not comfortable that it is the right choice for you. People are different when it comes to decision-making. I, for example, could spend forever agonising over what to order in a restaurant, but will be very quick and definite in bigger decisions, such as changing jobs, certainly compared to others. Regardless of what you are like, you deserve the opportunity to weigh up your options and seek advice if necessary. It is ok to be unsure!
Sometimes, asking for help can be interpreted as weakness. Unless you are terribly injured, or something horrific has happened, there is an overemphasis on “sucking it up” and coping alone. No one wants to be seen as weak, and often we can feel that we are bothering others with our problems, or are not worthy of support. But let’s reverse this situation. How do you feel about helping others? When a loved one reaches out for help, and you are able to provide that for them, how does it make you feel? Most of us love to feel useful and generous with those we love, and are more than happy to help. It brings us closer together and strengthens bonds. Don’t deprive others of the opportunity to help you, and for you to become closer. It’s a win-win for everyone.
There is an old saying that if we learn by making mistakes, we should make as many mistakes as possible and become experts! This isn’t that far from the truth. It can be frustrating to make the same mistakes over and over. Every time I go on holidays, I pack too much and promise myself I won’t do it again while I’m pulling an overstuffed bag of untouched clothes back home through the airport. But every year, I do it again, and pay for the additional baggage! That’s a relatively harmless mistake, and obviously there are many habits and behaviours with much worse consequences, but the first step to addressing it is the same regardless: Forgive yourself. Accept how you are. Once you have done that, you can start to actually change your patterns.
Be fed up with someone or something
Everyone gets fed up and burnt out. And, of course, it’s easier to admit you are fed up of your boring job than, for example, your kids. This can bring a lot of guilt. But it’s perfecting valid. It doesn’t have to mean you are a bad person. It can just mean you are tired. We all get tired. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find that happening.
Change your mind
No matter what the situation, even if you are 90% through a process, you always have the freedom to change your mind, quit, or say no. Listen to your intuition, not the expectations of others. It sounds cliché, but so many times in my life I made the wrong decision because the right one would mean saying “no” when I had already said “yes”. I didn’t want to disappoint others. Eventually, I disappointed myself.
Want to be alone
Don’t feel like going to a party or being with other people? Do you ever want to just hang out in your room when others want a family dinner? This is normal. I would even say that it is healthy and necessary to be alone sometimes, and spend time with your own thoughts. Self-acceptance means that you are happy to be with yourself, that you enjoy being with your own thoughts and emotions. You are entitled to take that time if you feel you need it.
Want something but also be afraid
When I am in this situation, I can hear two voices in my head: One that really pushes me towards the task and one that pulls me away from it. For example, I recently had the opportunity to record my first online webinar with Marzena. One voice was telling me to jump at this opportunity, while another was telling me how daunting it would be. Which one wins? Well, it depends. Sometimes, I conquer my fears and do what sounds reasonable, sometimes I am too afraid. And I’m learning to accept this.
Go to a therapist
Therapists are there to help support your mental and emotional health. They have specialist knowledge, skills, and experience that can assist you in your personal development, in understanding yourself, in dealing with your limitations, but also fulfilling your potential. If you ever thought about going to therapist, it means that there is something you may need help with. If you had a toothache, you would go to the dentist. If you need help with your mental health, go to a therapist and get the expert help you deserve.
These are just some of the things we can be so hard on ourselves about. If you are worried if a thought or behaviour is normal, try not to focus on judging it like that. Instead, listen to your intuition and do what you can, in that moment, to do what is best for you.