Saturday, April 25, 2015

Self Acceptance For The Rest Of Us

I just read a book, that will remain nameless, that really pissed me off. This book purported to be about self and body-acceptance, but was actually just about weight loss. Um, if you have to be a size tiny and undergo plastic surgery in order to accept yourself, you aren't quite there yet, Sister!

I'm not there either, but, at least I don't pretend to be. And sometimes, in moments when the sun is shining just right on my daughter's hair, I'm there. When I've succeeded at making my five-month-old baby laugh, I'm there. And when the right word just comes forth from my fingertips, I'm there too. But that's the thing about self-acceptance, it's not all or nothing. It happens in flashes, and in moments, sometimes so fleeting that you could almost miss them.

I've had my fair share of feeling the opposite of accepted. I remember being told to watch how many grapes I was eating, and to wait at least five hours between meals by well-meaning family members who were clearly not the most sensitive, or nutritionally-wise, people. I was teased over my weight, especially since I had the misfortune of a nickname, "Hayl," that rhymed with Whale. At that time, I didn't realize that to be called a whale was actually a huge, pun intended, compliment. It's hard to find a more intelligent, sensitive, and intuitive creature than Whale.

Interestingly, animal medicine teaches that Whale's message to humans is to love ourselves, something that we humans find incredibly hard to do. Whale also bridges two worlds by swimming underwater and breathing above land, teaching us to explore different forms of reality, and to bring consciousness to our dreams. The powerful sounds that whales make resonate healing and love to all within earshot. How different might my experience have been if someone had shared the true magic of Whale with me during those difficult times? How might I have become empowered, instead of ashamed, by being associated with this beautiful creature?

The good news is that it's never too late to have a happy childhood. And it's certainly never too late to learn to love yourself. But, as Anne Lamott says, loving yourself is an inside job. It cannot come from a certain weight, size, salary, house, car, romantic interest, or level of education. It can only come from within, and even then, it's a message that needs to be repeated about a zillion times before it can make any headway with TCV, (The Critical Voice). TCV is kind of like JTV, on all the time, and very expensive. Except, instead of costing money, TCV costs something much more valuable, your Self-Esteem.

And yet, when we learn to recognize moments of beauty, we solidify, amplify, and multiply them. When we can see ourselves as more than our Earthly bodies, we catch a glimpse of our true nature, which is astonishingly beautiful. Even if there are things about ourselves that we wish to change, it is essential to love those things first before real change can occur. Our wounds, our fleshy bellies, and our moments of impatience are the "Wholes"(see what I did there?) through which the light can enter.

I once read, that it is our very imperfections through which we can offer the most to the world. Whether by way of an imperfect weight or a dis-ability, or being a woman in an all male field, it's these perceived wrongs that make us the perfect balancing agent for a society that relies all too heavily on a mass delusion of perfection. Instead of tipping the scales even further toward compliance let's be different. Let's shine the light of love on those parts of us that society would have us believe are unworthy. Because as the great Martin Luther King, Jr. said,


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