How To Cultivate Unconditional Self-Acceptance (including journal prompts + a mirror work exercise)
I've been based down in Papamoa (a beach suburb near Mount Maunganui, about 3 hours drive from where I base myself in Auckland) for the past week, house and dog-sitting for one of my besties, and let me tell you--I think it's in my cards to move here. So right now, I'm manifesting a dream home (or a house sit) near the Mount. Watch this space.
I hosted my fourth self-love workshop over the weekend, down here in Papamoa, and it was all kinds of magical. I don't share a lot of what goes on at the workshop as it's something you really need to experience first-hand but there were a lot of tears. There always are. One of the attendees who was particularly emotional throughout the workshop messaged me the next day and said "I had the best sleep I've had in a long time even if I did spend 90% of the workshop crying. It really surprised me how much I shared yesterday, I certainly didn't go with the intention of opening up, but glad I did! It was exactly what my soul needed." This was a woman, a mother, who had been made to believe her whole life that tears = weakness.
The same themes keep coming through each time I run it:
"I'm not smart enough"
"I'm not worthy enough"
"I'm angry at myself"
"I doubt myself"
"I can't say no to my ex"
"I don't feel like I deserve happiness"
"I'm unsure of my path & I'm not fully trusting in it"
"I'm scared to ask for help"
"I'm scared to push back on people"
Sound familiar? If it does, this blog post is for you my darlin.
I chose Radical Self-Acceptance to be the first module of my mastermind program, because it really is the first step in any kind of personal transformation. Whether you want to: call in a new job, a relationship, overhaul your health or your finances, improve your sex life--you first have to accept where you are right now. You have to accept all of the mistakes you've made along the way, the wrong choices, the misplaced anger, the "oh, shit" moments, the uncertainty, the lessons.... All of it. Because when you don't accept your past, you hold onto resentment, anger, shame and guilt, which are all children of FEAR. And you guys know by now, that what you focus on expands, and so if you're consistently thinking fearful thoughts, you'll attract more things to be fearful of. Not f*cking fun for anyone.
How do I learn to accept myself?
Some people, if they are filled with self-hatred, will find it really difficult to quantum leap to self-love (this is particularly potent in the body image space). So start with self-acceptance being your goal. And then once you're at self-acceptance, how can you like yourself a little more? And then.......love yourself a little more? Progress, not perfection. Here are 12 steps that can help build the foundation of self-acceptance:
Set the intention (to shed what isn't helpful/to silence the inner critic)
Celebrate your strengths
Get rid of any energy drainers & people bringing you down
Surround yourself with uplifting, positive people
Forgive yourself (you were doing the best you could at the time)
Silence your inner critic (shhhh mean girl)
Release unrealised dreams (e.g. becoming a doctor and married at 25. They probably weren't even your dreams to begin with)
Give to others (service is selfless, and reminds you of your goodness)
Know that acceptance is not resignation
Speak to your highest self (visualisation is a great way to do this)
Be kind to yourself (stop judging yourself)
Practice self-compassion (even if you don't believe it at first, fake it)
Why do some people struggle to accept themselves?
Our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be. One of my workshop attendees felt like being too self-loving was seen as "too cocky or confident". Where the fark did we learn to dim our light so much is what I want to know? Look at a newborn baby. They hardly have body image or self-worth issues. They attempt to walk 5347 times before they nail it. You never see them sitting back down and saying "this is too hard!" "I shouldn't eat that!" Granted, babies can't talk, but if they could they wouldn't say that.
We also live in a society (and economy) that runs on making people believe that they are not enough/not smart enough/not pretty enough/not doing enough. You only have to look at the advertising in cosmetics, 'skinny teas', cosmetic procedures, gyms, clothing. It's an industry born on scaremongering and diminishing a woman's self-worth.
Many of the women I work with have no self-worth, because a parent or an ex-lover has hammered that belief into them from an early age. We are highly suggestible beings; it's in our nature to be programmed. And so how do we change the program? By doing the work. Mirror work. Affirmations. Meditations. Journaling. Hypnotherapy. Working with a coach. All of these are forms of subconscious reprogramming work--the only way to truly change your beliefs is by choosing new beliefs. You are not your thoughts. You choose your thoughts.
Anna, what have you learnt about self-acceptance?
I asked the women in my mastermind where they were sitting this week on the self-acceptance scale; 0 to 10, and the majority of them were between 4 and 6. Fark. I can wholeheartedly say that my self-acceptance is (now) at a 10. Sure, there's physical aspects I'd like to work on (toning up etc) but I 10/10 ACCEPT me today. Yep, I could be more productive, and I still have some work to do on opening my heart with men; but I ACCEPT how I am right now and how I've been up to this point. It has all been a necessary stepping stone to where I am right now.
Try this: Stand in front of the mirror, first thing in the morning (pre-stimulus), look into your eyes and say "Anna, I love you, I respect you, I accept you, I am." Hold your gaze for 30 more seconds. Get on with your day and see how you feel. Repeat for 7 days. (Or 100.)
Here are some journalling prompts you can try:
What part of me am I not fully accepting?
Who have I not forgiven?
Are the actions I am currently taking supporting the life I am trying to create?
I hope that sparked something within you.
Speak soon, Anna xo