Last week I shared with you a small bit of my journey of going against the grain and courageously carving out a unique life. Today I want to share with you what was needed and required of me to create a path that veers off of mainstream, because as you probably have guessed it’s not always easy and has required lots of grit, grace, self-trust and courage, while also planting and nourishing deep roots of self-acceptance and compassion along the way.
In my 20’s, I felt something was wrong with me because I didn’t necessarily have the same values and dreams as the people around me. I wanted to explore, go on adventures, make mistakes, get messy, jump into uncertainty, and hopefully come out of it all knowing myself a bit better. I wanted to learn more about myself, about humanity, and the world. What were my dreams and desires, what did I deeply care about, what was my place in this vast world, and why did all of this even matter in the first place.
In order to venture off the beaten path I first had to accept who I was. I learned that I had to accept that nothing was in fact wrong with me because I didn’t want what I was told and taught to want. I learned that I simply was wired differently and that’s okay. It’s okay that my values were different. It’s okay that I wanted to live a life that I was excited to live. That I wanted to thrive rather than merely survive. That I wanted to share my small gifts with the world and live life with purpose and intention. I wanted to do meaningful work rather than watch money pile in my bank account, and have a compelling enough Why to get me out of bed each morning (especially on the mornings I didn’t feel like it). I wanted experiences, purpose, joy, and meaningful relationships.
So what can we do if we find ourselves not fitting in or feeling a pull to try out something new? Whether it’s moving to a new country, selling your house to travel around in a RV homeschooling your kiddos, downsizing so you can work less, listening to your body and eating what it needs rather than following a fad or restrictive diet, waiting to get married or have children, or creating boundaries with obligations and social events so you have more time for the things that truly matter to you; all of these require accepting yourself fully.
Self-acceptance looks like identifying your values and priorities of this season in life, having self-worth and knowing you deserve a life that brings you joy, practicing self-compassion and kindness toward yourself, and being deeply rooted in who you are while knowing and accepting your gifts, your strengths, weaknesses and wounds along the way.
Here are a few things that have helped me with self-acceptance along this bumpy and often messy journey:
- Fully accepting and liking yourself: I have a confession. I am a people pleaser and I want everyone to like me. I know…..even typing that is sorta ridiculous, but it is a truth of mine and one that I’m working on constantly. Because not everyone is going to like me of course and why should they? I have learned that the most important thing is that I like myself. Do I like the person I am and becoming? And the answer most of the time, is yes. And this is what matters. I like myself in spite of my weaknesses, my pain points, my wounds, shortcomings and flaws. Just because I’ve accepted these parts of myself doesn’t mean I don’t try to change or improve myself, but I do it in a gentle manner taking one small step at a time, aiming for progress rather than perfection.
- Identifying your values and priorities that truly matter to you. If we aren’t aware of own personal values we can get caught up with the values of the culture we belong to and people we spend the most time with. Once you identify what your values are you can start living them today and discovering creative ways to include them into your everyday life, not when you have more time, more money, more success, more of something. These core values will anchor you and keep you on your path, especially when confronted with distractions, opportunities, and expectations. There are loads of activities online to figure out what your values are if you don’t know them. Here is a list that I have found useful to help you choose the 4-6 values that are deeply aligned with you.
- Knowing you deserve good things in life. Self-worth is one of those things that I will probably be working on for the rest of my life. Breaking news; most of us will be. We live in a world that sends us messages again and again that we are never enough. We will only be enough once we have (insert: 6 figure income, luxurious car, beautiful spacious home, up to date wardrobe, husband, seen as successful, promotion, slim figure, someone who chooses us and the list goes on). I’m here to tell you, you are already enough. You, right now at this very moment reading this, are enough no matter what your circumstances may be. You deserve nice things and to live a life that is yours. There is nothing you need to do, be, have, or buy to be worthy of this. Yes, the world’s messages are loud (and seem to be getting louder), but once we start believing we are worthy and make choices that reflect this, we can start to believe this truth little by little as we carve out a path that feels like home.
- Deeply rooted in self-compassion and kindness. When I started to accept myself fully (my values, shortcomings, strengths, fears, wounds and gifts), I learned how to speak nicely to myself overtime. I started paying attention to the script that was running in my head, and frankly, it wasn’t very nice. But with lots of practice and self-awareness, I started changing the script and the things I would say to myself so that my thoughts were life-giving. How we speak to ourself matters. It matters because our thoughts build us up, encourage and support us, and help us make choices that support our life vision. We can learn how to speak to ourselves with gentleness and compassion just as we would toward a friend. This doesn’t happen overnight, but I’ve found this to be one of the most important practices we can incorporate into our lives. And when we make choices that the rest of the world may question or may not understand, hearing our own voice of kindness and compassion really does make a difference.
I hope these ideas have served you. Please let me know if anything has resonated with you. I’d love to know!