It’s funny because as I sit and think of self-acceptance many things come to mind. Over the years I’ve had to find my way and myself. Growing up in a military family, I always felt out of place. I always seemed to arrive at a new base and be missing out. My peers had their groups, and I never quite fit in. I always thought it was because I arrived too late. They had been friends for years and I had to try to fit in. It’s weird because I’m one of those people who picks up accents easily. Not that I fake it or try to force it, just that being around people who speak a similar way rubs off on me. I think it was a subconscious way of trying to fit in.
When I think of self-acceptance I refer back to Brene Brown’s quote-
Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.
I used to think I was supposed to be someone based on the expectations of others. I didn’t want to let people down. I didn’t want to not measure up. I wanted to prove people wrong. I didn’t want to be a stereotype. I wanted to be something other than a statistic. At some point, I had to strip away the labels and get clear on who I was. What felt right to me. What path I wanted to follow. What made me who I am. It took a lot of soul-searching, time, effort, journaling, tears, and dedication. I’ve learned to embrace who I am and also learned that it’s not a one-time decision. It’s something I do every day.
An unexpected difficulty I’ve faced during my journey of self-acceptance has been the physical aspect. I never struggled with weight growing up. I was always very active and participated in sports year-round. It wasn’t until I was in the darkest depths of depression that I began to get heavy. It’s been a few years that I’ve no longer struggled with depression but have yet to lose the weight. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized I needed to learn to accept myself physically as an act of self-love. If I never end up losing the weight, does that make me any less deserving of love, happiness, and fulfillment? The thing about my weight is, I felt like it didn’t accurately reflect how I felt on the inside.
I started to think about it and I realized that’s not true. Who I am on the outside is the exact reflection of who I am on the inside. One of the first things people say to me is how much they like my smile. The thing is when I smile it radiates directly from my heart! So they’re getting a glimpse of my inside through the outside reflection. My weight is no longer due to stress eating, it’s due to loving my home cooked meals prepared with love and choosing to invest more time writing than exercising. My relationship with exercise has changed. Instead of exercising expecting to lose weight and get thinner, I do it to promote and maintain physical health without any weight-related expectations. While I haven’t gotten down to my “ideal” weight I’ve successfully not gained weight in nearly three years.
In an effort to cultivate my self-love and accept my body, I began doing yoga- naked. I would light candles and sit in the darkness in my room in front of my full-length mirror in the soft candle light. As I did yoga, I quietly said things out loud that I appreciated about my body even though I didn’t like how it looked. For example, my arms that were strong enough to support my weight in downward facing dog. My thick legs and full hips that supported the weight carried in my expanding belly as I carried two babies to full-term. My plump rear to sit comfortably in the most uncomfortable of places and fills my jeans out just the way I like. After doing this a few times, it was really hard for me to see things I didn’t like in the mirror.
I’m just a fuller version of my body. The body I had before my children lit up my life and wrapped their little arms around my full hips. The body that previously had time, energy, effort, and interest to be at the peak of fitness. My body is a representation of my priorities. While health is important to me as is maintaining my body, my weight isn’t a direct correlation of my health, my choices are. So I choose to continue to accept myself daily. At the end of the day, self-acceptance comes down to the small choices I make every day. Each choice is either in alignment with who I am or it’s not. To continue to cultivate and live an authentic and fulfilling life, I choose to make the decisions that feel right regardless of how they fit into societal norms.
While I’m not 100% comfortable with my body, I am more accepting of it and every day I love it more. I’m more comfortable in my writer’s body than I have been in years. Looking at myself through my children’s eyes has also helped me be more loving and accepting of my body. They love me without even thinking about my weight! They love me for who I am, just because I’m their mom. I too am learning to love my body for what it is, simply for housing my character, personality, spirit, dreams, and ambitions in physical form.
Please remember this is my personal reflection for week 3 of The Kindness Challenge. If you have yet to post your reflection, please do so and leave your link in the comments of this post.