This is a topic near to my heart because honestly, I struggle with acceptance. I have often felt that if I accepted something it cemented it in concrete & I couldn't change it. Boy am I glad that that is not true. I'm going to share with you my process of accepting things & how it has helped me make better decisions for myself in the long run.
We all have them...parts of ourselves that we aren't very proud of. These are the perceived weaknesses that our family of origin, society, school teachers, those we looked up to etc gave us. We also subconsciously accept messages from people even when they don't speak things to us verbally. We pick up their body language, tone of voice, & energy. This tells us far more than the words that come out of their mouths...even if those words are "I love you".
This can be particularly difficult for those who have survived trauma (neglect is also trauma). We tend to read nonverbal cues so that we can react before our safety is compromised. I remember learning to do this as a child. I thought it kept me safe for the most part. I didn't realize the damage that still occurred although I felt I had managed pretty well given the circumstances.
So exactly how does one dig through all of the messages...even the ones you think are ok because they keep you on your toes but won't let you relax & rest when needed? I wish I could give you some magical potion that would alleviate the hard work it takes to change that internal dialogue but I can't. It took years to form all of those messages, thoughts, & beliefs. It is a part of your self concept, even though it's not true. So it takes time to actually figure out those messages & then begin to replace them with true messages that are supported by your choices to better yourself. Thank God that our brains are programmable & it won't take years to start seeing results from your consistency. We can unlearn hurtful things & learn helpful things.
Some people may not even know the messages that are there. If that is the case then your actions are your best indicator of your subconscious thought process. How do you act in situations that do not mirror back to you that you are worthy of consideration & understanding? Do you find yourself asking why do I keep going through this? Why can't they just change & see the effort I'm putting in? Why am I always the last to be considered? Why do I always have to do the right thing while everyone else does whatever the hell they want? I'm tired but I don't know what to do. Chances are you are in a loop of unworthiness. You don't see your own value & so you end up in situations where others don't either. I think one example we all can relate to is work environments that do not promote a healthy work/life balance. The mantra that I hear so many of my coworkers repeat is, "They don't care about us. They are trying to work us to death." The reality of the matter is that the company is in business to make money & you are simply a means to that end. You have to value yourself enough to leave that type of environment when you notice that it is toxic. Easier said than done right? But Why?
Lots of survivors (some who have suffered significant abuse) are long suffering...this is not always a good trait. It takes TREMENDOUS discomfort for us to leave a situation. Even when we logically know that we need to leave that job we won't. Why is that? It is familiar...we choose the pain that is familiar because the fear of the unknown is far to much to bear in our minds. It mirrors back so many times when we felt we were going to be annihilated by changes we couldn't control. At least with the crummy job I have control right? It's predictable & dare I say safe... I don't know about you folks but I crave predictability & safety. Even when an environment may not be the best for me. I say with my mouth that I want better & I genuinely have that desire but when I move to change, the program running in my brain sends up a high alert that I'm about to compromise our safety by stepping out into the unknown. It then goes about it's business of keeping me locked into what I perceive to be safe & comfortable. I realized I believed that if something wasn't as bad as what I came from then it wasn't bad at all, I could deal with it. Work on saying to yourself how you really feel about situations, including that crummy job! Then figure out how you can move out of it in your own time.
Changing your thoughts is simple but it's hard. It takes a lot of dedication to stop a thought EACH time it comes up. The good news is that if you miss it sometimes you can keep going forward & not ruin your efforts. You must first begin by accepting the truth of exactly where you are without the stories about you being a bad person or it not being "so bad". You truly are doing the best you can with what you have no matter what the drill sergeant in your head tells you. There are very few of us who want to be in pain every day & you are reading this post so I have a hunch you are trying to be better. The truth is we stay there because we don't know how to get out of it. Oh & stop dismissing your very real struggle because you think you have it better than most. Your pain is your pain & it's valid. You don't have to stay there but you have to accept that you are there before you can change it. Might as well do it now! Listen to yourself...you have a lot to say that you don't share with others.
Practical Steps to Accepting Who You Are:
Be honest! You cannot change what you are not honest about.
Ask yourself is this something I want to work to change.
Reflect on how you can change. Is it a completely internal job that requires you to develop some coping skills to face what you have to face? Journal your true thoughts about it.
Reach out for help if you need it. Sometimes we need extra support with things. There's nothing wrong with that. We are all human & need it from time to time. Don't go it alone if you don't have to.
Make a daily practice of allowing your feelings to be. Yep you heard me...if you are going through a painful situation you are supposed to be upset & hurt. Trying to power through those feelings without feeling them & letting them move through you will not help you to feel better. They will pile up & come back to visit you later on. In order to heal it, you must feel it.
Make up your mind about it. If you are going to accept it, remind yourself each time it comes up until it sticks.
I hope you all get something valuable out of this post. We are all dealing with our own battles that are difficult. Make sure you take the time to heal. If you don't, I can promise you from my own experience, your mind & body will force you to. If you need support reach out to me, I'm here to help in any way I can. Just visit my services page to get started.