In David Benner’s book The Gift of Being Yourself he writes:
“Self-acceptance and self-knowing are deeply interconnected. To truly know something about yourself, you must accept it. Even things about yourself that you most deeply want to change must first be accepted — even embraced. Self-transformation is always preceded by self-acceptance. And the self that you must accept is the self that you actually and truly are – before you start your self-improvement projects!”
Yikes. At least that’s my first reaction. But, it’s true isn’t it. Why do so many of our self-improvement projects fail? How can I become more compassionate, healthy, kind, etc. without realizing how I lack in the first place?
I’m not talking about taking a trip down misery lane and berating ourselves for our inequities. That’s not the goal or the focus. It’s more about self-awareness. Being aware of who we really are is the starting point. And, we might find out some things about ourselves that are surprisingly beautiful and good.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of mother I am. When I measure myself up against culture’s standards I don’t pass. When I compare myself to my mother and mother-in-law I don’t pass, depending on the criteria. But comparison isn’t the starting place.
If I start with what kind of mother I am and what kind of mother I want to be, I find that I’m actually more aligned than I thought I’d be. Perfect? No way.
I want to be an integrated woman, one who brings her whole self to her family and models that for her kids. One who loves deeply and respects her limits and the limits of her family. I want to train my kids to be independent, thoughtful, compassionate and kind. They’re only 2, 5 and 7 years old, but I’m modeling the best I am able to be these things.
If that’s the kind of mom I want to be and am on the path to becoming, can I fill our schedule to the brim and be involved in every committee myself and every activity for them? Absolutely not. So I don’t measure up to the super-mom standard. But that’s not what I want in the first place.
This is unique to me, and you have your own unique design and desires. Only you can become self-aware and self-accepting of yourself.