I have been blessed to encounter several people over the past few years who have spent much energy and time focused on the theme of self-acceptance. And I have learned that even highly practiced spiritual people (monks, nuns, spiritual leaders), find themselves repeatedly faced with what can be called the “inner critic,” “the voice,” “self-violence,” despite their practices and transformational tool kits.
I finally understand self-acceptance as the longest journey. Something that revisits even the most contented of us over a lifetime. The why I dream of walking across the country or completing a ginormous distance on foot. The what I am facing when I cannot sleep an entire night with tears until I write the voice down to get the words out of my head.
The cycle goes something like this: Meditate daily, find peace. Learn self-care, find balance. Go to psychotherapy, find peace. Go to Nature’s nurturing, find healing. Shine the light on the inner critic, endure hours of strong emotions, confusion, and give up meditating for a while because trying to hold the critic in awareness becomes too painful. Repeat.
Sometimes my dear wise one (daughter) absolutely stuns me with wisdom/insight beyond her years. I mentioned I was going through a period where I was really struggling with self-hatred. She said, incredulous, “You hate yourself? Is it mostly your physical self or your emotional self?”
I sat in silence for a bit, because I had never thought about it precisely that way. Emotional self? Physical self? We talked about the ways in which our culture tells women especially that everything we are is (physically at least) wrong, which on top of my personal body-specific experiences could contribute to the sense I have. She shared some of her experiences. All the while I know this is “story,” “cause and effect,” and does not get at what control we DO have over real acceptance.
For me, the voice is about being too broken to be loved. About a physically embodied “wrongness.” I know that no matter what loving being is in my life, until I can get further along my journey to self-acceptance, another person’s acceptance will not reach me. I will simply be deaf to it because the voice in my head is louder.
I had a chance to learn from this woman about her journey toward self-acceptance. I feel I can learn from her journey toward empowerment. At first I rolled my eyes, “not another ad for a quick weight loss scheme.” And then I listened to her approach.
She outlined the most reasoned, rational, no excuse plan she tailor-made for her own self by trial and error. And she did it all from a place of trying what worked and if that didn’t work, trying something different, all the while determined she would figure out how to be healthy. And acknowledging lifestyle change of any kind is difficult.
What I especially love is in the subtitle “PLAN FOR SELF-ACCEPTANCE”. She arrived at a formula I intend to follow using my own trial and error as guide:
70% food, 10% exercise, 10% planning, and 10% sleep.
It dawned on me, this is part of what I need. A plan. Not just letting myself be blown over by emotions or attached to story, but a plan.
So I am continuing my longest journey with a next step to lose 45 pounds (for the 3rd time in my life) in order to experience the best health this body can and start to maybe this time feel differently about my “embodied wrongness.” I know I need to do something different than the other times I’ve lost the weight. The good news is, I’m already halfway there, having given up dairy and alcohol and meat– intuitively following what I know my body needs. The bad news is, I know in order for me to be 45 pounds overweight as a vegetarian for 30 years/vegan for 1, I must need to change other habits, other figuring out what works in order to once again be able to stand comfortably in my own body and experience greater overall health.