I Love Me: Self Worth (Part 2: Acceptance)
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are.
A key to the concept of self worth is understanding that in order to properly appraise yourself, you must accept yourself for who you are. The concept of antiques come to mind. I often like to window shop for houses, and one of my interests is to "window shop" the most expensive homes in a given area. I'm talking million dollar houses, with views, land and more. I would always be curious to see these people's tastes, what kinds of fixtures would they have, what kind of art was on the wall, and what kind of furniture they decorate with.
What I would find almost without fail was that these million dollar homes no doubt could probably have the most high-end luxury furniture from the most cutting-edge designers, but instead they seem to have old, unstylish, "grandma furniture". In my mind, it didn't make any sense; why would you have such a beautiful house, but ruin it with this ugly furniture?
But, it wasn't until one day, when we were newlyweds just getting our on our feet, when we needed a couch. We happened to run into a family that was downsizing their parent's house and were willing to give away what they described as a 1960s orange couch. My husband rented a small U-Haul and made our way over to where their house was, and we saw this mustard yellow, dog hair-covered, straight from an "Austin Powers" movie two-piece couch set.
We were pleasantly surprised; it looked sort of retro, and nothing is better than "free-99", so we started packing it in. On our way out, one of the homeowners' daughters, a kindly middle-aged woman, showed us a picture of herself on that exact couch when she was a little girl. She gushed that her mom had taken care of it and reupholstered it over the years, and it was still in good working order. We left, not only feeling pleased that we got something for free, but that we got something valuable.
Up until that point, my husband and I were looking online at IKEA furniture, hoping one day we could afford one of their sets. But, by the time we got home and cleaned off the dog hairs and made it our own, we both knew we would try our best to hold on to that couch. All of a sudden it made sense. These rich people on Zillow had "grandma furniture" in their homes because they understood and accepted these furniture pieces for what they were. They were from a certain time and a certain place that cannot be returned to. They may be "ugly" according to today standards, but they are valuable, because "they just don't make them like that anymore."
I Am Antique
By definition, you are an antique. From the moment you were born, no one has been made like you before, or will be after. No one will ever be able to be born at your birth time, at you birthplace, by your parents, and have all the same life experiences that you have had up to this point in life. You are unique and original, and instead of trying to fit into the boxes of what is deemed perfect by today's manufacturing standard, you must understand that you are an antique.
You might have a few scuffs here and there; you might have a chip in on your leg or owners who didn't see your value. Oy maybe they did, but didn't know how to care for you. Regardless, it doesn't change the fact that you are an antique and you must be appraised as such.
The one trick to antiquing, or any art for that matter, is finding the things that people often pass over because they do not recognize its value. Often people miss their signs of value because they don't understand them. They reject certain artistic embellishments because they don't understand what the artist was trying to do. There are stories of people finding valuable pieces of artwork or furniture at flea markets because someone thought it to be trash. They placed value in the piece and accepted it for what it was.
It is important to understand that if we fail to accept or place value in ourselves as we are, we will lose out on recognizing our worth. Acceptance is a powerful building block of establishing self worth. We must accept our shortcomings and things we find to be ugly within ourselves in order to realize that we are truly in possession of masterful artwork.
Happiness is Self-Acceptance
I recognize this is easier said than done. So, what are the steps to accepting yourself? I believe the top reasons for lack of self-acceptance is idealization (perfectionism) and moralizing (black and white thinking). These are two known cognitive distortions that lead to depression. These are often developed from how we were socialized to think. When we have been trained to see almost everything as objectively good or bad, we leave no appreciation for the nuances of gray, or all the other colors that come in between. By allowing the world and ourselves to just be, observing it as it is, casting no judgement, we allow ourselves to appreciate the beauty in complexity.
In realizing that opposites, the abnormal, and imperfections are there to create balance, you can come to see the value in being outside of the "normal". And, if you look beyond the surface enough, you realize that there is no normal. Everything, every person, every situation, is unique and nuanced and should be respected and honored as such. When you truly understand this and remove the standard of being abnormal/exceptional from yourself, you'll find unabridged value and acceptance in you as well.
Another reason we have a hard time accepting ourselves comes from the habits we have as a culture to compare ourselves to others, causing everything to be a competition, which only fosters a sense of discontent. If we continue to judge ourselves on a likert scale against everyone else, we will never be content. Instead, if we feel we must look at others to get a sense of our place in the world, we should instead aim to contrast ourselves. By this I mean we should seek to find differences, and make it our goal to celebrate them, because no two persons are the same and should not be judged that way. Instead, we should aim to see how we are different, and find why that difference is an asset. Everything in life has a purpose; you just need to take the time to understand what it is.
Surrender to yourself
Resistance is futile. The sooner you come to accept what is, the quicker you can stop wasting your energy on a losing battle. It is was it is. You are who you are. You are antique. To resist acceptance of yourself and your journey is to keep yourself at arms length from how valuable you truly are. You are a work of art that deserves to be appreciated, restored, displayed and celebrated.
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