Spring Forward Into More Growth
Spring is officially here, and we are springing forward into more growth for ourselves this year. Self-hibernation season is over for the year. The time for burying your emotions has passed. For at least the last two decades, there has been more research and emphasis on mental health, and with it comes the value of self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is the ability to respect every part of ourselves graciously, the good, the bad, and the neutral. This includes the physical and mental aspects of our own health and well-being.
It’s more than understanding we have to value ourselves before we can care for those around us. Self-acceptance is a major step in our own personal growth and maybe even takes self-esteem one step further. Because self-acceptance requires we acknowledge the ugly things too and accept that sometimes we fuck up.
I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy that you can’t refill someone’s cup when yours is empty. Or even that you should put on your own oxygen mask before you help others to put theirs on. And though they might be overused, it’s also a friendly reminder that we are human beings with needs too. We can’t help if we have nothing left to give. Sometimes, that last sentence is literal.
So as the flowers return, the trees find their leaves again, and spring is in the air, we have three tips to help you grow into your own self-acceptance.
1. No One Has it All Together
When I was a kid, social media wasn’t a thing. The world was smaller because we weren’t bombarded with sensationalized news every second of the day. And yet it felt so much bigger. We had the major benefit of being less connected to the entire world and all its problems. Which meant we had the time to go play until the streetlights came on. Cartoons were limited to whatever time they were played on television. Cell phones weren’t endlessly connected to the internet.
And we could not wait to grow up so the adults could no longer tell us what to do.
I’m not bringing this up to reminisce on the good ol’ days. Quite the opposite, in fact. Because we weren’t as connected, and emotions were not expressed to children, we lived in a state of misunderstood bliss. We swore adults knew everything, and the coolest part about growing into an adult would be that we, too, would know everything.
Be careful what you wish for. Because now that we’re here, and our kids can clearly see what we couldn’t, we realize that we’re all just making it up as we go. So why do we brutalize our own thoughts, decisions, mistakes, and significance if we can look around and realize that all the other adults around us are also making it up as they go? Even if they pretend they have it all together.
2. Speak Your Truth
It’s safe to say that our intentions hide in the truth of why we act or think in certain ways. Not only that, but guilt often plays a role in declining self-acceptance because we’re made to feel inferior, and society has taught us that inferior feelings are bad.
If inferior feelings are bad, then it’s easy to internalize everything, especially when we’re given a set of rules dictated by the people who raised us. Maybe those rules were passed along to them by their parents, and so on, but as our culture evolves, we must also consider evolving the values we place upon ourselves.
I mean, girl, are we really still hating ourselves for not looking like the social media filter created in someone else’s standardized beauty? That’s like believing standardized testing in schools is a valid metric for success, only to look around and see successful people who never even attended college.
You don’t need our permission, but we’ll give it, anyway. It’s ok. You’re safe, you’re valued, and even if that mistake from 1998 still haunts your dreams, you have survived. You’re still alive to tell the tale, and you are still worthy of love, light, and compassion. Most especially from yourself. So talk about it. Speak on it. Chances are, someone else will connect to your story because we all have one, even the dirty, ugly, hidden parts.
Radical self-acceptance means we’re not alone. It means that even through our mistakes and blemishes and social shame; we are still human beings spinning around on the same rock.
3. Feel Your Feelings
A lot of awful shit happen when we suppress our feelings. Though they’re something we try to keep in a neatly organized box in the back of our minds, never to see the light of day, they will always come out in the most embarrassing ways. Humans are social creatures, and we experience more than just joy. It’s ok to feel sad, angry, hurt, or rejected.
It’s ok if you need a therapist to teach you how to get to this point, too. Your feelings are valid. Uninhibited feelings can often teach us more about ourselves. Like why creating boundaries is important and why it’s so much fucking fun to give yourself over to pure, undiluted enjoyment. Yes, that means running through puddles on a rainy day or snuggling up to read with a hot mug of coffee.
When we stop muting ourselves, even if it’s only internally, and give ourselves permission to feel the good feelings and the bad, we release the judgment upon ourselves that tells us we’re not worthy of feelings.
And what’s more rebellious than springing into growth? Accepting every single thing that makes up who we are.