Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Accepting Yourself

How much of your own life have you missed? The simple act of living takes us away from so much of what lies underneath our surface self. Over the course of our lives, the world continuously thickens the shell around our true nature. Traumas from childhood, responsibility for others, money troubles, difficult relationships, etc… create the armor we build around ourselves thinking it will protect us from further harm. Sadly, much of this ends up shielding ourselves from ourselves, preventing us from being truly happy.

Our culture or perhaps human nature leads us to define ourselves based on external standards. Growing up you may have heard; “You should be more like him.” Or; “Why don’t you act more like her.” Inadvertently, this is often how the process of loosing ourselves begins. There is seldom any malice in the actions, just well intentioned caretakers trying to help us learn to fit into society. Those charged with caring for us, especially when we are young, are really just trying to save us from the pain of not fitting in to a highly structured culture.

I am not advocating anarchy or implying that societies do not need rules and certain social norms to function, they do. It is simply that by allowing ourselves to be blinded to our true nature through believing that we must be “just right” that we rob ourselves of our own love. Measuring up to the ridiculous stereotype of what we should be like, look like, act like, think like, is impossible. We all have flaws that cannot be simply airbrushed like a cover shot of a magazine.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I was thinner, taller, faster, etc?” My guess is that everyone has at one point answered, yes. A yes answer does not make you abnormal. We all do this several times a day in one form or another. Our problems arise when we begin to identify ourselves with our faults rather than our true nature. “I’m an angry person.” “I’m a sad person.” “I’m a fat person.” Is this really all you are? None of these are who we are inside. Each is a condition that we have learned to identify ourselves with.

Self love and acceptance is the only way to find true inner happiness. How wonderful it would be to look at yourself and drop the negative story. Opening our heart to ourselves lets the light of the world shine into the spaces we have kept so dark. Self love is not narcissism. Narcissistic people use the false love of themselves as a defense against their inner suffering. True self love is not selfish.

An often quoted teaching of the Buddha reads; “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.


klahanie said...

Hi Roger,
First of all, nice to see another posting from you, my friend.
I have learnt in my life to stop comparing myself to others and live my life, the way I want to live.
I have challenged my traumas, I have confronted my 'inner critic'. Through all my trials and tribulations, through perceived obstacles, I have learnt that I am a good person. I love who I am.
I look for the goodness in others. This has made me more content with the world and more content with the world in my soul.
Thank you for sharing this, Roger.
In peace, respect and kindness, Gary.

YogaforCynics said...

Unfortunately, you can't turn on the TV or radio, read a newspaper or magazine, or visit a commercial website without being told you need to buy something to fix something that's wrong with you. Then, the Buddha wouldn't have said that if the same problem wasn't ubiquitous back then, when none of those things existed. Okay, so much for the societal critique....

David said...

Dear Roger,
Just thought I would take this opportunity to comment as I think what you say is important.
It is surely true that the way to true happiness is "accepting yourself". For years, and through the awful machinations of an illness I couldn't control, I baraged myself with negative thoughts, and forever beat myself up by having unrealistic standards. As you say, it is difficult to live in a society where we are constantly beset with images of "perfection"; with people who are fitter, brighter, richer than ourselves. The psychiatrist Oliver James has written about this, calling the phenomenon "affluenza"- to my mind, a fitting description.
However, with time, I have come to like myself a whole lot more than I used to, and this has been invaluable in my recovery. It seems, as klahanie says, it is only when you begin to love yourself that you begin to spread that positivity to others and reap the rewards for it. And I thoroughly agree that this is not a selfish thing, just a necessary one.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
P.S. Thankyou for following my blog, "A Day in the Life". I hope you find it interesting.

dcrelief said...

Your post has made my day! Thank you. In love and peace, Dixie

Bruce Coltin said...

Settling down with our true selves is a lot harder than it should be. I'm glad I found this blog.

Carole Anne Carr said...

How wonderful, but so difficult to accept at a deeper level. Carole.

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Hi Gary,

Your willingness to share your journey has been an inspiration for me. Our greatest challenge is overcoming the inner critic inside each of us.

Thank you for your support and friendship.


The Buddhist Conservative said...

Hi Dr. Jay,

Marketing agencies have a purpose in telling us we need more to be the person we are supposed to be. It is only by realizing that marketing hype serves only the purpose of profit for whoever they are representing that we can see this is not in our best interest.

True happiness comes from within us, not from what we accumulate.


The Buddhist Conservative said...

Hi David,

Affluenza is a great term for the disease of believing we need "things" to make us whole. We all desire certain comforts in life but when material cravings define our lives, we no longer live for the joy that comes from inner peace. We become blinded by the need for more regardless of what we have.

Thank you for sharing the insights and positive message on your blog. It is easy to get caught up in negative feelings as I watch the state of the world and you and so many other positive bloggers remind me that there is still much good in the world.


The Buddhist Conservative said...

Hi Dixie,

Thank you for the kind comments. You are a wonderful and positive voice in a world filled with negative and frightening images.

Bless you and thank you for your friendship.


The Buddhist Conservative said...

HI Bruce,

I'm so happy you stopped by. Settling down with our true nature is a challenge given that much of the feedback we receive every day is negative. The rewards we receive when we slow down long enough to care for ourselves are far greater than anything we can imagine.

Thanks for the comments,


The Buddhist Conservative said...

HI Carole,

Difficult, yes, but so worth the effort. Removing the layers of negative self reveal the highly polished gem that is the true self within each of us. Your children's books expose this quality in you through your desire to brighten the lives of others.


Carole Anne Carr said...

Roger,I think it is because many of us have grown up with the idea of original sin, and it's a hard belief to live with.
I know this was added by the Christian church at a later time, added to what was originally a simple faith.
Then there was added the doctrine that by grace alone one could be saved, and the damage has been done. Carole.

timethief said...

During my late twenties I awakened and became conscious during my struggle with the big C. I examined all the negative messages that I had been inculcated with as a child. I clearly saw how these negative messages undermined my self esteem. I recognized that we were being bombarded with advertising aimed at making us buy into the ideas that we were not good enough, not whole, not the best we could be so we would buy products and services we did not need. Thereafter I jettisoned these beliefs and turned my back to the belief system I had been raised in and left it.

Time passed and I met my other, my shadow self and had to come to terms with my real flaws all rooted in a lack of compassion for myself and others. I came to understand that I was still attached to certain outcomes and adverse to others. The struggle to integrate my shadow self and my "self" followed. The light dawned when I recognized that happiness was a choice made between my ears. I began to develop compassion for myself and began to love myself. This natural progression enabled me to feel compassion and love for others and to open my heart and mind and learn how to live consciously.

I do not claim the I have arrived. I claim only that I am awakened and mindful most of the time. When I fought my battle with the big C I gave up the practice of reliving my past and projecting my future. I recognized doing so led to suffering - my own and that of my loved ones, my family, my friends. I learned how to dwell in and appreciate the now moment. I learned how to be grateful and how to express that gratitude. I learned how to recognize when I was off the path and in the ditch and how to get back to the now.

These are hard lessons to learn. Lessons that must be learned and confirmed over and over again in this life, in this body and in the lives and bodies I have yet to live.

How sad it is that we parents find ourselves backsliding and buying into the delusions of samsara. Admist the tension of living in societies that teach our youth to reject their selves we struggle to to teach them self acceptance, to teach them how to make the happiness choice, to lead them to recognize their true compassionate inner nature is Buddha seed that they may cultivate and nurture it, so it may flower and bear fruit.

Without doubt compassion is our Buddha seed or true nature, our potential to become a Buddha, and it is because all living beings possess this seed of self acceptance and compassion that they will all eventually become Buddhas.


Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty,LLC said...

This makes me think of how hard it is to be a parent. God knows I love my girls but I am not sure if I am raising them to truly love themselves. I try but then I know I fail so many times. I won't ever give up though.

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Hi Carole,

The wonderful thing is that it is never to late to find the true self.


The Buddhist Conservative said...

Dear timethief,

Thank you for the lovely and heartfelt comments. Western culture does not teach us the importance of self love. We are inundated with images that cause us to believe that we do not measure up. Often the greatest awakening comes when we have to face our mortality.

I am happy that you have come through your difficulties with a better understanding of what is really important. It is not fair that some have to endure illness such as you have yet we are given little choice when it happens.

Modern time make it difficult to know the right message to give our children. I have never been more frightened for the future of our children than I am now. I have to remind myself that the present moment is the only one that matters and spend my energy trying to make a difference with the options in front of me.

Your own self work and your willingness to share your journey with others is making a difference in the lives of people you will never meet. This is the gift you give the world.


The Buddhist Conservative said...

Dear Shane,

The only failure is that of giving up. It is impossible to always know the right thing to do as a parent. It is a delicate balance of giving enough love while guiding them to be self reliant individuals able to make good decisions on their own.

Your desire to teach them to love themselves gives them more advantage than you know.


Carole Anne Carr said...

Yes, very true, but such a hard learning process. Hugs...

Tess The Bold Life said...

I'm telling all on twitter about this. Way to go on exactly what I needed to hear today!

A jewel shining through said...

I've just come across your posting on this and it truly resonates with my soul at the moment. I am relearning who I am, so thank you. Namaste, Julie x