I’m a true believer that we must be willing to accept ourselves completely before we can meet someone elsewhere they are. Learning how to accept yourself takes time. It’s hard work. And yet it’s so beautiful when you’re on the other side. Here are three impactful ways to work towards accepting all of you.
We are all harder on ourselves than anyone else. It’s true. It looks a little like this:
You lose your phone. Five minutes later you eventually find it, but it took two other people and the “find my phone” app on your Apple Watch to locate it. After a big sigh of relief, you call yourself stupid.
You catch a glimpse of yourself in the changing room mirror and notice your pants are a little more snug than usual. You tell yourself “You’re getting fat. Gotta get back on the bike.”
You ask your coworker if she’s pregnant again (never, ever do this!). Her response “no, I’m wearing my maternity pants because I haven’t lost all of the pregnancy weight yet.” You fumble for some way to retract what you said and quickly walk away.
Sound familiar? Believe me, we’ve been there, and sometimes the inner critic still creeps back in. Here are a few suggestions for you to combat any downward spiraling:
Any time you hear that inner voice saying negative thoughts, tell it “not right now.” Hit pause on the self-criticism before it even gets started. Instead when you notice you’ve put on a few pounds, tell yourself “I look great!” and leave it at that. No excuses, no negative self-talk, no beating yourself up. Got it?
We’ve all created this vision:
Of what being a parent will be like
Of feeling your baby kick for the first time
Of how it will feel to hold your baby after delivery
Of what late nights changing diapers and breastfeeding every two hours will be like
We’ve created this narrative that plays over and over again, and gets dimmer each time we greet aunt Flo with tears streaming down our faces. It’s an endless downward spiral into DPO, TWW, BFN, baby dust wishing in Facebook groups, and over-analyzing every single ping or twinge we feel. We get so attached to the end result that when it doesn’t match our expectations, we suffer.
Can you release your tight grip over that pesky vision? Let go of the deadline that you must get pregnant by X month so you’re not pregnant during the hot summer months. Stop obsessing over every little ping or twinge you feel and cross-checking them with your Facebook group. Redirect that energy and attention elsewhere. Read Infertility: The Absolute Obsession with Getting Pregnant for more specific ways to shift your attention.
We’ve all made mistakes. We all have things from our past we wish hadn’t happened. But they did. Know that we are all doing the best we can with the information and tools we have available at the time so there’s no reason to beat yourself up over it. Plus, it’s in the past. You can’t change it now, can you?
Also, you wouldn’t be where you are without those decisions and lessons. Those experiences make up who you are right now. You can try to sweep them under the rug. You can try to disregard them as unimportant. You can keep beating yourself up over them. OR you can take some time to forgive yourself. You can take some time to accept yourself, all of the things you want to forget, all of the things you try to avoid, all of the things you wished hadn’t happened. And at the same time, you can accept all of your gifts, all of your strengths, all of you.
Here’s a quick exercise: Take a few minutes to reflect on the very things you wish to forgive yourself for. What information or tools did you have at the time that informed your decision? What are the lessons you learned? How have you applied those lessons? What changes might you make to be more forgiving towards yourself?
Now wrap yourself in the biggest hug as a gesture of self-acceptance and appreciation for your past experiences that shaped you into the person you are today.