Finding self-acceptance

Insight from Thriving Women

Writing Contribution by Laura Brassie

We need to talk about self-acceptance. There’s a lot of talk out there about body positivity, positive affirmations, and building our self-esteem. And those are all good things. But I also think they can lead to an attempt to coat every aspect of our lives in Polyanna-ish positivity, regardless of the situation. They lack depth. Underneath the surface-y “self-love” of positivity is something deeper: self-acceptance. It’s understanding ourselves for who we really are. It is affirming and encouraging ourselves, but it’s also owning up to our mistakes, realistically reflecting on our choices, accepting accountability, and intentionally seeking growth.

Laura Brassie

Why Does Self-Acceptance Matter?

I believe that self-acceptance is essential to having a solid identity. And having a identity is essential to being a well-developed human being. We need to know where our identity is founded. If it’s in the opinions of other people, if it’s in our current career, our talents, our physical beauty, our relationships, we could lose it. Those things can change, like it or not. Self-acceptance and identity have to go deeper. We have to understand ourselves as individuals on core emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels. And we have to accept the realities of that, good and bad.

The problem is that we often can’t even get to positivity, let alone self-acceptance, because of how we process emotionally tough circumstances. What do I mean? Well… an emotionally tough circumstance (let’s call it an ETC) is anything that triggers your personal insecurities. The circumstance could be a legitimate hurt or insult, or it might not. We often perceive situations inaccurately because our emotional brains take over and don’t properly assess the situation. And when we don’t process the situation correctly, we end up leaving our minds vulnerable to all kinds of assaults against our self-acceptance. Let’s talk about how that happens and how we can change it.

women mindful identity

Rational Mind vs. Emotional Mind

When we encounter an ETC, our brains start working overtime. Let’s use a simple example that can end up unraveling me at times. Sometimes I’m shopping and grab a pair of pants in the size I usually wear and try them on, only to find that they are too small. This immediately starts triggering the body image part of my own identity. My brain starts working in two ways: rational mind and emotional mind.

Rational mind represents the facts. Right now, while I’m trying on these too-small pants, my rational mind is telling me well guess you’re too big for those, get another size and move on. Seems simple enough, but rational mind doesn’t take one really big thing into account: my heart.

That’s where emotional mind comes in. It’s the part of us that comes from feelings, and it’s essentially the lens we use to view the facts. These lenses generally come from our past experiences and our insecurities. During this same scenario, my emotional mind is going crazy. How have you gotten so fat? You’ll never fit into the clothes you like. You’ll never look the way you want. You’re not attractive. No one will want you now. Time to shop in the maternity section permanently, you fat whale. I bet half the stuff at home doesn’t fit now either. You’re a failure and you’re unloveable.

Whoa.

When written out like that, these statements probably sound a bit ludicrous. But we seriously say stuff like this to ourselves. Emotional mind is the part of us that really feels, but it can quickly get out of control and out of proportion.

When we let Rational Mind rule our perspective, we tend to cut out our feelings altogether. We don’t really reach a point of self-acceptance, because we never let ourselves get that deep. When we let Emotional Mind take over, we tend to blow things out of proportion, make incorrect assumptions, and condemn ourselves. What we need is a way to blend these two to reach a perspective that is both forgiving and realistic.

The Solution: Wise Mind

When we successfully blend Emotional Mind and Rational Mind, we get Wise Mind. Wise Mind allows us to process our emotions, while running them through the lens of logic. To practice Wise Mind, take each Emotional Mind thought and ask yourself, is this true and is this relevant? Does a pair of pants really have anything to do with whether or not I can be perceived as attractive? Nope. Is it fair or realistic to make “always” and “never” statements when one little situation pops up? No! It is even remotely realistic to take a pair of pants and let them define whether or not I will ever be loved or wanted? Heck no! Getting into your Wise Mind can help you slow down and process what’s really going on when you’re having such a strong emotional reaction.

Ask yourself… what is the deeper issue here? What is going on in me that I need to address? What is truly important in this situation? Will this matter in 5 years? Am I viewing this situation with a balanced and realistic perspective?

Wise Mind is not about wearing rose colored glasses, but it does allow for realistic positivity and self-acceptance.

hiking nature

How Wise Mind Helps Me Find Self-Acceptance

Practicing Wise Mind has helped me in so many ways. It helps me speak truth to myself when it comes to my body image, and pursue true health. It helps me avoid blowing conflicts with my S.O. out of proportion. It helps me view my performance at work realistically, and pursue progress over perfection. Most importantly, Wise Mind helps me understand and live by an identity that is not built on the shaky foundation of opinions and expectations. It helps me remember that I am still me, despite that change in job or relationship status. It has definitely helped me think through what really matters to me and base my life around things that last. In the midst of solidifying my identity, I’ve been able to experience self acceptance.

The Wrap Up

Self acceptance goes so much deeper than having self-esteem or telling yourself nice things. Self acceptance… the kind that is real, raw, genuine, and enduring… is a huge part of having a solid identity. Utilizing Wise Mind to process ETC’s is one simple but effective therapeutic technique that I use all the time to help keep my emotions in check and maintain a positive perspective. Keeping my emotions in check, maintaining and positive perspective, and developing a more realistic, enduring sense of self (rather than the negative, shaky me that used to reign supreme) has helped my self-acceptance. I hope that you’re able to incorporate Wise Mind into your own life and ETC’s that you encounter, and I hope it leads you to true self-acceptance.

• • •

References. http://www.linehaninstitute.org/research.php.


About Laura.

laura brassieLaura is a professional mental health therapist and founder of Ivory & Pine, a blog about all things intentional living, particularly self-care and mental health. She is passionate about helping people maximize their potential, embrace their identity, and clarify their purpose. She loves French press coffee with a little too much creamer, hiking through the Rocky Mountains, her Midwest roots, and dabbling on the ukulele. She currently lives in Colorado.

 

Connect with Laura at www.ivoryandpine.com, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter

 

Comments

comments ()

Powered by Facebook Comments

Leave a reply

  1. Kaye
    June 7, 2017, 7:10 EST

    It’s quite long but it’s worth it! I do agree with you. Self-acceptance has been a struggle for me. Especially now that I decided to proceed to law school while my batchmates have already landed stable and high-paying jobs. I’m envious but I keep telling myself that what I’m doing right now is part of God’s plan for me.

    • MightyD
      June 7, 2017, 7:28 EST

      Kaye! I’m so proud of you that you are honoring who “you” are! Self-acceptance isn’t always easy—as we are accepting our strengths and our weaknesses. We are learning to love all that we are as unique individuals! Keep us posted new friend. I believe you’ll find joy in your journey and realize self-acceptance is a lifetime practice! Congrats on law school!! xo~D

  2. Nazrin
    June 7, 2017, 8:31 EST

    This post is relative and so important! It so hard getting through to ourselves a midst the voices telling us who we are and what we should be. We have deafen ourselves to every one elses voice and just tune into our own.

    Absolutely love this post!

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

    • MightyD
      June 7, 2017, 9:11 EST

      I love that last sentence you wrote Nazrin!!! Yes!!!!! xo~D

  3. Erica @ Coming Up Ro
    June 7, 2017, 1:42 EST

    What an AWESOME piece – I never really thought of the connection between logic + emotion like that, coming to meet at this wise middle point of truth. I love it!

    Coming Up Roses

    • MightyD
      June 7, 2017, 2:02 EST

      Laura really brought us some great insight! Thanks Erica! xo~D

  4. Lauren Abigail
    June 7, 2017, 3:04 EST

    This is such a great post! I struggle so much with my emotional mind taking over my rational mind. It has caused so many problems with anxiety, eating disorders, and other things. Lately, I’ve been trying to let what you described as my wise mind take over, and it’s helping so much! When I eat something that might not be the healthiest, my emotional mind comes in and tells me that I shouldn’t have because I’m going to ruin my diet and exercise, but my rational mind comes in to remind me that it’s okay to not be perfect, and what I eat doesn’t change who I am as a person. It’s been a battle, but I’m slowing coming to self-acceptance.

    • MightyD
      June 7, 2017, 3:23 EST

      Lauren, I love your second to last sentence, “…but my rational mind comes in to remind me that it’s okay to not be perfect, and what I eat doesn’t change who I am as a person.” Hey lady, I too suffered with eating disorders and confusion about physique. Through lots and lots of practice learning self-acceptance (which by the way, self-love and care helped me through this), I realized its me who was uniquely created! It’s me who has a unique voice to share to others. I thought I had to become something else — something ‘special’ I had envisioned in my mind, in order to feel fulfilled or to fulfill my purpose. But YOU ARE ENOUGH RIGHT NOW. YOU have PURPOSE RIGHT NOW. xoxo!!! Thanks for your authentic share! Here for you new friend! xo~D

  5. Rachel Harrell
    June 7, 2017, 8:28 EST

    I love this post! I’m so sick of everyone talking about positivity. That just treating a symptom rather than treating the sickness. We need to be talking about acceptance as a society way more! Self-acceptance is the key to becoming the best person you can be!

    • MightyD
      June 8, 2017, 9:00 EST

      Hey Rachel! I hear ya lady and agree, self-acceptance should be discussed more (which is one reason I began Be You and Thrive). I do have to raise my hand and share that positivity (choosing a positive mindset vs a negative) has really helped me get to this place of understanding—as well as a lot of self love and care. Thanks for your comment!! xo~D

  6. Dedra
    June 8, 2017, 7:51 EST

    Great article. I could see myself in that dressing room with those too-little jeans. And afterwards, eating something fattening-because–why not? I’m working on this but it’s so hard.

    • MightyD
      June 8, 2017, 9:01 EST

      Dedra. I suffered through an eating disorder and physique complex for decades. I would ‘punish or abuse’ myself by not eating or eating to much vs. loving myself and caring for myself through my difficult feeling and emotions. I’m with you in regards to practicing self-acceptance on the day to day. Love you girl! xoxo~D

  7. Taylor
    June 8, 2017, 10:28 EST

    I love this piece! So well written, Laura! I have personally found that once I was able to accept myself, everything else in my life fell in place. My hope is that EVERYONE one day loves themselves 🙂

    xx, Taylor (thesprinkle.tayloramead.com)

    • MightyD
      June 8, 2017, 11:51 EST

      That’s beautiful Taylor!!! xo~D

  8. LeAnn Rodriguez
    June 8, 2017, 12:55 EST

    I always love your posts and find them very inspiring to get to the heart of the matter. It does a person good to take the time to look deeper in order to address what is going on. I have been working a lot on self-acceptance. It’s been a lot of work, but worth it.

    • MightyD
      June 9, 2017, 9:11 EST

      LeAnn! Indeed, I agree that taking time to be introspective and dig deeper into who we are honestly = freedom and true living!! It does take work, but we both have seen the reward!! Thanks for your comment! xo~D

  9. Jessica
    June 8, 2017, 4:12 EST

    i like the idea of a wise mind. i’m definitely on the rational side though

    • MightyD
      June 9, 2017, 9:12 EST

      I’m so thankful that we can practice this daily Jessica!! xo~D

  10. Kelsey
    June 8, 2017, 9:04 EST

    This was such a great post! I definitely struggle with this daily! Thanks for the great read! xo

    • MightyD
      June 15, 2017, 1:36 EST

      I’m so glad it resonated with you Kelsey! xo~D