If you’re anything like me, your past is filled with failed attempts at your seasonal definition of greatness, littered with triumphant attempts that amounted to nothing and genius ideas/plans that never launched due to inaction.
In my experience, the twists and lessons that life throws at you will either solidify or devastate who you think you are (or even who you think you want to be).
These twists and turns are what allow you to grow and eventually come to completely accept yourself.
I have seen both great success and great failure, have reached the “top” and hit the “bottom” of a preconceived notion of achievement — both cruising at six figures and scrapping the ash tray in my car for gas money. I have worked through a child born with a condition that confounded many doctors, and I stayed strong through the pain until it was resolved. I have had to process losing friends to tragedy, losing relationships in heart break, and battled the regrets connected to both.
These experiences have a weight connected to them — and that weight will either make you stronger through resistance or crush you under its pressure. In either case, both will cause you to question, doubt, and battle who you are or who you want to be.
January just closed out… are you the ideal you yet? You know — your ideal self. Your ideal self is taking the ideas and thoughts of the things you want to do or how you want to be, and actually becoming those things.
I actually find that very thought process of becoming your “best self” disturbing.
Why are there so many people that are either so unhappy with who they currently are, or don’t have a clue who they are, to the point that they say: I want to be somebody new?
When I was a younger kid (because I am still a kid, just bigger, with a beard and bills and many leather bound books) my mom would read me the Dr. Seuss book, I Want To Be Somebody New by Robert Lopshire.
It’s a story about a Seuss-size talking cat named Spot explaining to a couple of children how he thinks he would be happier if he were somebody other than himself. He transforms into many different animals but just can’t get it right – he fails at being an animal other than himself, and the children he is showing this trick to are not convinced that being something other than himself is the right choice.
Spot’s mantra throughout the entire story is, “I want to be somebody new.” In the end, the children convince him that he should just be himself — he is enough, he is special, he is worthy — and it’s what makes him special.
It can be difficult to feel accepting of yourself. After all, who knows your mistakes, flaws, and failures better than you? We can be our own worst critic, our own worst enemy, and even our own reason for not pursuing the progress that would make us the happiest.
How do you accept yourself?
It’s a weight question with a history as old as humanity itself, but over the years I have learned more and more about myself and what makes me tick and what it takes for me to truly be happy.
These are the three keys that have helped me learn to accept, and love who I am.
#1. Learn to let go of the past.
Like I said in the opening, if you’re anything like me, your past is filled with failures, inaction and lots of mess ups.
If you’re also anything like me, you have hurt others in the process of living your life, have made foolish decisions with your money, and have broken promises to yourself and others to change for the better. Welcome to being human!
The past has significance because your decisions are a reflection of who you are and what you want to be, but the past should never define who you are becoming. Learning to mindfully live in the present moment and love yourself now is a skill that few possess — but it is VERY powerful to a path of self acceptance.
When you come to the realization — “I made those choices and I am responsible for the consequences, but they don’t define me or my future” — you are actively accepting and loving yourself.
#2. Stop comparing yourself with others
Comparing yourself to others is a difficult habit to break for individuals that are highly driven to succeed and who set measurable goals to achieving that success.
Don’t get me wrong… a healthy level of self assessment can be a healthy exercise to help determine if the decisions we are making are accurate and healthy for us personally or professionally.
I determined at an early age that, compared to my peers, perhaps basketball is not where I should focus my energy for self development. Perhaps in a market assessment BlockBuster would have realized the competition is changing, and therefore they should too. This is not the comparison I am writing about.
The unhealthy comparison with others occurs when the assessment turns into discontent, and jealousy, making the exercise demotivating. This is the comparison that says, “Look how pretty /wealthy /successful /quick /funded /muscley /published /respected, etc that person is. I’ll never achieve that, so what’s the point of trying?”
Unhealthy comparisons cause you to devalue and even hate yourself. If you fall short of any measurement you impose on yourself and also view others are more valuable than yourself, a significant negative change in you mindset can occur.
#3. Remember that you are more than what you see.
Go deep with me for a minute. Close your eyes. Look into the soul of the universe and summon your spirit animal.
Not really … but do go deep with me and remember: we are more than a body and a mind… we are also spiritual beings. Spiritual beings are given more power and and knowledge than we realize. A power that was instilled in us through an infinite world we can’t see with our natural eyes.
Call it faith in God, karma, enlightenment, or whatever you desire, but our spirit being isn’t measured by material success, failed endeavors, or the judgment of others. There will come a point in our existence when what we see in the mirror, our ability to create wealth, or our developed acquisition skills, won’t matter.
What will matter is the love and kindness we have given to others. What will matter is the legacy of hope we have left for those we were connected to. What will matter is that we mindfully lived our true selves and loved that person.
Charles Bukowski wrote, “If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.” Loving yourself can actually be the most challenging obstacle in our innate ability to love.
I want be somebody new? Nah. I want to be ME.