4 Jan 2022
author: Jamie Lynn Wilson
Happy New Year to us all! I am a fan of celebrations (as long as they are quiet and intimate – if I’m being honest.) I am a new fan of self-reflection. I am a fan of honoring one’s own needs. I am a huge fan of self-care and self-love. And I am finally beginning to be a fan of life.
I’ve had an opportunity of a lifetime, and I took it, and I’m owning it! My whole life has changed. And guess who else this same opportunity is staring in the face? Everyone!
I made the transfer of power from others back to myself. I made the shift from narcissistic mindsets, enmeshment, codependency and low-self esteem, to a self-empowered, self-accepting human.
Maybe you were expecting a more dramatic finale than “self-empowered, self-accepting human.” Maybe something more about finding success, find wealth, finding your soulmate, finding yourself, loving yourself…but I would propose that perhaps being self-empowered and self-accepting is the most dramatic outcome possible.
So keeping that in mind,
What if we first accept and love ourselves, and then we figure out who we are?
The devil’s advocate, the voice of fear, the voice of our pain and our past will try to sabotage us from this application of radical acceptance.
How will I know I’m worth loving?
What if I don’t like what I see when I look in the mirror?
What if I see nothing about myself worthy of love?
These are a few of the ways self-down and self-abandonment try to dissuade us from following through with action on our new ideas and goals.
Aaaahhhhh, okay so how do I go from “here” (victim, worthless, low self-worth, low self-respect, depressed, anxious) to “there” (self-accepting and self-validating)?
Welcome! Welcome to flipping the script on your life, your emotions, your thoughts.
Welcome to recognizing that we meet/discover/bloom as our authentic Selves after we’ve created an inviting space for our Selves. Creating mental and emotional availability for our Selves is how we make space to expand.
Having a welcome space for our Selves is like offering a waterfowl a crystal clear mountain lake, while a mind full of stress, sadness, grief, anger is like offering a waterfowl a muddy swamp.
The same is true for attracting the authentic parts of ourselves to come and stay, the artistic parts, the creative parts, the nurturing parts, the solitary parts – all the humanity of us.
We can more easily attract, or unintentionally push away, our authentic Selves, based on how calm the waters of our mind and hearts are.
“How can I feel calm if I don’t love myself?”
Step One: Radical Acceptance
Radical acceptance was one of the first tools I added to my Mental Health Toolbox. Andrew Harris states it quite well in his article 10 Steps of Radical Acceptance. Radical acceptance can be summed up as not fighting life as it happens. It aligns nicely with the Buddhist principles of mindfulness and compassion, which I am also a fan of. In her article Becoming an Inner Peace Activist, Tara Brach says it like this, “It is the capacity to clearly recognize our inner experience and embrace what we see with a kind heart.” She goes on, “We habitually reject parts of ourselves, and we judge others and make them the enemy. Befriending whatever we experience is what begins to free us.” Brach, Tara. (2003.)
Step Two: Identify Your Triggers
We all have triggers. It’s not necessarily going to lead to a screaming fight, but it may begin an internal struggle you may be used to ignoring. Now that we are practicing radical acceptance, we have some mental energy becoming available. The energy that we used to spend on worrying and bitterness we can now harness into the process of identifying our triggers, those things that take us out of the present and put us into a land of the past or a land of “what if’s.” Our triggers are things that take our focus off our emotional and mental goals. In fact, one of my Mental Health Exercises is practicing the pause. That is how I identify my triggers, as well as my boundaries.
Practicing the pause means listening to your body and your mind when your internal alarm system starts to beep. Does your chest feel tight? Do your arms feel tingly? Are your hands, jaw or shoulders clenched? Do you feel anger, disappointment, fear of rejection, disrespected, satisfied, amused, interested? Keep in mind that anger is a mask for many other feelings: disappointment, rejection, fear, anxiety, insecurity….if you are willing to practice the pause, you will quickly begin to understand your feelings and their causes more. Practicing the pause also led me to assert my boundaries out loud with others around me in a way that I had been afraid of and felt unworthy of in the past.
Step Three: Breathe
Honestly, you can learn how to use your breathing to change your mood and mindset in an instant. It is just straight science – breathing is medicine. Deep, intentional, mindful breathing brings calm and peace to your body and mind. I’m going to let Theodora Blachfield explains:
- “Slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system” Blanchfield, Theodora. (2021).
- “Deep Breathing also activates the vagus nerve, which is like the boss of the parasympathetic nervous system” Blanchfield, Theodora. (2021).
- “the parasympathetic nervous system oversee[s] things like mood, digestion, and heart rate. It will also send more oxygen to your brain and other organs.” Blanchfield, Theodora. (2021).
I didn’t realize just how often I would start holding my breathe subconsciously during stressful situations and interactions until I started practicing the pause. One of the best things about deep breathing is it’s free, I can do it anytime, and it’s such a natural activity that no one even notices that I am self-regulating.
Step 4: Repeat
Pause, Reflect, Repeat.
The more you practice these lifestyle habits, for stress-free experiences and greater resilience, the more natural they will become.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is self-belief and self-love. It’s brick by brick, daily affirmation by daily affirmation, one baby step in front of the other. And one day you will notice “I feel stronger. I feel in charge of my space. I am in charge of my lane, and don’t need to stress about anything outside of my lane.”
Thank you for choosing yourself. Thank you for choosing hope and the future. I look forward to next time.
Harris, Andrew. (2020, April 7). 10 Steps of Radical Acceptance. Hopeway. Retrieved on 4 Jan 2022 from https://hopeway.org/blog/radical-acceptance
Brach, Tara. (2003, n.d.). Becoming an Inner Peace Activist. Tricycle. Retrieved on 4 Jan 2022 from https://tricycle.org/magazine/becoming-inner-peace-activist/
Blanchfield, Theodora. (2021, Nov 9). The Benefits of Deep Breathing. Very Well Mind. Retrieved on 4 Jan 2022 from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-deep-breathing-5208001