This topic was suggested by my mother-in-law, Janet Mueller!
I am not a therapist, counselor, or a psychologist, so I don’t know if I’m qualified to write this post with any authority. So I’ll write with without authority, and you can just accept that.
First, an observation. When I was doing an image search for the term “self acceptance” to use as the header of this blog post, I found a LOT of clip art featuring women, and only one or two featuring men. I don’t think that’s deliberate; I think that there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding the improvement of mental and emotional health, and that stigma hits men particularly hard. Real men don’t go to therapy. Real men don’t need to self-actualize. Real men don’t have to take anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds. Real men work through it all; heck, I saw a
The point, though, is that I had to dig a bit to find a bit of clip art that I thought was gender-neutral enough to include at the top of this blog post.
Self acceptance is hard. We talk a lot about having to accept our limits when we consider our dreams and our fantasies about what we want to do and about the changes we want to make in the world, and this too is considered “self acceptance”.
I think it’s important to accept your limits, of course, but it’s also important to realize where your limits are. And they probably aren’t as nearby as you think. I probably won’t ever win the Nobel Peace Prize, but I may, if I try hard, be able to write a novel that features a post-scarcity, post-colonial civilization that is intent on making reparations to the peoples it has harmed. This is pretty ambitious. I’ve actually been thinking about this for several years as part of a Big Secret Writing Project that, unfortunately, never got off the ground. It still percolates in the back of my mind, but it probably won’t get written anytime soon.
So: accepting yourself means not just accepting your limitations, but also your possibilities. Acknowledge the things you can’t do, but also bear in mind those things you might do, if you wish.
As Marianne Williamson wrote, in a passage frequently misattributed to Nelson Mandela:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
This, I argue, is what self acceptance really is: the acceptance of your possibilities, not just your limitations.
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Today’s recommendation is the movie Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. I’m talking the live-action film on Netflix, not the anime or the manga. Jennifer and I saw this movie recently, and it delighted us both, and I loved its themes of self-acceptance, of friendship, and finding meaning in life, even in a zombie apocalypse. Plus, there’s no stupid love triangle or romantic subplot to distract from the zombie-squishing goodness! We saw the English dubbed version, but you can also watch it in Japanese with English subtitles. Highly recommended!