Most of us want to be our best selves, achieving and growing to our full potential. We set goals and and try to improve ourselves however we can. But how do we know when enough is enough? How can we tell when self-improvement itself is becoming an addiction? When is it time to take a step back and accept ourselves for who we are right now?
The term radical acceptance in relation to psychotherapy was coined by Dr. Marsha Linehan as part of her Dialectical Behavior Therapy for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. But to many, it stems from an even earlier philosophy, that of Alcoholics Anonymous. The serenity prayer's call to "accept the things I cannot change," has been a life-saver for many struggling with a way to grapple with life's challenges.
But as with all things, self-love begins deep down, underneath the reach of external circumstances. For some time now, Anne Lamott, inspirational writer and healer, has been sharing her secrets on self-care. "Radical self-care, " she writes, "means that I gently bust myself out of the desperate life-long need to please, and it means that I start to say no as a complete sentence."
Learning to say no to others takes practice, but learning to say no to your inner critic can be the hardest task of all. For example how often do you:
- Take A Break Before A Task Is Finished
- Forgive Yourself For Hurting Someone You Love
- Talk To Yourself As Kindly As You Would Speak To A Small Child
- Have Compassion For Your Faults
- Look In The Mirror And Tell Yourself That You Are Beautiful
Learning to love yourself in this way means that you are aware of your faults, but you love yourself anyway. It is an act of radical acceptance to embrace your weaknesses in a society that values power above all else. But as psychologist Tara Brach said, "a moment of radical acceptance is a moment of genuine freedom.