What if you chose to no longer believe that there is something wrong with you? What if you accepted all the parts of you, both good and “bad”, as a part of our human experience? This is what the practice radical self acceptance helps us to do. We see all the parts of ourselves without the need to label any of it bad or wrong or deeply flawed in some way.
Understanding how our brain works is important in understanding why we are the way we are. Our brain wants to keep us alive and safe. It is motivated to avoid pain, seek pleasure and conserve energy. Back in the days when we were living in caves, this worked really well for us. It kept us alive.
Today, however, this primitive part of our brain tends to work against us at times. We no longer have as many threats to our survival as we once did. We do not have to work as hard to live, to stay safe, avoid predators and find food and water. Now our days are full of trips to the supermarket and Netflix. This is fine, until we do it in excess and then believe that there is something wrong with us and we beat ourselves up for it, judging ourselves lazy and flawed in some way.
We also tend to believe that there is something wrong with us when we feel certain emotions – such as fear, jealousy, anger and loneliness. Somehow we decided that we should be happy all the time. If we’re not happy, somehow there is something wrong with us or we are doing life wrong.
The truth is the human brain will have us a feel a wide range of emotions at any given time. The good news is that none of it means that anything has gone wrong. Nor is there anything wrong with us. Some days we will feel angry. Some days we will feel sad. We can learn to experience and process those emotions without making it mean anything about us – other than we are human.
When we decide that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with us and that everything we experience is in fact a part of our human experience, then we begin to see ourselves with compassion. We learn to feel every emotion without trying to avoid it, resist it or react to it.
By feeling our emotions without thinking we need to change them, we can allow the emotion to be fully present within our bodies. We do not layer on judgement or criticism. Neither do we give up on ourselves in self-defeat. We are fully present with our thoughts and our emotions. We do not label ourselves flawed or broken, we are just human. Allowing our emotions, without trying to change them, resist them, or react them, also helps us to move through them with more ease and in a shorter time.
As a human being, it is very common for our brains to tell us that there is something wrong with us. Perhaps it tells us we are not good enough and that everyone else is doing so much better or something else along those lines. I am here to tell you it is simply not true. It probably feels true – partly because you’ve been thinking this way for so long you think what you brain is telling you is a fact. But it’s not.
You are a human being with a human brain having a human experience. It will be messy, it will be challenging and it will not always be easy, but it can be fun and magical and extraordinary. But you need to give yourself a break. Embrace your humanness and accept all the parts of you – even the parts your brain is telling you are flawed and all wrong. Learn to catch yourself when you hear these thoughts in your brain and redirect your brain with loving kindness towards yourself and others.
You are not unique in these feelings of shame and inadequacy, etc., everyone experiences it and that’s OK. I hear clients all the time doubting themselves, criticising and beating themselves up all the time. Everyone goes through this. This is why we know it is just a part of the human experience, but one that we can choose not to believe, not to make it mean anything about ourselves, but it’s basically not true.
You can hear those thoughts in your head and not make them mean anything. Just because you think those thoughts doesn’t make them true. There is nothing wrong with you. You are a human and it’s all OK.
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