What would happen if, just for today, we accepted ourselves fully, just as we are, with all of our baggage, our faults, our mistakes, our current lives?
Our choices (big and small), our education (whatever it is), our sense of humor (regardless of whether others laugh), our daily activities (momentous and mundane)?
Our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, our successes, our fears, our pleasures, out tastes, our sensitivities, our pain?
Our friends, our family, our friends, our enemies?
What if we really accepted the idea that we are meant to be here? That our individual life matters just as it is? That what we do today, this week, this month, this year, is—without question—enough?
What if the next time we talk about ourselves with a friend, we refuse to couch our lives and our experience in apology and regret and “what if” and “if only”? What if we approach each moment with a full acceptance of our worth as a human being?
And why is the very idea of this acceptance so down-to-our-very-core terrifying?
This change is not the same as giving up. It doesn’t mean we stop setting goals or working for a better future for ourselves and others. It doesn’t make us lazy or selfish or apathetic or arrogant. And it doesn’t mean we are not honest about having problems or needs or that we do not reach out for support.
What it does mean is that we let go of our safety blanket of self-doubt, that we bravely stop ourselves from uttering another word of apology for who we are or who we have been or who we want to be, and that, as Elizabeth Gilbert wrote so powerfully this week, we stop comparing ourselves to each other:
“[W]e constantly measure ourselves against each other’s progress, which is a truly dreadful habit. My sister, Catherine, told me recently about a conversation she’d had with a sweet neighbor who—after watching Catherine spend an afternoon organizing a scavenger hunt for all the local kids—said sadly, ‘You’re such a better mother than I will ever be.’ At which point, my sister grabbed her friend’s hands and said, ‘Please. Let’s not do this to each other, okay?'” Read more
Make no mistake: This change that Elizabeth Gilbert calls for is harder than going back to school or losing weight or being more productive (whatever that means). It requires the courage to change from the inside out. It will free up a lot of inner space, and we may not know how to fill that space at first, which is part of our fear.
But in the end, it may be the only real change we need.