Self Acceptance and Self Love is the Key to Inner Peace and Contentment
Written by Louise Kramer, Clinical Psychologist
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
The cornerstone to happiness ultimately depends on your relationship with yourself. If there is self-acceptance, respect and love in that relationship, then there is peace wherever you go. When you love and accept yourself, you love and accept others. You no longer need the approval of others and you no longer need to judge others. You are the love you are seeking. You are free to be yourself. You are happy wherever you go, and your relationships are harmonious and based on the same respect you give yourself. There is peace in every step you take. This is contentment.
I like to say, your first marriage is with yourself. You wake up with yourself, you have breakfast with yourself, you go to work with yourself, you spend all day with yourself – you go with yourself everywhere you go.
The big problem is that the way we talk to ourselves is like our own worst enemy. The voice is our head is like our worst CRITIC. There is a war in our head, and the war is with ourself. We don’t like ourselves.
The CRITIC in our head:
- Blames you
- Compares you to others, to their achievements and you lose
- Sets impossible standards of perfection for yourself and others, and then criticises you when you don’t meet them.
- Tells you if you are not the best, you are nothing
- Tells you how you should live and what’s wrong with what you do
- Calls you names, you are a loser, lazy
- Exaggerates your weaknesses, insisting you have ruined your life, your job, your relationships, your brain – that you are always stupid
- Throws up images of your past mistakes / awkward moments in your life
- Reads your friends minds and tells you they are bored, don’t like you or think your stupid.
- Tells you, you don’t deserve love.
The voice of the CRITIC is so normal you don’t even notice it is there but it is having a devastating effect on your life and your well-being. It breaks down any good feelings you have about yourself. It sabotages your endeavours, and causes drama and conflict in your relationships.
What the CRITIC says sounds and feels reasonable and justifiable but it is NOT. You need to consider carefully there impact. Would you talk to a child the way you talk to yourself? Blame, judge and punish a thousand times for the same mistake. Would that judgement help the child to grow. NO of course not. What the child needs and what you need is love, acceptance, encouragement and forgiveness to grow. It is unconditional love that makes a child open, flower and flourish. We need the same love, self-acceptance and forgiveness for ourselves. Remember we are born perfect. We are born good enough. We do not have to earn it but we have learnt to believe we are not perfect. This is a lie. We have to unlearn the lies.
Fortunately, the CRITIC is not real. It is an illusion invented by your mind. People become so used to listening to the CRITIC it takes over their mind.
You need to TURN OFF THE CRITIC in your head. IGNORE HIM. STOP LISTENING AND BELIEVING HIM. It is an illusion and what it says is not the TRUTH.
Is it TRUE you are stupid, ugly, your friends don’t like you, you do not deserve love? NO.
Do these thoughts bring you suffering or peace? Suffering and they are cruelling your life. You need to choose peace.
You need to start a new relationship with yourself. You need to be your own BEST FRIEND. You need to stop rejecting yourself, and talk to yourself with RESPECT, UNDERSTANDING and COMPASSION – with LOVE.
You need to REFUTE what the critic says because it is not true. You need to STOP THE SELF-JUDGEMENT, BLAME, CRITICISM AND PUNISHMENT.
OR better still, just IGNORE THE CRITIC. STOP LISTENING. When you stop paying attention to negative thoughts they fall away. It seems very hard at first, but if you watch your mind and notice the bad thoughts and feelings as they arise, and turn away from them, they stop coming. The negative thoughts are like a stray cat. If you stop feeding the cat, it stops coming back.
You need to practice, practice, practice.
What helps me is that I try not to talk to myself at all. You do not need to talk to yourself. Just to be THE SEER or THE WATCHER without talking to yourself and not paying attention to any thoughts that arise. To practice being the seer, you just watch the world around you without the internal running commentary. Just look. Do not describe, analyse, classify or judge what you see. Just be the silent watcher, be quiet and be the space in which things happen.
Gradually your mind calms down, gets quieter, and becomes peaceful. You feel good. This is true contentment and self-acceptance.
Another helpful technique to focus your awareness, is to act as if you do love yourself and ask yourself? If I loved myself what would I do? How would I spend my time today? Who would I spend my time with? Who would I allow in my life? How would I treat my body – what foods would I eat, would I exercise, would I ensure I get adequate sleep? Would I treat others how I am being treated, and if not, why am I allowing bad treatment of me?
You need to start a new relationship with yourself and be your own best friend. Be kind, encouraging and compassionate with yourself like you would treat your own child. Respect yourself and like yourself just the way you are. Don’t ever go against yourself. Enjoy your own company. Say nice things to yourself. Focus on your strengths. Be grateful for the positives. Do not let others go against you or treat you with disrespect. Treat others with respect for what you do to others, you do to yourself. Do not engage in behaviours that make you feel worse. Be willing and giving when it feels right for you. Also, you need to let go of the past. You did the best you could. You never meant to hurt yourself or make mistakes or hurt anyone else. Forgive yourself. Forgive others for they are also innocent in the same way. Learn the lessons and move forward. It is not what happens but what you do with what happens that counts. Above all, be yourself, take action and do the best you can.
I know you can do it.
In the words of a great Master, Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book “Mastery of Love”:
“Everyone has a price, and Life respects that price. But the price is not measured in dollars or gold; it is measured in love. More than that, it is measured in self-love. How much you love yourself. – that is your price – and Life respects that price.”
Louise Kramer is an Australian Clinical Psychologist specialising in Mindfulness based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Couple Therapy. Known for her personal, down-to-earth and engaging style, Louise works with adults, couples and children with a wide range of issues