Thanks to Martha Beck and my recent research on integrity, I discovered that my disease to please holds me back from living in a state of truth and flow. This may be true for you as well. So, this week, we are exploring the topic of acceptance to help us move with more freedom and ease on the path to authenticity.
What does it mean to be accepted?
For me, being accepted means being loved without conditions or prejudice. I believe that it is the pursuit of acceptance from people who aren’t ready to receive your love that steers you off the path. So, why do so many people feel the need to be accepted?
I am one of those people who struggle with a deep need to be accepted by others. The worst part of it is that I want to be accepted by people who generally don’t appreciate me. Most often, this leaves me in a cycle of feeling insecure (do they like me?), followed by trying hard (they’ll like me if I do well), and finally being rejected (Ugh! they don’t care about me). Clearly, this is not a fun or helpful cycle for me (or anyone else).
To fully understand the reason for my need for approval and acceptance, I spent time peeling back the layers of my past. It started when I was a teenager… By age 13, I was struggling emotionally with the idea of family and security. Unlike many kids in my community, my parents were absent from the home. I felt different from others. For me, my friends were my family, and my teachers were my role models. I did not have a “traditional family unit” that I could rely on for emotional or financial support.
Truthfully, I was accepted by most kids in school, but I remember always longing to be “seen” by the ones that had a good life and a stable family that supported them. I wanted to be welcome and seen as worthy to have a place at their table. I wanted to believe that I deserved the same opportunities and belonged in the same classes, universities, and workplaces that they did.
But deep down, it was me that didn’t believe that I was worthy. It didn’t matter how other kids felt about me. The only thing that truly mattered was my own limiting belief that I wasn’t worthy of the same love or opportunities as others. Ultimately, it was the false belief in myself – my insecurity – that held me back from my own potential. I was my own worst critic.
One of my greatest teachers in life who taught me about self-love and acceptance is my husband, Hani. He was born in Lebanon during a civil war. His parents immigrated to Canada to raise their family in a safe and secure environment. As an immigrant entering high school, Hani was different from most kids in his community. Due to his cultural differences, he faced some challenges. However, he never felt a need to be accepted by anyone. He never questioned whether he was worthy of love and opportunity. He felt secure at home.
I’ll never forget in the weeks that followed my engagement to Hani. One day, my insecure self asked him, “why did you choose me to be your wife?” He kindly told me that I am the most loving person he’d ever met and that love is all he could wish for in his life. He went on to say, “You don’t see yourself the way that I see you.”
It took me a long time to confront my insecurity and see myself as Hani sees me. It took me even longer to love myself the same way that Hani loves me. Hani helped me to build a safe and secure home for myself and our family.
Be you, be love, and believe!
Acceptance is knowing that your love and presence is a true gift to be enjoyed by you and by others who are ready to receive it. Even if your love touches one other person in this life, you have made a significant difference in the world. You don’t need the acceptance of a group, you only need the acceptance of one. You.
Seeing others in their truth and wholeness is how we encourage and foster self-love and respect. Here are some books that celebrate the beauty of kids in their diverse and glorious truths. They make great coffee table books and lead to wonderfully inspiring conversations:
- Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker
- The Heart of a Boy by Kate T. Parker
- My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart
When we believe in our capacity to love and be loved, we accept ourselves as loving and lovable. Also, we connect with others who are loving and lovable. This is how we find each other on the path to authenticity.
Thank you for being here. Next time, we’ll return to the topic of forgiveness. It feels like the next right step after acceptance.
Let’s journey together.