How To Practice Radical Acceptance

Tanya Valentin

The first thing that I did when I saw this photo was cringe.

My smile, my attitude, the look of confidence on my face, it was just plain embarrassing.  I confess that although this photo was taken two years ago, until today, I have been too ashamed to share it with a living soul.

“What will people think?” I asked myself, “Will they think that I am full of myself?”

“Who am I to be this confident?”

At the time when this photo was taken I used to colour my hair brown even though it was mostly grey.

I used to put off buying new clothes until I “lost my weight”. 

If I bought clothes they would be size 16 instead of the size 18 that I really am, just in case someone would see the label and think that I was fat.

I used to step off of the scale or look in the mirror at my extra chins, my saggy boobs, my stretch marks and my rolls with a sigh of disgust – just wishing that I were different. Just wishing that I were younger, skinnier, firmer, sexier.

I used to tell myself what a lazy, unmotivated, undesirable, undeserving slob I was all the time.

I used to do these things and I was miserable.

serendipity: (n.) finding something good without looking for it

And then one day I saw an ad on Facebook for a plus size clothing brand.  I fell in love with the stunning dress that the model was wearing. It was feminine, floaty, colourful, just stunning. The model, roughly a size 18, looked exquisite, confident, radiant – comfortable in her own skin. 

I decided, even though the dress was more than I would usually spend on myself, to place an order. 

I waited in anticipation for my frock to arrive. 

A couple of weeks later I found a parcel in my letterbox addressed to me.  I excitedly ripped open the package and gleefully put the dress on.

It was perfect!

For the first time since could remember I looked in the mirror and felt gorgeous. That small moment was a huge turning point for me.  I dawned on me that I could look beautiful no matter the size I was. 

You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.

Oprah Winfrey

flawsome: (adj.) an individual who embraces their “flaws” and knows they are awesome regardless.

From that day on I vowed to (and religiously stuck to) only buying clothing that made me feel good. Outfits that made me feel like I did in that dress.

Slowly but surely I bought more clothes that made me feel beautiful. I stopped dyeing my hair brown and let myself go lighter until I made grey my friend.

Instead of using the mirror, the scale and my too tight clothing as a way to confirm my “not good enough” status or wishing that I was different, I started looking in the mirror and choosing to see myself as beautiful.

Tanya Valentin

It wasn’t easy. Some days I could find one small thing about myself to like.  Giving myself compliments and choosing to see the beauty in me felt so unnatural – I just wasn’t raised to think that way. As girls, we receive the message very early on in our lives that we have to act or think a certain way.  We are admonished for being vain, we are taught to be ashamed of compliments.  We learn that the most desirable feminine attribute is selflessness…

Perhaps the reason why this photograph bugged me so much my lack of humility – my apparent lack of selflessness? This photo to me said, “I am not little red riding hood – I am the wolf!

metania: (n.) the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life

However, I persisted through the discomfort and I started practising radical acceptance. And what I found was that the more I accepted myself, the more joyful, confident and comfortable I felt in my own skin. 

Once I was no longer at war with myself, I had so much more energy to create the types of things I wanted in my life, and I could make space to discover new things about myself.

I recognised that if I was having a thought that hinged around “I am not good enough” or “who am I?” Then I was experiencing shame.  I started to challenge my thinking and getting curious about the things that triggered my feelings of shame. I became a shame detector. 

The emotion of shame in itself is not the villain we make it out to be. When processed with curiosity, shame has a very important message; “I have done something to hurt someone, I need to make amends”.  However, unchallenged shame can be so disempowering especially we use it to cause harm to ourselves. Or as a way to hold us back from living the life we want to live or from being the best, truest versions of ourselves.

Radical acceptance is not saying that the thing that happened to us or what we are currently going through is “okay” or that we shouldn’t take action to improve.  Radical acceptance is simply surrendering to the reality of “what is” at this moment in time and making peace with yourself.  As Byron Katie says in her book, Loving What Is;

When you argue with reality I lose – but only 100% of the time.

Byron Katie

Radical acceptance is simply deciding to stop the war that makes reality and yourself your own enemy.  Radical acceptance is merely a means of locating yourself – putting an emotional stake in the ground and saying to yourself;

“I am here. I am human, messy, full of flaws and imperfect in many ways and I am worthy of love and acceptance.” Radical acceptance is a way of taking responsibility for yourself where you are in life as well as the energy that you put out into the world.

sophrosyne: (n.) a healthy state of mind, characterised by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness

If you want to transform your life then you have to transform your thinking.

The first step to transforming your thoughts is to become aware of them.

My challenge to you, for the next 24 hours is to intentionally eves drop in on your thoughts. Set a timer on your phone for hour intervals. Carry a notebook around with you and each hour when your alarm goes off;

  • Stop what you are doing
  • Observe your thoughts you had in the previous hour
  • Record them in your notebook
  • Review your thoughts at the end of the day. Were they motivating and empowering? Could your thoughts makeover?
  • Take stock of your thoughts, brainstorm what you can intentionally say to yourself instead
  • Keep going, challenging yourself with new thoughts can be a bit tricky at first and takes practice, but just keep going.

So how about it? Are you up for the challenge towards radical acceptance?

If the answer is “yes” then join the amazing community of women making themselves a priority by following this link here.

Making yourself a Priority is a private Facebook group for women who are on a journey towards self-care, self-love and self-acceptance. No matter where you are on this journey you are welcome here. Come learn, love and witness the beauty and transformation in yourself and others in this uplifting sisterhood of like-minded women

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The Struggle To Be Real

Tanya Valentin

When I started writing my blog today I had a different subject in mind but for some reason, I kept on being pulled to this photo… So I decided to shelve the blog that I was halfway through and follow my heart and write this instead. This is a bit more of a personal blog from me, but I felt that it was something that I really wanted to share.

I have been challenged by my mentor to have more of “ME” on my website. To let you all get a glimpse of who the “REAL ME” is. This meant spending a morning being followed by a photographer, while she captured me and my story. I worked with the amazing Nykie Grove-Eades who was super fun and easy to work with. She took some amazing pics as you would have seen on my new, fresh looking website.

But this is something that I really struggled with( because if you know me, I am really more of a behind the scenes type of girl).

Acceptance

Amongst all the amazing photos that Nykie took that day this was one of them. Now I have to confess (this is going to sound a bit vain), that at first when I saw this photo all that I saw was all the chins! I immediately wanted to reject the photo because I didn’t look perfect and I was worried about other people would think. In fact a year ago I wouldn’t have dared to post such a chinny photo of myself anywhere, let alone on a blog for everyone to see.

However, I have been doing a lot of work on accepting myself and loving myself for who I am. So I chose to view it through a kinder more loving lens. And what I saw was ME! This is the real me – no filters, no air-brushing, happy, having fun at one of my favourite places in the world, the beach. When I look at myself through this lens, I see someone who is grateful for her health, her body, her life, her purpose. I see all the hard work that I have put into feeling better about myself.

Expectations

There is so much pressure out there to live up to expectations of what we should look like, who we should be and what we should say. Through-out my life I have really been challenged by this and the need to please others. I battled crippling self-doubt when I first started blogging. I fought against myself to write what was true for me and not what I felt other people wanted to hear. Discouraging and down-right mean thoughts would flood my brain each time that I would go to post anything. However, I became aware that these thoughts are just my brain’s defence system. Instead, I chose to be vulnerable, to be courageous, to trust my community and myself and forced myself to post regardless.

I do this because I know that I am not alone in this. I see others struggling with this all the time too and I know intuitively that through sharing my thoughts, ideas and fears I am able to help others to find their voice and to speak their truth. To find the courage be more true to who they are too. Thankfully, I have become better at managing my inner critic and posting has become much easier for me now, but it was really difficult for me at first.

I know that there are many people who struggle with just being themselves and speaking their truth. It is all too easy to get caught up in what others will think about us or give in to the fear of rejection. This fear can hold us back and make us tolerate things in our lives or behaviour from others that we know in our hearts that we shouldn’t. We can get so caught up in the fear of being found out to be lacking, flawed, “not perfect”. These are the primary reasons why people don’t challenge bad practice or avoid have those “courageous conversations”.

The need to be accepted and to belong is a strong innate drive in all of us. In my own learning journey, I have learnt to pay more attention to my intuition and what feels right for me. This has required of me to consciously let go of years of cultural programming, others expectations (or perceived expectations) of me and ideas of who I thought that I should be and to simply BE ME.

In my quest I have found inspiration the words of Brene Brown:

Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you make it your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you are not enough. You will always find it because you have made it your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods, we don’t negotiate their value in the world. The truth of who we are lives in our hearts.

Brene Brown

Lessons from my journey…

I would like to share a few lessons that I have learnt while I worked to love and accept myself:

  • We all battle with doubts, the fear of rejection or being seen to be an imposter – Speak your truth anyway.
  • We think that other people are watching us and judging us… But really most of the time they are so preoccupied with what is happening in their own lives that they fail to see what is going on for us.
  • If someone does judge you or says mean things it is a reflection on how they are feeling inside about THEMSELVES.
  • Sometimes it is your fault. We all make mistakes, it is part of being human. Although it is important to learn from our mistakes, recognise that mistakes are part of the learning process. Don’t use them as a self-torture device and let them occupy unnecessary room in your mind and your heart. Learn to be self-curious, not self-critical.
  • Hurt feelings aren’t fatal – objectively take the lesson from other’s comments and move on.
  • Just giving yourself permission to be yourself is incredibly scary at first, but once you get more confident it is really freeing and empowering.
  • When we are honest and authentic this inspires others to trust us, which inspires change.

Building Trust

In our profession, building trusting relationships is the most important aspect of our jobs. Our ability to build trust within our centre environments with the people in our team, with children and their families is vital to providing a safe nurturing environment for everyone in our setting. Without trust, there is no accountability, commitment or growth within our practice.

We can’t develop trust when there is no authenticity.

The more you allow yourself to be vulnerable and real the easier you make it for other people to be vulnerable and real around you. This is the beginning of the whole-hearted connection, relationships and trust with others.

Remember there is only one YOU. Even though you are imperfect and wired to struggle you are worthy of your own love and acceptance. The world needs the REAL YOU.

Our children are downloading from you, what it means to be human. They need the real you to make it okay for them to be imperfectly, beautifully, courageously real through your imperfect, beautiful, courageous example!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Kia Kaha

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