Ep#070 Why We Need More Self Acceptance and Less Self Improvement

As a holistic health coach, I’ve come to know that when it comes to creating the change we desire for ourselves, cultivating Self Acceptance is the fundamental piece . Without a high level of self acceptance we will lack what it truly takes to take constructive empowered action in our lives.

The problem with Self Improvement is that it makes our self acceptance conditional . We can’t feel like we are truly okay until ……… Our efforts to better ourselves no matter how correct and sensible can feel like being on a hamster wheel. Self Acceptance is here and NOW – no conditions, no standards. It doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the things we would like to change, we just aren’t including them in our equation of inherent worth and acceptability.

Self Acceptance doesn’t makes us lazy, idle or complacent. All the research points to the fact that Self Acceptance is what actually sets the stage for growth and real change.

In this special solo show, I share some key strategies for why and how we need to make this important shift when it comes to stepping into our full personal power to create the health and wellbeing we truly desire.

Podcast Transcript

0 (1s):
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.

Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello, and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening. Working on yourself can be a slippery slope. There is a fine line between healthy self-improvement, where we’re making changes that enrich our lives and forever hustling for a sense of okayness and enoughness that never seems to come because unfortunately, the all too common attitude in the health and wellness space is when I weigh X. When I have X, when I achieve X, then I’ll feel better about myself. Then I’ll have more self-confidence then I’ll be happier. Can you see how making our okayness, our happiness on something outside of us can be just a recipe for a lifetime of suffering.

Christine Okezie (1m 12s):
So as a holistic health coach, I’ve come to know that when it comes to creating the change that we desire for ourselves, cultivating self-acceptance is the fundamental piece without a high genuine level of unconditional self acceptance, we will lack what it truly takes to take constructive empowered action in our lives. What is self acceptance? Self acceptance is the unconditional acceptance of yourself. Without qualification. You accept all facets of your whole being. As I like to say, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Christine Okezie (1m 52s):
You acknowledge your weaknesses limitations without them becoming obstacles to your ability to fully see yourself as already whole enough and complete self-acceptance is not ignoring your shortcomings. It’s quite the opposite. Self-acceptance is having a realistic picture of yourself and tapping in to self-respect and self-compassion as the motivation to improve self-acceptance is what dissolves, the shame, the guilt, and the habitual self rejection that we’ve accepted as a necessary part of the change process. When in fact, the research shows that these negative emotions is actually what drives self-sabotage and take a serious toll on our physical and mental wellbeing.

Christine Okezie (2m 43s):
Self-improvement implies that your self-acceptance is conditional. We can’t feel like we’re truly okay until.dot dot, therefore without self-acceptance is the foundation of our being all self-improvement efforts, no matter how correct. And how sensible can have us feeling like a hamster on a wheel, constantly trying to better ourselves. Another key distinction is that self-improvement is dynamic and future oriented where I self-acceptance is here and now no conditions, no standards.

Christine Okezie (3m 24s):
Now we’re not ignoring the things we would like to change. We’re just not including them in our equation of inherent worth, and acceptability. It’s really radical. We don’t have to alter anything about ourselves to secure ourself acceptance. However, what we do need is to shift ourself perception. That is how we see ourselves, how we relate to ourselves, and then any changes we decide to make from that space in our habits and our behaviors, et cetera, become a matter of personal choice, but not a requirement for being okay with who we are.

Christine Okezie (4m 8s):
You see, if we tie self-acceptance to any condition, then by definition, he will never have lasting acceptance. Now self-acceptance is different from self-esteem. It’s an important distinction because you know, compliments, awards, achievements, all these things help you develop good and high self-esteem. They help you develop a positive image of yourself. They help you see your strengths relative to others, and they boost your ability to believe in your capability. In contrast, self-acceptance says, regardless of whatever is happening in your life, you will always have the capacity to feel love and compassion for yourself.

Christine Okezie (4m 52s):
Building self esteem, you might say leads to temporary happiness, right? Kind of ebbs and flows with the doings of your life. But self acceptance leads to lasting happiness, inner peace, and contentment. Now all this talk about accepting yourself might be triggering you right now, because of course in this society, there are huge misconceptions about what self acceptance really is. See, we’ve been conditioned to believe that if we accept ourselves just as we are right now, well, this will make us lazy, complacent, idle, but the research all points to the fact that self-acceptance is what actually sets the stage for growth and we’ll change.

Christine Okezie (5m 39s):
See self-acceptance, doesn’t make you big headed or conceited. When you genuinely accept all your perfect imperfections, you actually become more humble, more open, and you stop wasting valuable energy running away from or hiding or ignoring the parts of yourself. Comparing yourself, self acceptance. As a result, leads to more authentic living. You can stop wasting the time and energy on trying to be someone you think you’re supposed to be. See when you stop judging yourself and get out of that problem.

Christine Okezie (6m 21s):
Fixing troubleshooting mode with yourself, you can direct some energy and attention to admitting the many wonderful things about you and the end result. The end result is more. Self-esteem more, self-confidence more self-respect. Can you see now how the gift of self-acceptance is truly what’s critical to our true wellbeing and that without this global affirmation of ourselves, we can stay stuck. Now self-acceptance again, it doesn’t mean throwing in the towel, you know, giving up on yourself, accepting yourself.

Christine Okezie (7m 1s):
You’ll judge. Just the way things are. That’s just the hand that fate has given me. It’s not about any of that self acceptance is not about giving yourself a pass on trying to make changes that enhanced your life. Self acceptance is about being objective about your strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative tendencies without attaching them to yourself worth without letting them define who you are. See, you’re not your actions. You’re not your qualities. You’re not your mistakes or flaws. Self-acceptance is understanding that you have your value is separate from these things altogether.

Christine Okezie (7m 44s):
You have intrinsic value. You have an innate value of value that remains unchanged in the face of the conditions and circumstances of your life. So most of us are struggling with, you know, unconditional self acceptance. And you know, where does this come from? How do we get here? Because the truth is, if we came into this world, we had to learn how to not accept ourselves. We had to learn how to place conditions on how we perceived our value in the world. So where, when and where did this happen? Or how could this have happened? Well, as you probably have already figured out it’s about our conditioning, right?

Christine Okezie (8m 28s):
You know, in the first seven, eight years of our life, we know that we form our sense of self and we learn to accept ourselves to the degree that we felt accepted by our parents and caregivers, caregivers. See, most of us got the message that our Acceptibility was totally dependent on how we acted. Maybe we got messages, some subtle, some not so subtle that we weren’t smart enough, attractive enough. Maybe we were too emotional. We were too quiet. We were not quiet enough. Perhaps we were frequently blamed or put down or ignored, right?

Christine Okezie (9m 8s):
We continue this cycle as adults by habitually beating ourselves up by unconsciously rejecting ourselves. Now, of course, there are so many varying degrees of what can be called nurturing, supportive family environments. But at the end of the day, I think it’s useful to understand that conditional love, conditional acceptance is something we learned and we’re all quite frankly, to a certain degree shaped by the legacy of our parents and caregivers and their idea of conditional love and acceptance. I think it’s really useful to reflect on that.

Christine Okezie (9m 52s):
We’re all really doing this collective healing work together. We’re all here doing the work of recertifying or affirming our own enoughness our okayness. And, and when we can see this though, I actually think it’s actually a beautiful thing because we can come to know through the process of doing this work. That indeed we are our own agents of compassion, healing, and transformation. I’ve come to see there’s a universe universality to this work of self acceptance because we all bear the burden of this unlearning in a way is understanding that this is a shared human endeavor, ultimately generated it’s even more.

Christine Okezie (10m 38s):
Self-compassion, there’s a real tender quality. When we hold ourselves to be worthy of this heart opening work. When we do recognize the courage, it takes to have a willingness to confront what we have found difficult to accept about ourselves. So some examples of this, that ring true, of course, are body image struggles, right? Body image struggles happen. When we have low self acceptance, we reject our bodies because we compare and judge them against a certain standard that has us believing that our bodies are wrong.

Christine Okezie (11m 18s):
They’re a failure that we’re a failure that the size shape age of our bodies comes to define who we are. And of course, we know that this can lead to obsessive behaviors around food and dieting exercise. This low self-acceptance can ultimately lead to eating disorders. We think we can change our bodies. We’ll gain self-confidence will boost our self esteem, but the truth is that any lasting changes in our lives must be rooted first in this unconditional self-acceptance only when you can affirm your value beyond your body or any external condition in your life for that matter, your education career, social status, relationship status.

Christine Okezie (12m 7s):
Only when we do this affirmation of our whole being, can we tap into the self-compassion and the self-respect that’s so necessary that take the action in our lives to achieve our goals. So here’s the skinny, you can accept yourself right now, right now in this moment. And this will not derail your resolve, nor your ability to take empowered action to enrich your health and your life. You see self acceptance is not, self-indulgence the big secret that the diet industry doesn’t want you to know is that you can actually accept and love yourself now, as you are, and reach your health, weight, and life goals.

Christine Okezie (12m 59s):
In fact, your best chances for achieving and managing, you know, your natural weight comes from love and acceptance, not rejection, not punishment. Now, of course just don’t take my word for it. There are countless studies that show when people feel more positive about themselves, about their bodies, their ability to regulate their eating habits and self care improves as well as the motivation and belief in themselves to sustain them, to produce their desired results. You see, just as you can love a child exactly, as they are and continue to support their learning and growth, your love and acceptance creates the perfect conditions to become the truest and greatest expression of yourself.

Christine Okezie (13m 50s):
I love the quote from Carl Rogers and he says, the curious paradox is that when I accept myself, as I am, then I change south acceptance actually increases our inner resolve, because think about it. You simply accept that challenge, pain, failure, they’re all a part of life. And when you are able to come from this place of high self-acceptance, will it keeps you from spiraling into that negativity. So it strengthens your capacity to handle adversity, which is so necessary for any kind of behavior or life change process.

Christine Okezie (14m 34s):
Self-acceptance gives you a clear vision of where you are and what you need to improve. Not because you’re flawed, but simply because you know, you come from a place now of self respect and self honor, you realize you’re worthy of your own time, care, and attention. So it’s very freeing because it allows us to let go of these idealized versions of ourselves. And by the way, what this does is for any of those recovering perfectionist out there. And I know I count myself included here. It neutralizes that it goes to the heart of those perfectionist tendencies. When you can just let go of the ideal and accept the real simply accept that having flaws and imperfections is what makes us human.

Christine Okezie (15m 26s):
Self-acceptance reduces our fear of failing and it boosts our confidence to take risks and therefore, trust ourselves more. Trust the change process more without worrying so much about the outcome. I’m all for self-acceptance. In fact, I’m all for it. More so in fact of self-improvement right. So what does that look like? For example, the work of self-acceptance. If you’re struggling with body image and body shame, someone who’s struggling with those things is dealing with her fears about imperfection, through a distorted, an unhealthy perspective.

Christine Okezie (16m 6s):
She recognizes that and commits to working on this perspective, she’s doing the work of acknowledging and confronting limiting beliefs that feed herself doubt and negative self image. And she’s realizing that she doesn’t have to believe her thoughts. And she’s choosing to do the work of revising those disempowering stories. That’s the work of, self-acceptance not self-improvement perhaps you’re someone who’s struggling with cooking or healthy meal prep, but that’s okay because acknowledged that you struggle, and those are learning curves for you and just acknowledge that that’s okay. You’re still okay, because you have other strengths.

Christine Okezie (16m 49s):
Self-acceptance looks at binge eating overeating negative self-talk and says you’re still a good person worthy of your kindness and respect. See telling yourself it’s okay. And not saying mean things to yourself actually makes you feel better in your body. And why wouldn’t we want to do that? Self-acceptance is forgiving yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before giving yourself permission to stop blaming yourself for things that happened in the past. Things that you know, you know, now that you did the best you could at the time from your level of awareness and understanding and belief about yourself and the life around you.

Christine Okezie (17m 36s):
So we’re just acknowledging when we’re in self-acceptance that we can’t change our past failures and mistakes. We need to move on. Self-acceptance is feeling the emotions, feeling your, by connecting them to your body, to your sensations and the underlying thoughts. You’re actually doing this work of self-acceptance to acknowledge the there’s a built in appreciation that we’re all a work in progress. Humans quite honestly, on planet earth are all a work in progress, constantly changing, learning, and evolving. We’re not a finished product.

Christine Okezie (18m 19s):
The reality is that you can’t accept any part of yourself until you accept all of yourself. In fact, that’s the work of south acceptance, loving the parts of ourselves that we don’t necessarily like. So instead of shame and guilt move from, I don’t like myself to, I will be my own ally while I create positive change in my life. This helps us step into a genuine experience of present reality of our present reality. Instead of getting lost in the mind’s activity that moves us into doubt and self criticism, self acceptance is about accepting the truth of the current situation.

Christine Okezie (19m 13s):
And at the same time, honestly, admitting with kindness and understanding what needs to change when you have complete self-acceptance, you’re more likely to feel balanced and happy, and you don’t have to experience those waves of exp those extremes of, you know, high self-esteem and self-loathing, and self-rejection right. Get off that emotional commotional rollercoaster. When you know, our minds activities are running the show. So how do we increase self-acceptance first of all, please understand. Of course, it’s a process cultivating unconditional self-acceptance can be challenging, especially since it requires undoing and unlearning years of subconscious conditioning self-acceptance doesn’t happen overnight.

Christine Okezie (20m 9s):
It requires us to be patient and gentle and maybe even get some support. So I want to offer three strategies for cultivating we’re beginning to jumpstart the self-acceptance process. Step number one, we need to recognize the beliefs and fears that keep you with holding your unconditional self acceptance. So as you go throughout your day, you might want to pause occasionally and ask yourself in this moment, do I accept myself as I am in this moment? Do I, myself as I am, and without judging, simply notice how you’re relating to your body, your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviors.

Christine Okezie (21m 1s):
See the more you bring awareness to these unconscious mental tendencies. The more they will begin to lose their power over you. Now, the exercise in accordance with this is really to love the part of you that you habitually, reject and push away. I have found when I practice this self acceptance activity, the thing that bothers me, the thing that is quote unquote a problem, no matter how big or small while it loses its power over me. So the practices I send love to the part of myself, that’s, you know, comparing myself to other people.

Christine Okezie (21m 42s):
I send love to that part of myself that ate the box of cookie last night, I send loved that part of myself that’s feeling disgusted for eating compulsively. I send love to the part of me that’s feeling insecure, depressed, or unworthy. The second strategy towards self-acceptance is to learn, to acknowledge your value and strengths so that we can have a more balanced and accurate view of ourselves. So you want to acknowledge your strengths. And it doesn’t mean that, you know, just by listing all these positive qualities and strengths, that you don’t have any areas of growth you want to work on.

Christine Okezie (22m 22s):
In fact, this is really an exercise just to take an open and genuine look at the positive attributes and learn to own them from a place of clarity and acceptance. So this is an exercise called identifying your intrinsic value. Now, intrinsic value. I mentioned it earlier is a term that’s borrowed from the finance world. And it basically says that, you know, it’s an inherent value of something that, that persists regardless of the current market value in this case. And we apply this concept to our self-worth to why we are worthy of our self-acceptance.

Christine Okezie (23m 6s):
So the idea is that regardless of what’s going on in your life, your value is constant unchanging, bad things, difficult things will happen, but these things do not define us. Our value remains intact, even when we’re struggling, even when we’re failing. So the exercise here to make a list of, and we can start with just three, make a list of three positive personal qualities that you possess that you believe to be true about yourself. Now, these attributes can be big or small. They might be particular things like I’m funny I’m patient.

Christine Okezie (23m 47s):
They might be some talents. I’m a good cook. I’m a fast learner. They might be character related. You know, I’m a loving parent. I’m a kind friend I’m very helpful to others, right? So whatever it is begin with just three on this list of identifying once again, your intrinsic value. And as you move through your day to day, begin to pay attention to strengths and the things that are valuable about you notice what you do. Well, notice the things that come easily to you, right? Name them, give them words.

Christine Okezie (24m 27s):
I’m creative, I’m communicate. I’m a good communicator. I’m trustworthy, I’m dependable, right? I’m a problem solver. And as you move on each week, you know, add this, add to the list and maybe add one or two new positive qualities that you’re observing in yourself. And that you believe are intrinsically true about who you are. You know, you have this list now to review as a daily practice, right? Put these characteristics, put these positive strengths and attributes in the forefront of your mind become fluent in your intrinsic value by embedding these qualities in your internal portrait of yourself.

Christine Okezie (25m 13s):
And finally for strategy, number’s three, a system of healing that gives you an embodied experience, that you are so much more than your body, your mind, your conditions, your circumstances. And this for me is Kundalini yoga and meditation. See the goal of yoga practice is to have an experience of what you are beyond the boundaries of your physical body and mind, and to do so requires developing great sensitivity, a higher level of consciousness. And therefore this means doing things that cultivate higher levels of sensitivity and greater consciousness in Kundalini yoga, we can use tools like conscious breath work.

Christine Okezie (25m 58s):
eye focus specific postures to purify the dense layers in the psyche that get clogged up with the past conditioning and the traumatic wounding, all of that conditioning that gives us a false picture of who we are and our current situation, all these things that give us that negative bias towards ourselves and therefore feed the tendencies that keep us stuck in guilt and self rejection, Kundalini, yoga, and meditation. These tools, these techniques. I love them because they’re a physical and mental process. We can practice the breath work to reset our nervous system.

Christine Okezie (26m 42s):
We can find a meditative gaze by bringing our eye focus, you know, into that third eye space. What we call the agna chakra, the command center, right? That space between the two brows, which when we place a gentle focus there with our closed eyes, calms the mind stimulates the pituitary gland and therefore supports, you know, a healthy glandular system. Then, then everything in this body mind the system is in a better setting where we can have an accurate perception of reality that causes our awareness to perceive the part of ourself that is not dependent on the narrative and the fluctuations of our mind.

Christine Okezie (27m 27s):
You see, our psyche is always creating a story. So the work of self-acceptance through self-realization becoming aware of the story, deciding perhaps that story is old, no longer serving us. And I want to change it. Well, this is the work of self-acceptance. We need to have an expansive awareness, a higher level of consciousness to change the story. Three of our life love Kundalini, yoga and meditation, because it gives you tools quite simply to help us live in our bodies with a genuine sense of self-acceptance, right. We don’t have to get caught up in the mental activity and the story and the emotional commotion.

Christine Okezie (28m 11s):
We can simply do the work of cultivating the energetic conditions, the pronic conditions in this organism to see and perceive our life, to see and perceive ourselves through a different lens, you know, through a lens of wisdom, through a lens of self-acceptance, whether it’s the language of chakras or psychology or neuroscience, south acceptance, as a process, as a practice is a path of emotional maturity. It’s a path towards inner contentment and joyful living. My favorite closing, prayer, or affirmation that I continue to use in my life.

Christine Okezie (28m 55s):
And I share often with my clients comes from one of my lifelong teachers, Tara Brach whose book, “Radical Acceptance, Embracing Your Life With a Heart of a Buddha,: taught me many years ago about the power of unconditional self-acceptance to free us from these unconscious habits of self rejection. On this note, a prayer that I still use and share with clients, “May I love and accept myself just as I am. May I love and accept myself just as I am.” So I hope that’s been helpful my friends, thanks so much for listening.

Christine Okezie (29m 36s):
And if you did like the podcast, I invite you to leave a rating and review on apple podcast and please hit the subscribe button. It helps me keep the podcast growing. Thanks so much. And bye for now.

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