From self improvement to self acceptance

An article by our community partner Aurora Meneghello

During the past 20 years we have seen an explosion of interest and content designed to help us grow. From self help books to YouTube channels, you can now find an endless list of things to work on in order to better yourself.

And therein lies the problem: there is a huge difference between a desire to deepen your self awareness and to grow versus chasing yet one more thing that is “wrong” with you.

A lot of us grew up in environments where (mostly well-meaning) adults thought we would benefit from hearing what we were doing wrong. Combine that with societal pressure to conform to specific standards of money, physical appearance, status, relationship choices, etc, and it’s no wonder we think there is something wrong in us that needs to be fixed!

I definitely fell into this big time as a young person. One friend even said to me once: “Aurora, your only problem is that you think you have a problem.” And what did I hear? Oh no, how do I fix that?

It wasn’t until I started to look in the direction of my own already-present inner wellbeing, that I began to understand what my friend had tried to tell me so many years ago. See, until then, working on myself meant improving what was wrong, defective, limiting, etc. While this sometimes worked, it mostly felt like a very heavy lift, required a ton of work, and sometimes created more insecurity and hopelessness making me focus on what I did not like about myself and increasing my negative self talk.

Once I started to rest in my own wellbeing, though, “working on myself” appeared very different. I began to get a glimpse of what self acceptance feels like. And paradoxically, the more I accepted myself, flaws and all, the easier it became to let unhelpful patterns go. 

When we feel insecure and are hard on ourselves, we cannot relax. Instead we become more closed off, defensive, we cannot truly open up. Shame, guilt, and insecurity keep us from noticing our own already-present Wisdom, and make it harder to trust the Flow of life. 

Criticizing ourselves (or being criticized) more often than not keeps us stuck.

Once my clients start to see this for themselves, they sometimes ask what there is to do…after all don’t you need someone to call you on your BS, to tell you what you are doing wrong, etc. Not necessarily. What I have experienced for myself and seen in my work with clients is that when you look in the direction of your wellbeing and practice radical acceptance, space opens up inside of you for your own insights. Often, when we can relax and accept ourselves, we begin to see our own patterns and we spontaneously let them go. As we regain our feelings of self love and acceptance, it becomes possible to face what we dislike about ourselves. As we stop identifying with it, we can let it go.

But sometimes, that’s not enough: we might indeed need someone to gently point to what we are doing that is not working. Even in that case, though, the more we rest in our own Wisdom and wellbeing, the more likely we are to be able to actually hear what our loved ones are trying to say. When we are in a state of defensiveness and insecurity, we often cannot hear other points of view, they are too threatening. 

Once I started to see this at play in my own life, it made sense to focus on being in touch with that deeper wellbeing that is already in me, that is always OK, no matter what. 

We all have that inner resource, you might just be momentarily not feeling it. With some practice, you can experience it more often than not. The more you experience this inner Source of healing and wellbeing, the more the work becomes one of acceptance first, a radical practice of acceptance of yourself, others, and the world.

From that place, engaging with teachings designed to improve yourself is a completely different experience. You can work on yourself from a place of joy, playfulness, lightness, drive, love, and purpose. You can take a break from self improvement and enjoy all you already are. You can share a new idea with a friend, and not take it personally if it doesn’t resonate with them. You can see the truth in the words of a loved one who points to something hurtful you did. You can authentically grow, not just up, but in depth as well.

After learning how to rest in my own wellbeing, the words of my friend came back to me: “Aurora, your only problem is that you think you have a problem.” And I could finally hear what she had been trying to tell me all along. She had recognized, before I could see it, that core within me that is within all of us that is whole and perfect as it is. 

That realization opened the gate of real transformation.

All my work is anchored in this deep understanding: whether you are looking to transform your life, grow your organization, or help others learn something new, I invite you to join me at one of my upcoming events. Together we explore what it’s like to live and work from a place of deep inner Wisdom.

About Aurora:

Aurora Meneghello is a Transformative Coach and Facilitator who works with individuals and organizations from all over the world. She supports clients in living a life of purpose and in creating organizations that awaken wellbeing and potential in their leaders and teams. Aurora is also the Founder of Repurpose Your Purpose, a program to help people change careers by using what they already know to do something new.

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