With the 2012 presidential election looming like a vulture over an antelope carcass, we often feel the need to justify our position on this important choice to those around us, especially our mates. We can often plead the fifth when others issue political proclamations, but when you start reviewing your ballot at the kitchen table and your husband walks in and says, “So, honey, who ya voting for?” It is difficult to say, “No comment.” Then, he disagrees with you and begins to give reasoned arguments about why your decision is irrational. You get defensive and say, “You are just like my father, who thinks, blah, blah, blah!” You then look at your ballot with self-doubt. You read a few more articles, but your opinion remains the same. Should you change your position because your husband is better at this and knows more about it? First, you need to get to a place where you can understand whether your position makes sense or is based on insecurities that go deeper, but really have nothing to do with a reasoned argument, then you can make a reasoned choice. Self-acceptance serves as an excellent way to know what you want and why you want it, freeing you from doubt when crucial decisions present themselves.
What is self-acceptance? Why is it important? If we deny any part of who we are, not only are we rejecting ourselves, but we are also making it impossible to improve. By improve, I mean have more successful relationships, and a more satisfying work life. In order to really change, we need to objectively look at the problem without judging ourselves harshly and being self-critical. We don't have to like what we see, or want to repeat it, but in order to really change, we must be willing to examine it from all angles. To that end, we must take a step back and observe, like a scientist observes an experiment. This means retaining a sense of self-love, despite whatever uncomfortable memories arise. Imagine how difficult it would be to truly have self-esteem, if we couldn’t analyze and correct our mistakes. We must also look at our parents’ mistakes and those who influenced us to avoid repeating them. This might require that we think about some painful experience, in order to come to terms with it, and figure out how it holds us back in our life.
Consider Debbie, a woman who lost her father when she was seven years old. Once grown up, Debbie often wondered why she was unable to stay in a relationship. She rapidly lost interest in any man she dated. She became indifferent, avoided talking, and eventually, the relationship would peter out. When she lost her father, it was too painful to talk about or to mourn. She was expected to just live with it. She was told to forget about it. By non-judgmentally focusing on her lack of feelings for the men she dated, and trying to be curious about it, she slowly came to realize that she was still, after all these years, trying to forget about her Dad's death, and just live with it. She had never mourned, and to this day, was still scared of being abandoned. She now suffered from serious difficulties trusting men. Instead, she left them by becoming indifferent before they could abandon her.