Why is it that some people seem to sail through difficult situations with dizzying levels of self confidence, achieving the seemingly impossible, while others stumble along the same path just barely scraping by? Self confidence is the reason why, and self acceptance is crucially linked to self confidence. But how does one get the desired package deal operating successfully together?
Difficult as it may be to do, accepting yourself exactly as you are at the moment is the most fundamental tool at your fingertips, should your desire be to move forward with an expanded sense of self confidence. When you are brave enough to be totally honest with and about yourself ‘warts and all’, then you automatically free up an enormous amount of energy. If you’ve been wearing a mask to help you make it through the day, then much of your vital force is being depleted by the energy and concentration it takes to present a different image of yourself to the outside world.
If you’re operating with a chronically low sense of self esteem, it can crucially withhold the vitality of your life force. The capacity for real intimacy with a partner or friends also deepens when you are willing to accept yourself as you are. The ‘warts and all’ approach to seeing yourself provides the springboard for moving forwards and bringing into your life what you actually want more of. The crucial trick is that it must be acknowledged first that you are just fine exactly as you are.
This type of self acceptance provides the incentive and the courage to delve deeper into personal relationships, whether they be with family, friends or with an intimate partner. Allowing a more positive sense of self esteem is vital to uncovering deeper layers of the personal peace you desire.
If a confidence building regimen is what you need, then self acceptance exercises are the place to start. These can be as light hearted or as deeply felt as you are willing to allow at any given moment. The simple act of looking in a mirror can bring up many feelings of frustration, coupled with an all-too-real vision of what is wrong with ourselves. We often see ourselves with critical eyes, looking for the flaws and the things we want to change, rather than acknowledging the brilliance that is already there, albeit perhaps lying dormant.
Stay looking at your image as you breathe deeply in and out. Allow yourself to feel love for the real image you see reflected in the mirror. Seeing yourself exactly as you are now, and not as you would wish to be perceived, can be daunting at first, but well worth it if you are willing to persevere with it.
Labeling and un-labeling
Set aside some time to allow yourself to go through your ‘labels’. Take a pen and paper and go through the big ‘labels’ in your life, the tokens by which you identify yourself. Start with the obvious ones, like gender, age, race, religion, parents, etc, then go on to acknowledge the labels the outside world uses to identify who you are.
Next make a note of all your mental and emotional beliefs through which you experience yourself: what do you feel about things? What are you passionate about? What are your thoughts and emotional beliefs about who you are?
Now have a look at what the masks are that you use in presenting yourself to the outside world. Do you wish to be perceived as in control? At peace? Funny? Carefree? What kind of work does it take to present this to the outside world? Relax for a moment and see if you can go to what lies beyond these masks of projected image. In that state of honesty, and breathing deeply and gently, pick up a hand mirror and see if you now appear any different. Is there a more honest side of you that you’ve just uncovered? Is this something the outside world (and you yourself) could see more of?
Now that you have established your sense of safety with this open and possibly vulnerable state, take a deep breath in and relax gently as you exhale. Move now into meditation, and see if you can keep that sense of openness available to you throughout the meditation. As you come out of it, see if your face has retained some of that openness and honest reflection of the true you. As yourself if it is something you can carry with you more often.