Radical self-acceptance goes beyond mere self-esteem and opens us up to divine love
At the beginning of each year, we put great effort into making resolutions and trying to change ourselves in order to be happy.
We tell ourselves that if only we were thinner or looked younger, smarter, nicer, or prettier, we would be loved, worthy, and would fit in society.
We may have never thought that accepting who we truly are, and all of our human experience, is the greatest gift and the surest route to happiness.
Opening Our Hearts to Divine Love
We all yearn to be loved just as we are. Love that is “earned” feels hollow and does not truly satisfy us. We want to be loved unconditionally.
The way to experience total acceptance of our self is to open our hearts to the divine love already within us in the present moment.
The deepest desire of our hearts is to experience the fullness of God’s love, which is freely given. But because we are conditioned from birth to believe that the love we seek must come from someone, or something outside us, we think it must be earned.
We go through life seeking deep satisfaction from people, places, or things. Our very identity forms around the strategies we adopt to get the love we seek.
Only when we let go of the attachment to our own ego—our personal sense of self or concept of “me”—do we fully experience God’s love.
Our personal concept of self is based on time: what happened to us in the past or our plans for the future. Nothing that is based upon the concept of time—people, places, or things—will bring the satisfaction we seek.
The only way to perceive divine love is to be fully open and present to this moment; fully accepting our experience of life right now. This is the practice of radical self-acceptance.
God’s love is always available in the present moment—but most of the time, we aren’t! Divine love hasn’t left us, but we leave it every time we abandon the present moment. We seek self-acceptance and love as if they were commodities that can be acquired, like a car, a degree, or the house of our dreams. But this desperate seeking separates us from fully accepting our self in the present moment.
Right here, right now is the only place where we can find what we desire most.
We seek self-acceptance and love as if they were commodities that can be acquired, like a car, a degree, or the house of our dreams. But this desperate seeking separates us from fully accepting our self in the present moment.
Embracing Radical Acceptance
Radical acceptance of the here and now is a form of Divine love—the most transformative power there is. The practice of radical self-acceptance begins when we stop looking for love in the future and accept our experience of life in this very moment.
We fully accept each life experience without resistance, analysis, interpretation, manipulation, or control. We experience each sensation, emotion, and thought completely, without judgment, and then we let it go. If it is difficult to accept what is, we can accept our own resistance to that situation. With deep acceptance, we will see that the part of us that is aware of our resistance is itself free of resistance.
Radical self-acceptance does not mean we enjoy every experience that arises. Acceptance is not the same as liking something. It also means that, while I accept my present internal experience completely, I act ethically and responsibly in the world.
The word radical is derived from the word “root.” We can find the love we seek at the very root of every experience. That which is true can be found only in the present moment.
As we bring awareness, acceptance, and openhearted kindness to each present moment experience, the quality of that experience begins to change inside us: Love takes root and begins to blossom from within us. As we accept our self, we begin to see we are the love we are seeking!
We find it easier to share the love we are with others. In fact, we find great joy in doing so. Just as a mother loves her newborn child, we find it natural and deeply satisfying to love others. We feel gratitude for the opportunity to share with others the love arising from deep within us.
Eventually, we see that it is not “our” love at all, but universal love, inseparable from life itself, that moves through us.
As we bring awareness, acceptance, and kindness into every experience of our lives, we find ourselves becoming joy-filled channels of the ever-present love; this is the experience of radical self-acceptance.