Stories about ourselves and about the world continually arise in our minds and shape our beliefs about reality. Some of these stories lock us into limiting beliefs and others move us toward freedom. They are uniquely different as each of us experiences gain and loss, honor and dishonor, success and failure. Even the most deprived person knows moments of ecstasy; even the most successful person knows moments of despair.
Most of us grow up with a damaging story that something is wrong with us, and the conditioning is very strong to keep generating self-demeaning stories. It was the painful experience of losing everything and being imprisoned that gave me such a deep resolve to embrace myself. This did not mean that I was going to ignore my flaws, but in the deepest way, I was not going to fixate on the conclusion that something was wrong with me. It is all about skillfully regarding our stories and not getting caught in them, in recognizing when we get caught in our mental dramas.
Because we have such a deeply-grooved habit of rejecting ourselves, I find that emphasis on the word “acceptance” is central to healing. It brings our attention to the possibility of saying “yes’ to what we are experiencing in the moment.
In a basic way, acceptance is seeing clearly what is happening and holding it with kindness. This is a radical antidote to the suffering of a judging mind. Ultimately, our life story is about discovering the freedom of being without anxiety about imperfection and living a life of greater joy and integrity.