Last night a friend gave a presentation to the group at Project Forward -- a personal development, goal setting course I give at the shelter where I work.
One of the things he said after talking to the group about his experience of learning to love himself was, "It's easier to learn self-acceptance than self-improvement."
I like the idea of self-acceptance more, that's for sure. Self-acceptance means accepting me where I'm at and learning to love myself, warts and all.
Self-improvement is linear. To me, it feels like a map with a clearly marked out trail, complete with sign-posts and most importantly, a destination.
Life is not a destination. It's an event. I can make it a joyous event filled with moments worthy of popping champagne corks and confetti, or I can make it a dirge, a constant travail of darkened windows along a dusty road strewn with discarded teddy-bears with sawdust hearts.
It's up to me.
In self-acceptance, I make a choice. To be who I am, as I am, not as who I want to be -- but rather as who I know myself to be in this moment, completely, joyously, lovingly.
In self-improvement I make progress towards an ill-defined goal I know I need to reach, but am often unsure what it looks like. Self-improvement begins with an idea that I'm broken, messed-up, in need of brushing up, brushing off, brushing over.
French author and essayist, Andre Gide, wrote, "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
In self-acceptance, discovery comes from looking at myself, exactly the way I am. From taking my eyes off the horizon and moving into the deep and mysterious seas of self. In self-acceptance, I let go of measuring myself against the world, out there, and embrace the measure of my spirit where I'm at.
For today, I will move into accepting myself, just the way I am as I embrace the truth, I can always learn and grow and change through focusing on what works in my life and what doesn't work.
I can improve on what I do by making the events of my life a joyous celebration of all that is great in me. I can't improve 'on me', I can improve my actions, my commitment to doing all that I can to be the best me I can be. Once I accept the awesomeness of my spirit, right now, in this moment, I have the power to do anything my mind can conceive. I have the power to be magnificent. To shine brightly. To be centre stage of my very own, one and only life.
The question is: Are you focused on improvement out there, or do you accept you have all you need to be the magnificent human being you are, right within you?