I’m Easily Distant…Even Now

Now that I’m thirty, I feel more comfortable with myself than I’ve ever felt in the past.

I’m eerily familiar with that weird vocal quirk in my voice I’ve had since third grade that people occasionally remind me I still have.

I know exactly what I should eat for breakfast in the morning to keep me going for at least 3 hours and not make me groggy (right now it’s bananas and peanuts butter, and/or a green smoothie plus coffee. It used to be oatmeal). Boring, but necessary for me to know.

Vegetarianism is part of my soul. I can’t imagine eating meat ever again. For now, anyway.

I’ve gone almost platinum blonde kinda by accident since the summer (I suddenly decided to dye my hair myself for the first time, and after much trial error and purple hair it just kinda happened). And I love it. Right now, anyway ūüėČ

When I feel good, I feel really, really good. Overall my life seems to get better and better as I get older- I’ve always felt that way. I’m very much still working at feeling my best more often (I know it’s all waves), and tracking down major life goals that can help me move forward. I really want to master the subtle art of Not Giving A Fuck¬†about unimportant things, which we’ve talked about a lot on this blog….more than once. ¬†However, one of the things I’m really always working on, especially now that I know myself better, is being able to tell others what I need and want…after figuring out what I need and want.

It’s very easy for me to let friends, family, and significant others take the lead and pull me down their path without much resistance from me. I’m very good at going with the flow (something I really know about myself)- and that combined with a dislike of confrontation, an intense empathy for other people’s feelings, and a deep curiosity for other people’s habits and points of view can occasionally leave me feeling swept up in lives that are not my own. I can let others sweep me so far into their lives that I don’t even realize how distant I suddenly feel from myself.

I don’t know if that makes sense exactly or if it feels familiar to any of you. Or if you’ve outgrown this now that you’re in your thirties. But sometimes I’m the polar opposite of the ideal cool and collected thirty-something who doesn’t give a fuck. I used to give so many fucks about what other people thought¬†that my life became a guessing game and I thought I was the ultimate winner of knowing what people wanted. All I cared about was making my favorite¬†people happy and figuring out how to play their game correctly.

I doing so, I would sometimes lose what exactly I wanted and who I wanted to be. With my best friends, this didn’t really happen. But with acquaintances and romantic relationships, I would become distant from myself which would also lead to a certain distance from others. I couldn’t honestly communicate who I was and what I wanted because I myself wasn’t aware of what exactly I wanted. And once I figured it out, it felt scary to tell.

Sometimes that distance returns, even in my thirties. I find myself getting swept up in other people’s lives and dispositions once again, and I lose what I want and start to forget who I am. If I don’t stay in touch with myself by meditating, re-centering, talking to good friends, and expressing what I need, this old habit from the past seems to return.

It’s interesting that even though we can come so far by the time we’re in our thirties, those old traits from our younger days¬†can still seem to be lurking around the corner, waiting for a time to reappear and scare the crap out of us. For¬†now, anyway.

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Am I Any Closer to Self-Acceptance Yet?

Jane recently wrote two posts on Self-Acceptance: Radical Self-Acceptance and The Paradox of Self-Acceptance. In her latter post she asked a question that I ask myself almost every day:

“How do we completely¬†accept who we are, but also self-improve?”

I’ve grappled a lot with the idea of dualities: two ideas that seem conflicting, but actually go together.¬†In the road leading up to my thirties, I’ve desperately wanted to accept myself right now while still working on a better version of myself. This feels really hard to do without beating myself up for not yet being the person I’m working towards being.

Meditation, as Jane also mentioned in her last post, is definitely helpful. In fact, I believe that’s the main point of meditation- to get yourself into the now and accept yourself now, even while knowing that there is no choice but to grow and evolve. A lot of this is talked about in my favorite meditation podcast, Learn To Meditate,¬†from the Mediation Society of Australia (but I will also try Headspace. Thanks, Jane!)

How to self-accept yourself completely in the now but still change at the same time is one of those questions where the answer has always felt like a slip and slide; However, this year I found a great way to look at it which always brings me back to center:

Think about a tiny oak tree seed that will one day grow into a giant oak tree. The potential for a giant oak tree is always inside the small seed, but the seed hasn’t yet grown up into what it will be. Do we hate the seed for not yet being an oak tree? Do we beat it up? Do we say “why aren’t you a giant oak tree yet??” Of course not.

For the tiny seed to become a giant oak tree, time is always involved- plus water and soil and care. That’s the way it is and the way it has to be. There is no rushing it. There is only caring for it. All we can do is love and accept the seed for being what it is and let time, nurturing and growth take their course.

You can still accept yourself and know that you’re a small seed growing into a giant oak tree.

At the same time that¬†you¬†love the small seed that you are,¬†give yourself the nurturing energy, patience, and love needed to grow into the giant oak tree that’s been living¬†inside you the whole time. Your best self is already there!

 

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The Paradox of Self-Acceptance

Remember last week when I wrote about “Radical Self-Acceptance“? Yeah. Well. That’s really hard. I mean, duh. I knew that. But besides being hard, something always bothers me about this concept of 100% self-acceptance. ¬†How do we completely accept who we are, but also self-improve? This week, I asked my therapist this question. I asked him how to reconcile these two opposing ideas. He said that he gets that question a lot, which immediately made me feel better because clearly the answer (if there is one) is not obvious. Anyhow, I got kind of lost in his answer, but basically he said something about harnessing the energy of self-acceptance and “playing around with it.” Typing that now I realize it sounds kind of ridiculous, but in the moment it made sense. Or, some kind of sense. I think what he meant was that accepting ourselves give us the freedom to change things up and take risks.

Do you have any idea how to reconcile these ideas? I’m still working on formulating my own opinion, so I have nothing concrete to share at the moment.

Meditation has made me ponder these questions a lot more lately. A few folks have asked me where to begin with a meditation practice, and I’ve recommended this amazing app called Headspace. It’s free to start, and there’s a ten day free trial with 10-minute practices everyday. There are also neat little videos along the way that clarify complex concepts. The man who leads the meditations has an incredibly soothing, Australian accent and I believe he used to be the voice behind an app called Buddify, which I loved a few years back. It’s $12.95 a month after your free trial, but in my mind, it’s a small price to pay for solid, guided meditations.

To happy pondering and self-acceptance!

Self-acceptance

 

Radical Self-Acceptance

Do you mentally beat yourself up? Maybe you tell yourself you’re not doing enough, not working enough, not being the best you that you can be. I do all of that. A lot. For a long time, I thought the only way to silence this voice in my head was to simply do more. Work harder, write more, exercise more, eat more vegetables, meditate more, and on and on…

But in the past year, I’ve been trying to work on the idea that everything I am right now is enough. Everything I need to be I already am.

I think the thirties is the decade where we do more of this work than ever before – this work of self-acceptance. You realize that you have to embrace and accept your own imperfections. Those negative voices that tell you, “You’re lazy! Be more productive!” and “You need to do more” and all of those voices, don’t serve you at all. You have to be kind to yourself. I wish I knew exactly how to do it, and sadly I really have no idea. But I do know that it begins with loving all the parts of yourself – the lazy parts, the sad parts, the goofy parts, all of them.

‚ÄúClearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

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