Thursday, April 3, 2014

Accepting Ourselves Unconditionally

"We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you."
- Marianne Williamson (Our Deepest Fear).

Less than a week ago, I engaged in lengthy discourse with a most interesting friend. Much later, I realized that one of the salient takeaways from our discussion was the pressing issue of unconditional acceptance, vulnerability and human frailty.

You see, we live in a very demanding world that continually seeks the best of us. We feel that we need to look our best, make the best impressions and continually project perfection in how we look, talk and do things.

Interestingly, we are not perfect. Human beings make errors, have frailties and fall short in many ways. I've often wondered why some people wear make up, subject themselves to painful and costly plastic surgery, and mask scars in a vain effort to portray themselves as something they are not. This, I believe, is due to a vanity that makes us feel unworthy as we are and unacceptable to both ourselves and others unless we present ourselves as something different and much better than we already are.

For a long time, I have always held the view that any person who cannot accept me as I am, anyone who fails to judge me on the basis of my knowledge and skills, such a person doesn't deserve my attention. Since I made a decision to no longer seek other people's approval in pursuing my goals, finding purpose and in the way I lead my own life, I have deliberately stayed away from persons who dismiss me on the basis of a myopic understanding of my current circumstances.

We need to accept ourselves as we are. We should understand that we are enough. True, we may feel vulnerable and exposed as our true selves. But that is what and who we are. Sugar-coating, pretenses and embellishment makes us more acceptable, but vastly undermines our true worth.

Following is a TED Talk on Vulnerability that Brene Brown delivered back in 2010.

In the video above, Brene talks about the power of vulnerability.
She ends her talk in a most profound way:
I'll leave you with this. This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult -- to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough," then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Here's the transcript to Brene Brown's TED Talk.


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