“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“Just be yourself.”  I don’t know how many times I have been given that piece of advice.  Apparently most people find me to be an alright guy so they remind me to be myself.  I will admit there are some parts of me I like.  I like my ability to listen.  I like my ability to understand people.  I like that I care about others and want the best for them.  I like that I can see strengths in people and find ways to help them expand on those.  I like that I had Lasik surgery and don’t have not needed to wear glasses the last 10 years after wearing them for 25 years of my life.

I used to like my hair.  It was rich and full and blonde.  My eyes aren’t as good as they were 10 years ago.  The pain in my knee reminds me a knee replacement is likely in my future.

And then there are all the things I don’t like.  Oh man, too many to list here and I am the very worst critic of myself so it gets pretty daunting.  That leads me back to the quote by Hanh above.  How often do I live by what is or by what I perceive to be others acceptance?  How often do I imagine what others are thinking?  How often do I tear myself apart because I do not feel I met someone’s expectations?

Acceptance of self may be the biggest hurdle some people ever overcome.  I grew up in a religious environment where the message I heard (maybe not what was said but what I heard) was that I was never good enough for God.  I couldn’t accept myself as his child.  I couldn’t accept myself as good enough.  I will never forget when a dear friend of mine told me, “God has never been ashamed of you.”  He said the right words at the right time.

Acceptance of self is critical to truly healthy living.  Accepting that the way I was created, shaped, formed and what I was given is perfect for me means I will begin to see the beauty of me.  I see it so easily in others yet it’s so hard to see in myself.

Learning to accept self is one of the hardest lessons I will learn.

Learning to accept self is one of the greatest lessons I will learn.

Grace and peace.