What if another way to think about freedom or enlightenment is the complete acceptance of all parts of ourselves?
I could be the poster child for non-acceptance.
I had physical symptoms for many, many years. I could not accept them for the longest time. I resisted and fought my illness for so long.
I remember going to a psychic a few years ago and each time I went, I asked her what was going on with my body, why was I so sick? Every single time, without fail, she wrote ACCEPTANCE in big letters on her paper and circled that word over and over again. She handed me the paper and said, “this is what’s going on.” I was so angry. I didn’t want to hear that. I was also really confused. How the fuck was I supposed to accept something that I hated, that caused me so much pain? I couldn’t even begin to understand how I could possibly do that. I kept going back to her hoping each time to get a different answer. I never did.
Acceptance was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to fix this illness, to heal it. I believed there had to be an answer out there, there had to be a way to make this go away. That was all I wanted, that was all I dreamed of and prayed for, to be rid of this awful thing that was ruining my life and causing me so much suffering and misery. Acceptance was the last thing I wanted to do.
At the same time, I couldn’t deny that being sick had actually changed my life in a lot of good ways. It got me out of a job I hated doing, it physically wore me down enough to finally stop doing so much and take time for myself. Most importantly, it brought me to a place where I began to look inward for answers. It forced me to ask the big questions about life: Why am I here? Why am I suffering? And the biggest question of all: Who am I?
Over the years, little by little, I did accept myself and most importantly, the things in my life that I perceived as negative or unwanted. These were some of the hardest things to accept. Eventually, I even learned to not just accept them in my life but to realize that I was the creator of those things, especially the things that I hated. I realized they were all serving a larger purpose, a soul purpose, one that was usually beyond my conscious understanding at the time. Isn’t this part of what enlightenment ultimately is, realizing that you are God and the creator of everything in your life, the good, the bad and the ugly? Acceptance is the first step to embracing who you really are.
So I ask again, can we reframe how we look at enlightenment? Can we change the dialogue around enlightenment from one of an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect superhuman to one that is a human, but just a human that is in complete acceptance of themselves?
I know that saying this is a radical concept. There is a massive industry of self-help, healing and self-improvement products out there that would collapse if we all did this, if we all accepted ourselves, just as we are. I was once one of those consumers. But I finally realized that the search is endless and can never be finished. You can always find something about your human self that you need to fix. There will always be something that is not perfect, because the definition of perfect will always be changing.
Take if from me, a former self-healing obsessive who would do anything other than accept herself as is. As brutally hard as it is and as much as you want to avoid it, self acceptance is the only way. It is the only path to freedom. No amount of healing, cleansing, fixing or changing yourself will bring you to freedom. Let’s reframe the dialogue around enlightenment and embrace our human selves, ALL parts of them.