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Unconditional Self-Acceptance

I love our country, but I’m not referring to the United States of America in this blog post.  Instead, I want to talk to you about another USA – Unconditional Self-Acceptance.

This is a theme that’s come up most frequently in the mindfulness sessions I’ve had with weight loss patients recently.

We’re in the midst of a global trauma.  We know this on some level – we’re quite familiar with the changes that affect us directly, like being homebound, being physically closer to family and with much less alone time than usual, etc.  However, it sometimes eludes us that we’re also in the middle of an epidemic that deeply affects every single aspect of our world.

Without adding commentary, I’ll just share the statistics: at the time of this writing, over 50,000 people in the United States alone have passed away (16x the number that died in 9/11); jobless claims total over 26 million, the highest in US history; the US GDP is expected to drop between 30-40% by the end of Q2 2020.

We’re not merely adjusting to working from home; rather, we’re trying to survive this global trauma while caring for our families, homeschooling our children, maintaining our emotional stability, and working from home.

If you’re a Sound Medical Weight Loss patient, you’re also trying to maintain your active lifestyle, stay on plan with your nutrition, and remain mindful all the while. 

It’s a tall order.  An order that should come with a mile-high pile of grace.  Grace for yourself, grace for others, and forgiveness all around.

And yet… what I hear most from the patients with whom I’ve been meeting over the last few weeks is the complete opposite. 

I hear self-judgment because they’re struggling with lack of focus.

I hear verbal self-flagellation because they’re struggling with lack of motivation and energy.

I hear so much self-hatred and shame because things feel different, or harder, or for having to adjust.

This is why the topic of unconditional self-acceptance or USA, comes up so often in my sessions.  Simply put, USA is just the act of accepting ourselves exactly for who we are.  Not some aspects -- every aspect of ourselves.  Accepting the parts we like, the parts we don’t like, the bright sides, the shadow sides – all of it.  Accepting every chapter of our books as they’re written.

While it sounds wonderful in theory, many patients find it difficult to put into practice, being all too used to the shame and blame cycle they turn to when they’re in crisis mode.

One phrase that comes in handy is this: “Anything I think, feel, say or do is perfectly understandable.” 

It’s understandable that you may be struggling with focus during a global trauma.  It’s understandable that your energy may be waning or that your motivation may be harder to come by some days when surrounded by messages of so much tragedy.  It’s understandable that you feel what you’re feeling – whatever it is. 

If someone else were in your shoes, they’d feel the same emotions.  If someone else were in your position, they’d have said the same things. 

Keep saying that phrase and you’ll begin to see what unconditional self-acceptance is.

The phrase doesn’t get you “off the hook,” though – it doesn’t give you a pass from your workout routine for the month, or let you mistreat a family member – but it does stop the cycle of judging yourself, which only serves to make whatever you’re feeling a lot worse.

Some other things that help with unconditional self-acceptance:

  1. Catch yourself when you find yourself rating or judging yourself – what do you notice? Is it around a particular behavior, time of day, or activity?  Share it with a trusted friend, spouse, or journal about it.
  2. Add a mindfulness-based practice into your daily routine. Meditation does the trick for me, but yoga, breathwork, and other modalities work well too.
  3. Focus on your inputs, not on your outputs. I discuss this at length in a recent blog post; have a read and let me know what you think in comments.
  4. Create a list of things that energize you. Refer back to it when you’re feeling especially demotivated or need a boost.  Make this list when you’re in an especially calm, present mindset.
  5. Create a list of things that help you focus. Refer back to it when you’re struggling to focus or need help in this area.  Make this list when you’re in an especially calm, present mindset.
  6. Remember that unconditional self-acceptance is especially impactful and important for kids. You are modeling behavior for your family.  Here’s a great article on USA and parenting.
  7. Some more recommended resources: a Psychology Today article, a book by world-renowned self-compassion researcher Dr. Kristin Neff, and a podcast episode with Dan Harris and Dr. Neff.

 

If you need more one-on-one support, Sound Medical Weight Loss is here for you.  We provide telemedicine visits, Zoom mindfulness coaching sessions, and monthly mindfulness group classes.  Call or book online today.

Author
Mariel Ilardi  Mariel became a weight loss coach with SMWL after being a patient herself -- having lost 65 pounds through the program! In addition to coaching SMWL patients, Mariel is the founder and CEO of Haven Coaching, an executive and career coaching company.

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