There are millions of articles and books out there on how to be better, stronger, faster, wiser - you name it. When it comes to health, we're no different. With an illness, it's likely that we're focused on getting better, improving a situation and/or alleviating symptoms. There is lots of information on what to do and how to get better and what strategies to use. While that is all valuable information, we often overlook one of the most important aspects of living and even healing - which is acceptance.
Stay with me. It is enough for you to just be where you are right now, just as you are. Sometimes your body and mind need that.
In the hyper-productive, hyper-achieving world that we live in today, it is a radical act of self-love and self-preservation to accept yourself just as you are in this moment.
When I was beginning to practice being in my body through a mindfulness program I had signed up for, every fiber of my being resisted being present. It was counter-intuitive and actually felt quite harmful to attempt this. After multiple diagnoses of thyroid cancer, fibromyalgia and depression, I had learned to compartmentalize parts of my body and mind as an act of survival. I had learned to keep pushing forward no matter what, because if I stopped, I wouldn't be able to start again. And while this was a coping strategy at the time, I was also distancing myself from my body and its wisdom. And I was burning out.
It can be wonderfully liberating to accept yourself, your body and your mind as is.
Only by reconnecting with myself did I begin to recognize the anger I was holding inside and how pain was causing me to further disconnect from my body. It was only through truly beginning to accept my situation when I began to make peace with my body.
Life can and will be painful at times, but we don't necessarily have to suffer through it.
It's easier said than done. Accepting ourselves, our lives, our health issues and our reality doesn't just happen overnight. We've also been so conditioned by our surroundings, society, our beliefs that it often takes some guidance to recognize how we are moving through the world and what might need to shift.
Recognize where you need or want guidance.
I have sought support in moving through emotions and reconnecting with myself through meditation programs, mindfulness exercises, somatics and working with a social worker (these are all different things!). Many practitioners offer sliding scales as well depending on your financial resources and situation. While there are many tools and free programs out there that can supplement your practice, I highly recommend finding someone that you are aligned with and who can support you.
Reinforce messages of acceptance and keep supportive people close.
I recently had the flu and got a message from a relative saying that I needed to improve my immunity. Ahh if only it were that simple! Although often well-intentioned, it isn't helpful to be bombarded with messages, emails and articles about how to improve your immunity or what you "should" be doing for yourself. This is something that many people with chronic health issues have to navigate. You could try explaining why some things aren't helpful but if the person in question still doesn't understand why pushing you to be better isn't what you need at the moment, then refocus your energy on what does help you. Not everyone is at a place where they are ready to understand. Keep the people who understand and support you just as you are close.
Practice radical self-acceptance.
Radical Acceptance is about letting go of the illusion of control and a willingness to notice and accept things as they are right now, without judging. - Dr. Marsha Linehan. Sometimes you just need to be. It takes time for the body to know it is being given permission to just be, and for you truly embody this idea. And wonderful things can come out of truly accepting where you are at. It is a paradox of accepting what is, that allows for what you want. It's all about making space to heal.
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