Whatever you accept begins to change. That’s the acceptance paradox in a nutshell.
I first started thinking about it after the first deadline for my self-love book. I’d worked on the book (and on myself) for about 8 months but I’d tried to write it in the same way I’d written my seven previous books. I’d know a little or a lot about a subject and then find scientific evidence to back it up.
I’d written on the mind-body connection. I knew, initially from my time as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, about the placebo effect and I also knew that meditation had physiological and neurological effects. I knew that people sometimes healed because of a belief or through a shift in their emotional state. So I found scientific evidence to back this up so I could reach lots of people and help them recognize their own power.
I’d also written on kindness and compassion. Again, I already knew that kindness could make us happier and that compassion was good for the heart, so I simply uncovered the research and shared it all in a book.
But writing ‘I Heart Me’ was different. Once I discovered what self-love actually was and the different ways it affects our lives, I realized that I didn’t have very much self-love at all. My self-love ‘deficit’ was having some real negative effects in my life. Writing a self-love book requires self-love and I was writing to try to obtain self-love. Working in this back-to-front way was really reinforcing that I didn’t have self-love… otherwise, why would I by trying so hard to obtain it?
Fortunately, my publisher recognized that I needed to do more work on myself and kindly gave me as much time as I wanted. That took the pressure off and I soon began to accept where I was in my life.
That’s when the real growth began. Acceptance was the key. Accept that it’s OK to not be healed, to not be a master of self-love, to not be as progressed as some other authors I knew, OK to have a lot of personal and emotional challenges, because, you know what?… that’s normal and it’s called being human.
Once I accepted myself, I began to change. The more I accepted myself, the faster I changed. It’s a version of whatever you look at disappears.
The theme has often emerged at my workshops and especially with regard to losing weight. Some people who want to lose weight and who feel they don’t have much self-love (not everyone, of course…we’re all different in our own ways) don’t want to love themselves because they fear that self-love will make them love themselves so much that they won’t want to change. Since losing weight has been such an important thing for them, the result is a resistance to doing any self-love work.
But this is where the Acceptance Paradox works. When you do accept who you are, and how you are, even make a start and try to find something good or beautiful in yourself, spontaneous change begins. This influx of self-love gives birth to inspired change. We start to make healthier choices.
Rather than self-love resulting in not losing weight through becoming so comfortable with yourself, self-love actually often leads to losing weight. But the very important distinction is that the weight loss isn’t in an attempt to be someone or something you’d love more, but originates from someone of something you’re starting to love, just as you are.
That’s how The Acceptance Paradox works.
Oh, and please know that I’m making quite a generalization here, touching on an issue that I know affects a lot of people. But I know others who would class themselves as overweight, but who are inspiring examples of self-love. I just wanted to make that distinction because overweight does not equate to low self-love. It’s simply something that is relevant to some people.
Copyright 2014 David R. Hamilton PhD.