BY DAN HESS
If you’re like me, it’s easy to fall into self-judgment. I don’t read quickly enough. I’m not in good enough shape. A million other things, some supposedly in my control, others clearly not. Some things involve other people. I make a clever little comment at Starbucks, and the barista doesn’t smile. So I get mad at myself, or maybe annoyed at them. I vow to myself I’ll never try that again! These vows never seem to last very long.
We even judge ourselves while sleeping. Who hasn’t dreamt of some embarrassing situation, where they show up for something completely unprepared? Our mind doesn’t give us much relief.
At some point, we learn about the idea of acceptance. Acceptance of self, of others, of the world. It feels so inspiring to think about, and talk about. We can look in the mirror and stop judging ourselves. We are good enough as we are. And on second thought, maybe it’s not our job to entertain that barista after all, and not their job to smile. The world feels a little bit better.
Except something is wrong.
Acceptance is deceptively hard. Soon enough it becomes something else that we are not good enough at. We hear someone proudly talking about their own self-acceptance, and we get a guilty little lurch. It wasn’t enough! We feel like we are back at zero.
Once acceptance has become another unapproachable standard that we can’t live up to, it is time to put it aside for a while. We’re under enough stress already.
At the risk of giving advice: use ideas only so long as they help you. If they aren’t working for you, or even making things worse, move on to something else, no matter how noble the ideas sound, or how well they’re working for your friends. You could also give yourself a break from changing your mind altogether.
We’re all on this journey together, but that doesn’t mean we’re all going to find the same truths. I hope you find your path, no matter how it goes.
Dan Hess is a member of the MDSG Board.