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I am what I am. – Popeye

Friends of mine used to tease me about being the “self-help book guru”. I always wanted to be better, more, different, – always something to change or fix. I have benefited from the work, but have realized that sometimes, just accepting who I am, can free up energy around negative limits and ideas I have of my self.

Would it be so terrible to say “I am me.” and not have a list the length of  your arm of things that you want to improve? How would the ever-present critical inner dialogue change, if we would just hug everything, instead of focusing on the flaws?

I remember watching SNL and mocking Stewart Smalley for his “I’m good enough, I am smart enough, and doggone it people like me!” But maybe Stewart was on to something. Self acceptance is key to being content in the world. If I can’t accept my humanness how can I be authentic in accepting others? If I can see the love in others, why not in myself?

The most humbling revelation for me was that when I was younger, people often rejected me for having cerebral palsy. Today, people don’t do it as much, yet the messages replay in my head often. Truth is, I reject myself and treat myself more harshly than any of those people in my past ever did. Maybe not for disability related issues, but definitely for my humanness, and imperfections. The inner conflict is what needs to change.

I have many people in my life who have tried to be kind and loving to me. My past experience has often made me distrust and question everything. I still find myself reacting to the past, not living in the present. I know I am not unique in this. I find myself closing my heart before I get hurt, and I have a huge fear of being vulnerable with too many people. My network is small, and “safe”.

I wonder if I just threw caution to the wind and trusted, what would happen. Children are my teachers in this area. They trust first, ask questions later. They laugh with their whole body. They accept easily. They forgive freely. They are who they are, and let go of the rest.

How can you foster greater self acceptance by being around children and seeing life through their eyes? Be who you are, and watch life unfold with ease.