This is how I reached a place of self-acceptance
I felt uncomfortable about openly accepting that I was into spirituality around others, and it didn’t help either that I was shy and overly concerned about how other people would perceive me.
I recall a friend calling me one day and asking me what I had been up to, and I felt embarrassed to tell him that I had just come back from attending a talk given by a well-known spiritual figure (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar).
As I mentioned this to him, there was also a feeling of guilt, as if I had done something wrong or shameful.
There would be times when I was in college, when some of my friends would make fun of me for meditating and my interest in spirituality (albeit jokingly), yet this would bother me and make me feel uncomfortable.
Today, looking back at that period of my life, I can view it with a perspective and clarity I didn’t have back then.
For the longest time, I thought I wanted others to accept me for who I am. But what I really wanted more than anything was to accept myself. I mistakenly believed that I needed others to accept me before I could go ahead and finally accept myself.
The main reason I had trouble accepting myself was that I would judge myself for the various ways in which I was different from my family and friends (especially with regards to my interest in personal growth and spirituality). Almost nobody I knew personally was into the kind of things I was.
Interestingly, since I’ve become comfortable in accepting my spiritual side, I have noticed that the people around me have also become accepting of that side of me as well, which I believe is no coincidence.
One of the things I’ve learned from blogging publicly about spirituality and personal growth over the past two years is that people judge you FAR less than you think they do.
I thought I had learned to let go of self-judgement and accept myself. But then, a couple of years ago, I was back to square one and judging myself all over again when I stopped eating meat and drinking alcohol.
I’d notice that almost whenever I had to tell people that I don’t eat meat or drink, I would talk about it almost apologetically as if I needed to explain myself for my choices.
I now realise that self-acceptance needs to be a continuous thing that we need to practice, especially when we evolve into another version of ourselves which the people around us may not be familiar or comfortable with at first.
If our mind is on autopilot, it’s easy to fall in the trap of judging ourselves.
To let go of self-judgement, it helps to remind myself that I am under no compulsion to be like (almost) everyone else. And as long as I am not hurting anybody else, there is no reason to be apologetic for doing what feels right for me.
Most of all, it helps to keep in mind that nobody judges you more than you judge yourself. (Others are usually too busy judging themselves to care)
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