Making Peace With Who You Are
So here’s an existential question: have you made peace with who you are? It’s a very “yogic” question and one that’s been on my mind lately. If you’ve ever been asked that question before, your answer was probably a hesitant “uh, yeh”. And you were probably thinking, “Duh, I know who I am, and I’m good with me.” But did you really understand the question? What does making peace with yourself mean? And why is there an implication that to do so is difficult?
Why is making peace with yourself so difficult?
Let me tackle the last question first. Why is it difficult to make peace with yourself? Most of us have gone through our lives doing things that were suggested of us, trying to please others, and attempting to obtain impossible standards. We were taught at a young age to be nice to others, to share, and to respect our elders. And those were really good things.
But we also learned some things that were not so helpful. Somewhere along the way life became competitive. Suddenly we were not successful unless we were smarter, prettier, or more athletic. We had to look better than our classmates and our friends. As we grew, that belief of “I’m not as good as the other person unless…” was reinforced by everyday exposure to life. Maybe our friends said something that “stuck” with us. Maybe a teacher said something. Maybe a parent or a sibling made a comment. Then there was and is the media. For those of us that are older, what we saw in magazines or on TV influenced our physical self-image. The advent and prolific use of social media has done nothing but continue the skewed standards of physical self-image.
Our initial mental self-images are developed in our youth also. We are told to be strong, to “suck it up”. Crying shows weakness. We learn not to let others see our sadness. Asking for help is not an option. If you are depressed, there is something wrong with you. If you ignore your “bad” feelings, they will go away. The more these “facts” are repeated, the most we come to believe them as “truths”. Over a lifetime, they become our mental self-image.
Learning to accept yourself
So now that I have depressed all of you, what is there to do? How do we move away from things that we have been exposed to for a lifetime? The simple answer is to accept our selves as is. It sounds so simple, but it’s so hard to do. First we have to recognize we have been influenced by our past, both positively and negatively. Next we have to accept the positive. Then we also accept the negative as a positive. I know, that sound screwy, it doesn’t seem to make sense. But every negative we have experienced in our lives has a positive too. Every time we got mentally knocked down can be used as a learning experience. There is strength gained by overcoming a fall.
Once we realize the need of self-acceptance, we must also realize that it is very difficult to do on our own. Accepting yourself for who you are at the time, knowing that your past experiences make you who you are today, and accepting that one can be physically and mentally healthy without adhering to unreasonable standards can be a struggle. I know this personally. I also know that it is easier to do with the help and kindness of others. Start with letting those closest to you help. Allow your Yoga community to reach in and assist you. The goal of Yoga is self-acceptance and inner peace. When others accept you as you are, it is easier to gain self-acceptance.
So I am curious, have you made peace with who you are? ~ Namaste