HeartNote, February 4, 2020: One from the Vault: Self Acceptance

Years ago, Dr. Leo Buscaglia wrote the book Love. It's an absolutely beautiful book, based on the stories and experiences from a course he taught at the University of Southern California. He called the class "Love, 101.

He often told the story of a group of students discussing that week’s assignments. During a discussion about self-acceptance, a young woman had shouted out the word, “Insight!" It was Dr. Buscaglia's rule that if a student came upon an awareness or a new perspective about an issue, they had permission to scream out that word and share with the class what they had just learned. Hearing this, the rest of the students paused and waited quietly for her to speak.

“I'm not a banana,” the woman said. The rest of the group, startled, broke into soft giggles. When they saw her begin to giggle too, they all burst out into laughter.

“What I mean by that is, for a long time, I've tried to be a banana. I've tried to do everything I could to make myself into something I'm not. To carry this metaphor forward a little further,” the young woman said, “I'm more of a plum.

“What I’m saying, I guess, is that I’ve tried to be what other people have wanted me to be for a long time. Instead of accepting the fact that I'm small and round and purple, I've tried to stretch myself, reach outside of myself, and even try to paint myself a variety of different colors.”

Not a sound was heard among her classmates. A few had tears in their eyes. “I know,” she continued, ”that this may not be the most graceful metaphor, but I can't be tall, tanned and sleek. No matter how I try, no matter how I change my outside appearance or my inside substance, I will always be a second-rate banana."

“I'm a plum. And if I can truly accept myself, I'm going to be the best plum I can be. I know I can do that well. And I hope that I find people in my life that really appreciate plums. Because I just can't be a banana anymore and stay on the path of genuinely loving who I am. I'm going to be a plum all my life."

If you really want to enjoy your life tomorrow, love yourself today.

And self-acceptance isn’t giving yourself a pass on the things you did today. It’s just acknowledging that you’re still OK and, for the most part, you did your best. In spite of all your fears to the contrary, you’re good, you have meaning, and you belong here. It is a basic tenet of humanity. If you exist, you matter. Make accepting yourself a part of this existence.

And you’re not alone in this struggle. We are all climbing Jacob’s Ladder. We are all “Bozos on this Bus.” We are making our best effort. And we screw up. We fall short. We feel badly. That critical voice inside of our head seems to be equipped with a really big bullhorn, the one police use from a helicopter.

Self-acceptance means we keep our perceived weaknesses in perspective. We all are who we are. The things that we criticize ourselves about are the same thing that everybody else does, too.

Whenever I become self-critical, I hear a voice in my head of a dear teacher saying, “Don’t say that about my friend.” She reminds me to be kind to myself, as kind as we would be if we were talking to our friend. It’s such a beautiful gesture.

A person who knows you and loves you would describe you positively. Now all you have to do is be that person for yourself. This is what self-acceptance is about.

Self-acceptance is the ability to embrace all aspects of yourself. Nobody's perfect; we all can change for the better. We all have weaknesses, problems, and have made big and small mistakes. To accept the parts of yourself that are less than perfect because happiness and self-acceptance go hand in hand. Your level of self-acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you'll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy.

Excerpt From: “A Coach for your Heart.” Apple Books. ”


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