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Warts And All

The other night I had a “spiritual nightcap” with Robert Holden, author of the bestseller Happiness NOW, among others. Beyond his incredibly charming British accent and unassuming sense of humor, I was struck by something he said:

 He’s about SELF-ACCEPTANCE as opposed to SELF-IMPROVEMENT.

As those words came out of his mouth I could feel my cells relax, their little mitochondria just taking a long, deep breath and laying down for a rest.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the possibility of over doing it when it comes to personal growth. And Robert’s simple, elegant quarter turn from improvement to acceptance was the perfect thing to punctuate this particular line of thinking I’ve been following lately.

It is not possible to beat ourselves into any sort of lasting change. We cannot judge our love handles enough to create a six pack. We can’t berate ourselves for a low bank account balance enough times to create abundance. We can’t self-flagellate ourselves into sustainable happiness of any kind.

I remember when I was growing up when I would be beating myself up about something my mom would ask me:

“Can you love yourself for beating yourself up?”

What a radical question. “Is it possible to love yourself right in that spot that you’re finding unlovable? And if not, can you love the part of yourself that can’t find that part of yourself lovable?” A mind bender, yes. But your heart actually says yes to this one.

“The wound is the place where light enters you,” wrote Rumi.

The part of you that you find the most unacceptable is where the most fertile soil for love lies. It’s our deepest shame, the areas in our soul or psyche we find the most distasteful that provide the warmest invitations for love.

I’m a woman who’s spent a lot of my life thus far trying hard to look like I have it all together. And it is only from this perspective that I tell you with the utmost assuredness:

Ironically enough, it’s the parts of ourselves we find unlovable that make us the most lovable.

I’ve received the most love from others when I’m falling apart. I’ve felt the most held when I was losing it. Time and time again, my imperfection has been an invitation, a well-paved inroad for others’ love. And the best part about that is that bringing my whole self forward, warts and all, helps me love even the parts of myself that I’ve previously felt were unlovable.

Let your soft belly be seen in the sunshine.

Wear flip flops even though you hate your feet.

Cry in public.

Let your mascara smudge.

Tell someone the truth when they ask you how you’re doing and the truth is that you’re not doing that great.

When we invite others into our own imperfection we give them permission to not only love us, but also to love all the parts in themselves that they don’t feel measure up.

It’s easy to love the parts of yourself that are hitting your monthly goals, being a great mom, keeping your sock drawer organized, and staying on top of your inbox. Don’t stop loving those parts. They need you too.

But today, and perhaps tomorrow, and the day after too, see if you can shine a little light of love on an area that you’re just not proud of. Take a good long look at a part of you that’s simply despicable and say, “I love you.” Focus on acceptance instead of improvement and enjoy the sweet surrender that comes with it.

Join me and 11 other women for the Love Yourself Naked Video Summit September 10-22nd. Each day for 12 days you’ll receive a free 20-minute video from women like my friends KC Baker, Alisa Vitti, Meggan Watterson, and myself covering topics such as truth, vulnerability, desires, compassion, and prosperity.

Ready to love yourself naked? Join us.

  • Susan Motheral, PhD says:

    Don’t you just love Robert Holden? He is both adorable and brilliant and I have had the great pleasure of working with him for the past two years as part of Michael Neill’s Supercoach Academy. The insight that there is nothing to fix changes the whole game to one of grace and kindness. Yum!

  • ali Skylar says:

    Love it Kate. Warts and all… I work on being spiritually naked by working with the word bare as opposed to naked: Believe, Activate, Receive, Experience. Very nourishing when I feel naked in this manner as opposed to being “exposed”

  • Adrienne says:

    kate! this is awesome and something i think about a lot. radical self-acceptance. i love how you said that it is not possible to beat ourselves into any sort of lasting change. i have been doing exactly this for my entire life and then wonder why i cannot get anywhere. digging in and feeling and just being a big blob of imperfection, while at times painful and uncomfortable, is making a lot more sense these days than the obsessive compulsive thoughts of trying to figure out how to be less like myself lol. thanks for this reminder and for putting it in to such great context.

  • Ruth says:

    Sooo good Kate. I feel like taking a luxurious nap.
    Self Help has us assume that a part of us needs help or is not perfect. We are PERFECT and fabulous and amazing radiant light beams….. loving each “imperfection” as perfect itself.
    xoR

  • So good Kate. I love:
    “The part of you that you find the most unacceptable is where the most fertile soil for love lies. It’s our deepest shame, the areas in our soul or psyche we find the most distasteful that provide the warmest invitations for love.”

    I have walked around for most of my life hiding those zones of me, the most unacceptable parts and have the visceral and magnificent experience of finding gems and veins of gold in that territory. Thanks for this timely and rich post. Your writing is so vibrant. Just like you.
    xo Suzi

  • Gina Hunter says:

    Wow Kate. I so enjoy your openness and lightness in how you deal with such heavy topics. Instead of feeling like you’re dealing what’s in the gutter, it feels like whip cream in a tasty way! Thanks for adding value and please know that your light shines bright!

  • Scott Lepthien says:

    I have friend that says the three things that will make you happy are acceptance, acceptance and acceptance. I find that this is a practice does not end. The thing is that there are always new discoveries that I need to accept. And things I thought I had accepted but had only put them in a place where for the time being they did not bother me. I am not trying to improve myself, I am discovering myself. I am finally not scared to experiment and know it is OK. And that is because I can accept what is and the fairy tales in my head are not real anymore. I am OK just the way I am and I am changing all the time. There is a great TED talk that Brene Brown did on vulnerability that really helped me down this path. Thank You for this blog. And Thank You Suzi for pointing me here.

  • Peter Sutton says:

    “Their little mitochondria” ???….Love it!

  • Kate Gratwicke says:

    Dear Kate – what a relief it is to have you in the world letting us know that we are ok – just the way we are. I must admit to shedding a little tear reading your blog as your words rang so deep. I am a big junkie of PD blogs, books, CD etc – but this growing pressure of getting my shit together sometimes has just felt so overwhelming that I am left almost numb with indecision and a deep sense of pain. I still feel I have a long way to go – but maybe now, having heard you so sweetly, I can travel a little lighter – thank you so much for giving us permission to embrace our beautiful imperfections and travel at our own speed.

  • Johanna says:

    Love this Kate! At the end of the day, we are who we are and acceptance is key to embracing us and our fullest potential. I am the only person on this entire planet who can do the best job being me, so I might as well show up in the best way how to be me.

    Thanks! xo Johanna

  • Cindy says:

    So needed to see and feel the love in your post today. I will practice “I am.”

  • […] in the pit of my stomach something felt “off.” My most recent posts have been about loving yourself no matter what, the revolution of self-acceptance, and how sometimes you just have to take a break from growing […]

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