The power we deny

July 17, 2022

Ali Rohde


People fear that if they accept themselves, they won't change themselves. They won't improve.

You can't possibly accept your flaws, because then how will you get rid of them? Being angry and frustrated at yourself provides motivation to change. Accepting yourself is like waving the white flag, dooming yourself to a less-than version of the self you want to be.

But is that true? Does accepting yourself mean that you won't change. Can you both accept yourself and still want to change?

When have your biggest changes come about? Have they happened after you've attacked yourself for days, weeks, or months? Or have they happened in moments of levity, happiness, or joy? When you feel some progress and possibility? When has it been easiest to take the biggest chances? Is it when you're the most down?

It does seem that it is when you do accept yourself -- imperfections and all -- that you have the opportunity to change things.

I'm not totally sure why. But I know this is the case, at least for me. I can get to a state where I'm so down on myself that I can't even move forward. I want to improve so badly, and yet I do just the opposite. I become stuck in place.

There's always going to be a gap between our reality and our ideal. That's what lets us improve. We all want to improve -- that's a part of being human. But if we always feel bad about not being in that perfect state, then life is torture. Why are we torturing ourselves when it doesn't even work? When did we all instinctively accept negative reinforcement as the most effective method? Why are we clinging so hard to negative reinforcement? Why is negative reinforcement so damn hard to release?

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