The need for acceptance starts at an early age. We sit around the elementary school lunch table hoping one of the “cool” kids notices our new fashionable light up shoes and chooses to sit down next to us. In high school, we work hard to join a sports team so we can make a name for ourselves and receive the popularity that we so desire.
Our college years are spent “finding ourselves,” which sometimes can mean experimenting with all the wrong things because we are too afraid to stand up or become an outcast. Even as mature adults, we can't help but try to “fit in” among our coworkers or friends, so we tell stories to give us the name we know will receive approval and praise.
We may not all fight for acceptance the same way. Some of us take a different path. We rebel and run in the opposite direction doing everything we can to prove we are different. But if we dig down deep to the root of our behaviors, we often find that rebelling happens because we want to be accepted despite our differences.
Fitting in is a comfortable place to be. We fear change for many reasons, but it's inevitable. Growth must happen in our lives as we move forward, and we need to be intentional about changing our mission from “fitting in” to honoring who we are instead. When all is said and done, we only hurt ourselves when we fight against what makes us different.
Maya Angelou said, “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.”
Let's change the way we think about acceptance. Here are three ways we can stop changing who we are:
1. Get rid of the word “should.”
If we constantly tell ourselves we “should” be doing this or that, we miss out on simply being. While we pursue the “shoulds” that go along with the latest trends or get us the attention we want at work, we are missing out on developing the people we already are.
2. Know who you are fighting against.
The battle is not with others. The battle is within ourselves. Sure, when those kids in school chased us on the playground calling us names, we thought they were our enemy. And that boss at work who is never satisfied with us? He is the adult version of a bully. But when all is said and done, their approval means far less than our acceptance of ourselves. We must have enough respect for who we are that we don't fight what makes us different.
3. See the power in differences.
There is power in being unique. We all bring something different to this world that can only be used effectively when our unique parts are nurtured and not neglected.
Accepting the way we were created is a hard but a necessary choice to make. Only then can we feel joy and true acceptance from others.
Will you take the first step TODAY toward accepting yourself just as you are?