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Step 2 - Accept Myself (again)

Picture credit plbmak To add the type and culture perspective to what I had written 5 years ago, I'm still working on accepting that my mannerisms actually come across a lot harsher than I want them to.

Interaction Style teaches that ENFJ fall into the "In-Charge" style, with a directing rather than informing communication style. Looking at straightforward speech through the culture lens, it makes perfect sense to me to tell it like it is. That saves time, everybody knows what they're supposed to do, leaving little room for misunderstandings. Organizations like Toastmasters help me practice finding a balance between the two styles; directing when called upon to do so, and informing when I care about all group members and wish to motivate and inspire.

All types have inherent strengths and all cultural preferences have their natural habitat. Cultural behaviors evolved because they were the best response to the environment's situation, securing survival of the species and adaptation to the surroundings. I know it is impossible to be liked or respected by all, to fit in everywhere, and to always do the right thing in any given situation. But there's still a little voice inside of me that says, "why not try, though?" Very stressful.

So, self-acceptance: work in progress. Here's a great inspiration I heard at a recent Toastmasters meeting: 12 words that will change your life.

Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.

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Step 2 - Accept myself

This step has always been a little tricky for me, because although I see all sorts of shades of gray everywhere, at first glance I'm more comfortable if I can categorise into either black or white. In this case, I need to find the fine line between feeling good in my skin and still being open for improvement and learning that works for me. I guess for many women (and an increasing number of men), accepting our body is the one thing we can't seem to achieve whole-heartedly. We accept our parents, our friends, our spouses, our children, even our children's teachers the way they are - amidst the occasional grumbling, granted - but generally we don't try to change them. We love the people close to us for who they are, not for what they look like. In a society with a multi-billion dollar weight-loss and plastic surgery industry, I can't help but wonder - when are we going to love ourselves for who we are? In my ideal world, I think one possible solution to the never-ending new year's resolution of dropping x-amount of pounds is this: educate yourself. Raise your children in a way that allows them to build a healthy self-esteem, and teach them about the marvel that is the human body. I find it hard to believe anybody would fill their temples with the malnutrition that is fast- and processed food on a regular basis if they were aware of what it's doing to their arteries and inner organs in the long run, never mind cellulite. While I'm dreaming, here's to hoping our governments will find a way to subsidise organic fruit, whole grain and vegetable farms instead of the sugary and fatty foods producers they favour now. This would make finding unhealthy foods that much harder (I know) but also drastically reduce temptation. Imagine watching a TV movie without constant interruptions of fast-food advertisements? Bliss! Ok, that's probably another handful of decades away, but nobody thought it would happen for cigarettes either, did they, and numbers for obesity-related deaths can't be that far behind its nicotine counterpart.

What's the worst, then, that could happen if I truly accept and start loving myself? In a way, the sentence can be misunderstood as "I'm great, there's no need to change." That is not my intention here. There will always be victories to celebrate, and there'll always be room for improvement. Accepting myself means "I accept that I am not perfect, and I don't have to be." I have character flaws and feel insecure about the size of my behind, and that's ok. I recognise the paradox between needing to accept my human form and yet continuously striving for betterment, and that's ok, too.

Consequently, the best things about accepting myself are feeling adequate in every situation, not comparing myself to others but creating my own standards; knowing and respecting my limitations, and treating myself with the same love and consideration I have for my best friend.

Til next time!

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