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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

My Stream of Consciousness Part 1: Self acceptance, prayer & philosophy

Hi there you beautiful beings of the blog-o-sphere!

Welcome to this new segment on my blog titled, 'My stream of consciousness' where I will quite literally be rambling on about whatever has come to my mind. It is not planned or scripted and quite frankly anything could happen. So buckle up, grab a cuppa tea and sit back and read the ramblings of an absolute amateur. Enjoy! x

Today, I want to share a few of my thoughts on self acceptance, and to delve a little into the topic of philosophy and prayer. As this post is entered around self-acceptance, I would like to begin this post by stating the following: *imagine me shouting it*

I am enough, you are enough, we are ALL enough.

Every single being on this earth is enough as they are, without any external source of validation. Simply being here, living and breathing, you are enough. In today's society are all wrapped up in this rat race. Here, I am not speaking of how we are constantly chasing after money, but how we are constantly chasing after this portrayal of success that the media and society has given us. We have become so caught up in trying to act and look and think a certain way, that we have forgotten who we are in the process, and have disregarded the importance of appreciating who we are, right now in this very moment. Our self-worth should not come from the amount of followers we have on our social media platforms, or from the amount of likes we get on a photo, or from the dress size we are. It should not come from how good our eyeliner application is or how many times a week we go to the gym, or from our relationship status, or from the number of cars we have or the holidays we go on. Our self-worth stems from within, and it starts with us learning to love ourselves and treating our minds and bodies as we would someone else’s, with love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness. There is a quote by a famous 13th-century Persian poet, named Jalaluddin Rumi, which I want to share with you all, “…you wander from room to room, hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck.” Essentially, Rumi is stating that we already have all the things that we are constantly seeking. All the qualities that we desire are already within us, and yet we go searching for more. If we were to realise that this were the case, it would help us to feel less insecure and reliant on other people’s acceptance, and we would not depend on other’s compliments to feel validation and feel self-worth. Perhaps if we were to stop seeking validation from elsewhere, we would live a far more peaceful and loving life. If we were to realise that the love we need the most is the love from within, we could start to focus our attention away from materialistic qualities and start to invest in our physical and mental health, and practise self-care.

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Now, I am not religious (not that I have anything against any religion), but there was one prayer which I came across a few years back when I attended a group therapy session, and it really struck me. The prayer is called the Serenity Prayer and it is often used in addiction recovery groups. It was written by the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). Though this prayer has religious purposes, I feel that it can be used by anyone. I used to be scared by the word ‘god’ as I didn’t know what to think or believe when that word arose in conversation or in morning assembly at school. I am not deeply religious, but at the same time I am not opposed to the idea that there is something of a higher power out there. I do not think it is a bad thing to hold on to something or someone in times of need who you can turn to and share your thoughts with and feel a sense of hope and relief in that moment of darkness. To me, by replacing the word ‘god’ with another word such as ‘universe’ or ‘friend’, I can start to make more sense of the notion of ‘god’, as it no longer becomes this mysterious unknown sense that I am trying to communicate with. For me, praying is simply a way for someone to communicate their thoughts, feelings and emotions in a safe and trusting environment. I used to think that prayer was some form of a religious vending machine. I witnessed people praying for cars or a bigger house or fortune, and these individuals expected the universe to hear them and to reward them with these materialistic requests. Here, I am most definitely not speaking about the entire religious community, only a small minority of individuals that I witnessed in prayer. However, this act of praying in such a self-indulgent and materialistic manner made me uneasy of prayer, as it was being misused in my eyes. For me, prayer is a way of getting ones thoughts out into the open, to making sense of my internal thoughts by making them into something tangible through verbal communication. It allows us to view our own thoughts externally, and to acknowledge what we are thinking or feeling from an outsider's point of view, and then we are able to unravel those thoughts and understand them further. Going back to the Serenity prayer, the prayer goes as follows, “God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” When referring to this quote, I remove the word ‘God’, simply for non-religious purposes. I read the prayer simply to mean, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things that can't be changed, the courage to change the things that can be changed; and the wisdom to know the difference between the things that can and cannot be changed.” This prayer, for me, helps me to remember that I cannot control some things in life and those things will remain the same, so I must accept this truth and learn to move on. It also reminds me that there are some things in life that are in my control and that I can change, but i choose not to. The reason as to why I do not change those things is because I am too afraid to. However, it is my choice as to whether I overcome this fear and help myself to lead a more self-fulfilled life. I must learn to recognise when I can change something and when I cannot, and to focus on the things that are in my control rather than focusing on the things that are not and will never be within the realm of my control.

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I must admit, I have always found it rather difficult to accept criticism and to accept that I cannot change everyone’s opinions of myself. I used to always try to change my ways of thinking, to change my appearance and my personality until I became a human shape shifter willing to mould into others’ ways of being, to be more widely accepted. I realised over time that I cannot please everyone, and it is not my duty to ensure that everyone likes me or agrees with me. There will always be haters, but there will also always be supporters, and it is within my control to listen to the voices of the supporters and ensure that they drown the haters out. What others say or think about me may not be within my control, but what I choose to take from their words is within my power, and it is my choice as to how I choose to deal with that criticism. I can either learn from it and use it to grow stronger or I can allow it to beat me down and destroy my confidence. It is also important to learn the difference between hate and constructive criticism. I used to take every single piece of criticism as negative, when sometimes people were just giving me constructive feedback and trying to help me develop. I would take things personally and to heart when they were not meant in a malicious way. I was using their words to feed my own negative talk and self-hatred. Over time, I have learnt to not jump to conclusions as much and to sit back and think about the words that have been said to me, and to separate my own insecurities from those comments and to decide whether it really was malicious or not. Most of the time, the comments are made by those who are simply looking out for me, and I have just projected my self-worth and insecurities onto them, when in fact the negative talk is not from them at all, it is from within. I used to always feel that self-acceptance equated to being conceited or full of oneself, and stating that you are completely and utterly fine. But the truth is that self-acceptance is simply accepting that where you are at right now is okay. It is learning to be comfortable with not being okay and accepting where you are in this moment. It is knowing you will not be stuck in this palace forever, but where you are stuck right now is acceptable. We must have gratitude and learn that our moments of darkness are simply a bump in the road. I like to think of our lives as a TV show, and each day is like a new episode. In some tv episodes, there are moments of darkness and chaos and the episode might finish with a dramatic cliff-hanger, and we wonder how on earth our favourite characters will make it through and recover. However, in the next few episode things are explained, relationships are mended and the drama dissolves and moves on. Our lives are the same, one day we may have a bad day where everything goes wrong and we think our life is over, and the next day we wake up and things are normal and we are able to move on and forget our worries of the previous day. We should not wish for life to rush past us, we should take each day as it comes and appreciate that the mistakes we make are learning curves and we need to have those learning curves so that we can then relish in those small or big victories that are yet to come.

The British philosopher Alan Watts famously stated that, “the only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” This quote resonated with me, as it is so easy to fight against change and become frustrated and tired, but if we accept it and embrace it and adapt to what is going on around us, in the long run it will help us to live a much smoother and happier life. There are some things that we cannot change, but the one thing that we can change is our mindset. Our minds are the most valuable part of ourselves and we must nourish and take care of our mental-health. Going back to Watts, another of my favourite quotes of his is, “all that you see out in front of you, is how you feel inside your head”. This quote really hit home for me, as he is essentially reminding us of the fact that we often project our own insecurities onto others and live our life through glasses tinted with insecurity and self-doubt. Life is what we make of it, and it makes far more sense to focus on trying our best to enjoy it and make every moment count, than to spend every waking moment worrying about what we may or may not have done.

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Those are just some of my thoughts, and I'd like to hear about some of yours, please do share in the comments below! 

- Olivia Charlotte Alice 


1 comment

  1. Pummell10/06/2017

    This is so beautifully written and exactly what I'm trying to figure out at the moment. Being able to accept myself for who I am in the present. Any tips how to do that?

    Keep going, this is awesome!



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