It was about this time last year..
I was sitting near the lions in Trafalgar Square in London with one of the most important people in my world. It was dark and cold. I was at the peak of an existential crisis with my fear of death at its breaking point.
All he did was sit with me. His patient presence was enough to hold space whilst I worked through my fear of illness, the ending of life and the regrets of not having completed my life missions. I knew I didn’t need to rush. I knew I was safe to express one of my darkest fears. He was there and he would wait until the tears had stopped and the fear had subsided. They did.
A few months later…
Another winter’s night in Piccadilly, the city’s night lights sparkling around us. Another deep conversation with nothing held back. He looked at me. “Unconditional acceptance and support…that’s what I feel you give me.”
Over the last year and a half, I feel as though I’ve been learning some of the greatest lessons of my life, one of which has been about acceptance. Acceptance of myself, fully and completely, and acceptance of other people, wherever they are on their journey, whoever they are.
For me, self acceptance has been about remembering that I am a multitude of paradoxes, both light and dark, eternal and contingent.
I’ve been discovering that these paradoxes are not contradictory nor conflicting. One the contrary, these paradoxes co-exist. Sometimes, through conditioning and experience, we’ve learnt to ignore one side. But I’ve been learning that I can be both powerful and vulnerable, demanding and flexible, agreeable and disagreeable, free and responsible, take action and go with the flow.
My understanding of acceptance has developed as I’ve connected and worked deeply with other people. I’ve come to realise that in one form or another we all seek acceptance, desiring to be fully seen for what we are, yearning to put down the masks we wear, desperate to be heard.
The irony is that the more masks we wear, the harder it is to be loved for who we are.
What are we really giving when we offer acceptance?
This morning someone I’m working with said, “in these sessions, I feel I’m being given a level of acceptance I’ve never received before, even in childhood and infancy.”
In that moment I realised the true gift of acceptance. On one level, it allows someone to be truly themselves, free from the constrains of having to do or be something in order to be loved. In other words, it allows them to separate their self worth from anything external. They learn that their worth is intrinsic.
On another level, the space we create for another person to be completely themselves sets the groundwork for all their other relationships. It shows them what it feels like to be open, that it is safe for them to vulnerable, what becomes possible when they let go of the masks, how much brighter life becomes.
In giving acceptance both to ourselves and others, we open up to honesty, authenticity and love.
This journey for me has been about learning to listen and love. There’s still a lot for me to learn. Acceptance isn’t always easy and that’s ok too.
If anything in this post has resonated, touched you or triggered something for you in any way, please feel free to get in touch and share you experience by contacting me here.
Also published on Medium.