Appreciation as a Tool For Growth
My mum taught me appreciation. I’m ever so grateful for the awareness of this powerful tool. It’s like a muscle that takes training to strengthen but once it becomes ingrained, it is a total life changer.
Lately I’ve been battling with the apparent paradox of self-acceptance versus self-development. I had a story that being critical of myself would help me grow but unfortunately, this only led to unattainable shifting goals and constant unhappy comparisons.
These days I practice radical unconditional self acceptance of both my flaws and virtues. It doesn’t mean I approve of my flaws, it just means that my self acceptance isn’t conditional on achievement of my ideal self. Rather than hiding my shadows and flaws, I now acknowledge and even calmly share the aspects of myself that I am embarrassed or ashamed of. This openness removes the power of the shadowy aspect to do any harm.
When I identify an area of my life that I would like to improve, the first thing I do is some appreciation as there is no growth without awareness. Next, some radical self acceptance because it is understandable that I need improvement in this area.
Then I have a choice. I could focus on the gap between my actual and ideal self and think about what I lack or I could appreciate the skills I already have and the efforts I have already made towards this ideal version of myself. Whichever aspect I choose will increase so this is an important consideration.
For example, if I identify self discipline as an area of my life to work on, the first thing to do is appreciate my awareness and accept myself as I am right now. All of the things that have ever happened to me and around me have led to the level of self discipline that I have right now. I treat myself as I would a dear friend and compassionately forgive myself and others, knowing that we have all done our best. Then I choose to appreciate how much self discipline I already have and use that as a basis to work from and grow.
If I focused on my lack of self discipline, this is what would grow. I would feed stories of how lazy I am and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, my self discipline would reduce. My experience has told me that I would rather be correct than happy. I need to align my “correct” with things that serve me and those around me the best.
So even if you only have 12% self discipline, this is where to focus your energy and attention, not the 88% “slack” side of you.
Celebrate your success and be compassionate as you grow and you can turn your life around. It’s well worth it. Your future self will thank you.
I am a rational, secular, humanist, personal developer. I am a semi-spiritual, men’s work advocating, feminist, musical, meditative man. I am a work in progress. I tenaciously strive towards my authentic, ideal self, seeing it as a compass point rather than a destination. I compassionately accept the perpetual gap between my actual and ideal self as I appreciate how far I have already travelled. I take opportunities, appreciate my virtues and own my flaws and shadows. I am committed to a deep sense of purpose to create a world of safety by helping people improve their relationships with themselves and others