A friend asked me the other day if I've always been the way I am. (generally speaking). My response was no, I haven't been. Sure, I've always been independent and driven and disciplined. I've always been creative, I've always loved reading, and I've always adored fashion.
But I've definitely evolved.
Though I've always had a fire and open mind, I've learned to soften one and strengthen the other. (You should've met me when I was a walking paradox of a kid: extremely polite and sweet, yet a total and complete spitfire!) I learned to tame the fire (not extinguish - gotta have some!!!) but not be so hard on myself and others. I polished the rough edges, so to speak.
I learned to channel that fire more constructively. I learned to allow myself and others more grace, and realized all you can do is your best. In the words of the legendary Tony Horton, "Do your best and forget the rest." I learned to catch my breath every once in awhile, to celebrate victories and high five myself and others.
A key element to lasting happiness and success is our capacity to evolve. To not only recognize our areas for growth, but to act on them. It's not enough to just acknowledge where you could use some work. You must actually step up and do something about it. It's seductively easy to just cop out by saying, "That's just the way I am." Don't confuse self indulgence with self acceptance. You're doing yourself - and others - a disservice by robbing the world of your potential. Not only that, you're preventing your level-up and all the bliss and amplified success that brings!
To clarify: You should absolutely accept yourself where you are. You must love - not hate - yourself to improvement and happiness. It's much easier and more enduring and effective this way, TRUST ME.
But please don't just fall back on a mistaken "self acceptance" crutch. "I have a bad temper - that's just the way I am." "I'm a jealous person because of XYZ." "I lash out when I'm stressed." "I'm pessimistic - I've always been that way." First of all, snaps for acknowledging that. Second of all...whatchu gonna do about it??? In the nicest way possible, so what?! Why are you not doing something about it? What's keeping you from working on it? It's not about the hand you're dealt (we all have crappy cards in our stack - some more than others) it's how you play it.
As I discussed in an earlier post, we all have shadow sides. All of us have aspects about ourselves we and others may find less than desirable. What sets the truly happy and successful people apart from the unhappy and struggling people is simply the shadow work. Being willing and able to be honest with yourself and not let yourself off the hook. Being gentle and honest with yourself is a fantastic start, but it doesn't stop there. Why not take yourself as far as you can go?!
One of the attributes I like most about myself is my inclination to not only recognize my flaws, but to strive to eliminate/strengthen them. Very rarely do I have bad days or lasting bad moods, and I attribute this to my commitment to my personal evolution. I dig deeply to uncover why I have the struggles I do. I determine cause and effect, and reflect on ways I can mitigate/improve/eliminate these struggles.
In the past, I was less than nice to myself during this process. My inner voice could be pretty scathing. What helped me transform it into an enjoyable (no, really!) process was to re-frame it! I simply accepted I'm a perpetual work in progress, so I might as well have fun on the ride. I praise my commitment to be my best self, and express gratitude for opportunities (disguised as frustrations/"failures"/annoyances) which highlight areas needing attention and allow me to become better. It's not always fun - there are discouraging moments, sure - but overall, knowing that I've come a long way excites, reassures, and invigorates me. I get pumped knowing my efforts are helping me become even better, happier, and more successful. They're allowing me to become my best me.
This doesn't mean I totally condemn the Whitney of the past. I know she was doing her best with what she had. We all have to start somewhere, and we don't all have the same struggles. What's easy for you may challenge me, and vice versa, so don't get all judgy with yourself or others. All that matters is you're moving forward.