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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Self-Acceptance

I had this list of things called "operation razor's edge." Basically, my plan to be successful in everything possible. Yet one kind of goal seems much more difficult.  I can publish more books, for example, but the one goal that is very elusive is called "radical self-acceptance." This goal is diametrically opposed to the whole rest of the razor's edge, because it is asking me to accept the self I already have rather than improving it, as is the point of all the other goals.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, you're referring to the Tara Brach book, radical self-acceptance? It's one of the few self-helpy type books I've ever sort of liked.

I do think of improving skills, work, etc. as improvement of those things, not of self. So radical self-acceptance wouldn't conflict with razor's edge.

Jonathan said...

I don't know the book. I thought I was inventing that phrase though I've probably heard it from other people.

Jonathan said...

In the sense that certain things I do are self-sabotaging and go both against self-acceptance and the razor's edge. So if I want to eliminate clutter that is both for higher efficiency of getting things done but also a higher level of self-care, not to be surrounded by clutter.

Anonymous said...

I would say you don't improve if you don't love yourself where you are. I say that to language students all the time, and it's obvious: be proud of what you know, show it off, use it, and you'll find you learn more.

I am trying this.

Clarissa said...

Isn't your lack of total self-acceptance the source of your achievement, though? Students, for instance, stun me all the time by saying placidly "I'm just not good at languages / writing / reading/ public speaking, etc." And it doesn't matter what I suggest to improve their skills because they have accepted their limitations and are very much at peace with them. The result is stagnation.

Jonathan said...

I don't mean self-acceptance as complacency. I'm all for lifting self-imposed limitations. But this means I have to accept that I will be bad at something for a time before I get good at it.

Leslie said...

I was raised with the idea that you should not try to get good at what you did recreationally. This was well intentioned -- enjoyment was to be enjoyment, not work. But it felt like a limitation, because one does improve at what one practices (if one does it with interest). I still struggle with this in everything, don't try to get good because you either can't (you don't have enough talent) or shouldn't (this isn't a school or career activity).

Jonathan said...

There's a lot ego protection involved too. If you aren't good, then you won't try and fail and have a bruised ego. But this really doesn't protect at all, because then the sphere in which you are allowed to be good is so limited. That's why I feel ambivalent about ideas that you should dare to fail at things. There is a good message here... except that we keep ourselves back artificially with all the "shitty first drafts."

Leslie said...

...I must have a robust ego since I am not afraid to try and fail at these kinds of things.

I am, however, terrified of losing everything and being on the street. I am afraid, for example, of being wrongly accused of some kind of nebulous malfeasance at work -- not anything concrete like embezzlement or sexual harassment or not showing up, but something unfair and unfounded and that is complete projection, but that I cannot fight, and losing all my possessions and income because of it, and being thrown into the street. I am afraid that this same characteristic of evil and unacceptability I have, that others see in me and I cannot find no matter how hard I look, will also prevent me from being a greeter at Wal*Mart, for instance.

I have justifications for this, such as the time I was called on the carpet for teaching Borges, a minor science fiction author, instead of major Spanish and Spanish American authors as I should be doing.

Leslie said...

...and this is interesting: what I am terrified of is what you call the radio. It is so incredibly deep, it's scary. But it's the radio.