5 Ways To Start Your Journey Towards Self-Acceptance

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So far this month we have talked about accepting our choices, accepting differences, but we haven’t delved too deeply into the realm of self-acceptance. Loving and accepting ourselves may be one of the hardest aspects of acceptance, but self-acceptance is far from impossible. Here are five ways to begin your journey to self-acceptance. We hope they bring you lots of wisdom and love.

  1. Be a bumble bee…which is to say watch Harry Baker performing spoken word about self-acceptance at a Ted Talk.
  2. Take a course on self-acceptance. Everyday Feminism has a great one focusing on self-love (with reduced rates for folks with lower incomes), and Oprah offers a free ten day path towards self-acceptance.
  3. Explore your own unique type of courage with this quiz from Greenpeace.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others and just breathe.  Read about the ways that yoga to help with that in this article from Yoga Journal  or this one from Rebelle Society.
  5. Try praying, meditating or writing about the best aspects of yourself. Enjoy them, revel in then, and share them!

Have other ideas about starting the journey to self-acceptance? Share them with us in a post, or below in the comments!

Accepting Where I’m From

By: Will O’Brien, Social Media Intern 2015

I have spent the last three years of my life going new places, meeting new people, and trying new things, but I have always had a benchmark. The control in my life experiment is always my family and my hometown. However, simply saying “St. Louis” when people asked me where I am from never seemed sufficient. I felt it wasn’t the complete picture of my background that everyone thought it was and most people from the Northeast needed me to pull out a map to show them where exactly that “small southern town” was.

The effort to truly accept my hometown, which has been particularly difficult with the media coverage we have been getting over the course of the past year, has not been easy. However, this past week I made a breakthrough. My sister sent me an exercise from one of her classes for graduate school. It was an adult Mad-Libs of sorts to the form on George Ella Lyon’s Poem “Where I’m From.” My sister and I have not yet had the opportunity to sit down and compare notes, but taking 15 minutes out of my day to reflect and accept my roots was refreshing. I was also very intrigued when an article on Lyon’s passing mentioned a traditional religious upbringing. Both my liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic upbringings still have strong influences on my worldview that I am constantly sorting out and accepting for myself.

Below are Lyon’s original poem, a fill in the blank style template, and my personal variation on his theme. They have helped me find some acceptance of my roots, and I hope they help you do the same.

Where I’m From

By: George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.

Where I’m From

(template)

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item),

from _______ (product name) and _______.
I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item),

the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait),

from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion or lack of it). Further description.
I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

Where I’m From

By:Will O’Brien

I am from desserts,
from Jif and Smucker’s.
I am from the odd stair on the porch.
(White, new,
made by hand.)
I am from the dead grass
the Old Oak
whose ancient roots I remember
as if they still showed through the sidewalk.

I’m from meat and potatoes,
from Blue Stone and Trout Lodge.
I’m from the ‘stop smacking’
and the ‘use your lips,‘
from ‘don’t yell!’ and ‘bring it here!‘
I’m from Webster
with a St. Joe’s tinge

and trespasses, and sins, and debts.

I’m from Metuchen and Berea,
burnt chicken and black coffee.
From the thumb my uncle lost
at the factory,
the burn on my father’s hand.

In my basement was a Build-A-Bear box
spilling old pictures,
a mess of 90’s outfits
Each accompanying a story.
I am the pictures–
the stories —
the memories.

An Interpretation of Accepting Acceptance

Today’s guest post is by Jenica Brittingham who is an English Literature and Theatre teacher originally from Normal, IL and currently living and working in Shanghai, China. Jenica shares wisdom on accepting our choices, coming to terms with different cultures, and living our dreams.

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For the last five years, I have been living in a foreign country.  Now this isn’t just ANY foreign country, but China, a land of a different language, different morals, beliefs, religion, but mostly, culture.  Anyone who has seen me or even talked to me about my experiences would know that on a general basis, I have not been a fan.

Most days, I will rant about the inconsiderate individual, a strange, and sometimes gross custom or stereotype (like spitting in the street or defecating in a trash bin, which yes, a large part of the population does do), but some days, I will have a moment of pure wonder as I glance outside the window of a taxi at a city, like any other, that is full of people with traditions, and on the occasion, magic.

While it can be difficult to find among the blaring horns of drivers and among some of the locals arguing (or possibly laughing, I can’t always tell) about the price of something, that magic can still be discovered, usually on a warm spring night, much like this one, when the air is somewhat clean, the lights of the city are shining like a beacon, and just a few stars are visible about the skyline of the city. It’s moments like these that create a sense of contemplation, moments that bring me back to my thoughts overall.

While living in China, I have had the privilege of teaching some amazing students who have reignited and re-inspired my passion for theatre and performing, causing me to actively pursue and perform in plays and musicals once again.  As I am nearing the end of my five year stint, I am faced with questions and options.  As I am preparing to leave, I am faced with the possibility of once again being a “leading lady” in a musical theater production, something I haven’t gotten to be since I was 17!  So, I must decide if this rekindled passion is enough to convince me to stay in a “world” and culture I have not always gotten along with, or if I should let go of my new-found community and family and start a new journey of self-discovery.

While facing this dilemma, I am reminded of my grandmother Dorothy, who taught me to always follow my hear, my passion, and to always believe in myself.  She was always one of my biggest fans and I continue to take her words of wisdom to heart.  However, the trouble is while living in China, I have constantly doubted myself and have consistently struggled to continually believe in myself.  So the question is, should I return to America where I have more confidence and self-esteem for myself in general, or should I remain a bit longer to continue to fight and strive for my passion?

Either way, I both win and lose a little, which doesn’t seem to bother me.  What does seem to give me pause is the thought of having to make a decision overall, and then accepting my choice, as well as embracing it full on without looking back or having any regrets.

Having now written down all these thoughts, I find I am not any closer to making a decision.  Still, having it truly out in the universe (or at least out on the internet), I am finding that I am accepting that a decision is going to ultimately have to be made. So, thank you China for your obscure five years and the potential few months more that may still occur.  You have been both a challenge and a blessing, but don’t tell anyone I said that!

The Wisdom of Acceptance

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

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Wisdom always appears as a woman to me. In this case, she is Victorian, with upswept hair, high collar, and looking somewhat like a character from Anne of Green Gables. She is middle-aged, experienced, and vivacious. We sit down for tea- complete with wicker chairs, large windows, crossed ankles and perfectly formed sugar cubes.

I begin to tell her about my life. Current struggles are first placed in the boundaries of polite language, and then spill out in waves of excuses, reasons, doubts, fears, wonderment, bewilderment, disappointment and an occasional wry laugh. Lady wisdom nods her head, graciously. Acceptance. Everything I am, everything I say, she takes in and with one gentle gesture, sets me at ease. I am accepted. My past is accepted. My doubts about the future are accepted. My current condition, in this moment, in this second of imaginary life sipping tea and sobbing uncontrollably, is accepted.

But, when my heart has been spilled and the weight has lifted from my shoulders, Lady Wisdom leans in and prepares to tell me that while I am accepted, completely accepted, there are things that are unacceptable. My focus on myself instead of others, for one. My self-pity or self-dislike, for another. She speaks gently but in no uncertain terms. In all her wisdom, she helps me draw boundaries. Going back is unacceptable. Wallowing in mediocrity is unacceptable. Not daring to dream is unacceptable.

Is it wisdom talking, or my own guilt? Does guilt have a place in this? When do we get off the comfy couch and say enough is enough?

Lady Wisdom reminds me to start small. A moment of prayer, a moment of thanks, a ten-second interval before airing my grievances to the world. She reminds me to accept my journey, and to not accept the baggage that is begging to come with me.

Solomon says there is a place and time for everything. Acceptance and unacceptance alike. I can see Lady Wisdom nodding her head and placing a bookmark at that passage to use in our next conversation. Until then, I accept her friendship, her love, and her advice for my life.

Courage is Acceptance

FullSizeRenderBy: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

Recently, six amazingly brave people climbed on an oil rig that is still headed to the Arctic. These six people were part of a Greenpeace mission to stop Shell from drilling in the arctic. Along side this direct action, Greenpeace also  started a conversation about what courage is.  Then I ran across a post about living cross culturally and I remembered that this Saturday is Global Citizen Earth Day.  Suddenly, courage was an international question. I began thinking about courage, acceptance, and my cross cultural life as interconnected concepts.

Living abroad has taught me a lot of things, and has involved a strange mix of struggle and beauty. Yet, of all the things I have seen, and learned by  living in a world of cultural mixing, I think the most important is that accepting difference is brave, even courageous.

When I am experience someone’s difference, or a different culture, when I am confronted with a different idea about how to greet my neighbor or how to pray, I have two choices. I can degrade the things I find strange and different, or I can accept them.

It takes a lot of courage to accept difference. It is easier to degrade it, and our history as humans has shown that humanity often takes this easier route. Racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, even the degradation of the earth can all be seen as ways we humans have tried to degrade difference.

But every day each of us has the chance to choose something else, to be brave, to embrace difference. I may not understand someone else’s faith, but I can be brave and accept that it is true for them. My support of Greenpeace’s direct action against Shell may seem wrong and strange to you, but you can be brave, you can accept that this is my path, my way of saving the planet.

We are each called to our own spiritual journey, our own life path, our own interpretation of faith, we all have our own passions, our own beliefs, our own way to save the world. Be we can all also share the common courage of accepting each other’s difference. Courage isn’t belittling the things we find different, courage is accepting them and seeing if they hold any truth for our path.

Waiting for Acceptance

By: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

When the Searching Sophia’s Pockets team and I planned out the themes for this year, I had high hopes for this month’s theme. I thought I would be writing posts about getting accepted into grad school, and the ways that acceptance would allow me to open up my spiritual journey.I had also hoped that my Lenten practices would have been able to provide me with a post about accepting my new path, my calling.

I have to accept however, that the universe seems to have other plans. Today, after my Lenten social media hiatus, I am forced to face acceptance of a totally different kind.

It seems that what I am accepting this month is the unknown, which seems like it should be easy since I just wrote about it for the blog Tiny Buddha. The thing is sometimes it is hard to take our own advice, and sometimes the weight of trying to accept our current reality feels crushing.

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For me, pushing for acceptance, even pushing myself to accept the chaos in my life, is not really effective. I have found that acceptance tends to come when I stop worrying about it. So now I am trying to relieve the weight, remove the stress, and just let acceptance happen. I pray not so much for the strength to accept my current situation, but the wisdom to accept myself as I am, and the patience to give myself time to accept the changes and the chaos in my life and my future. I also pray that each of you give yourselves those gifts as well.

Being Present, Being Accepted

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

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I had the pleasure of being in Malaysia recently, and visited the Batu caves near Kuala Lumur. The Batu caves are celebrated as a holy pilgrimage site for Hindu believers.

Next to the religious site was an educational one- a section of caves protected by the environmentalists and used to teach tourists about the ecosystems hidden in the dark. You are given a headlamp, and then you follow a guide into the darkness to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of squeaking bats, scattering cockroaches, and some intelligent prehistoric spiders.

Caves are not my comfort zone.

I read a book recently, a collection of general wisdom, that often spoke about accepting the dark parts of yourself. A ying and yang sort of thing. In all honesty, the idea is a far cry from the “strive to be holy” Christianity I am familiar with. Our human world has generally accepted light as good and darkness as evil for millennia.

Which brings me back to the cave.

The cave filled with creepy crawlies was not a spiritual place- it was, quite simply, just old. It is a place without sunlight, where the animals adapted and eventually formed an entire ecosystem centered around bat poop (really). It’s a circle of life. A place where bugs and bats adapted to the darkness with bigger eyes, longer feelers, better ears, more advanced webs to catch prey. It is a basic life, a prehistoric dinosaur life. Not evil. Not good, either. Just life.

Which brings me to wonder. I was not mad at the bats and bugs for being what they were. They just were. Would sunlight enlighten them somehow? It would change them, certainly, but I don’t think that’s an allegory for spiritual enlightenment. They just are. And when they adapt and change, they still just are. There’s some spiritual wisdom buried in here somewhere that I’m trying to pull out. Theology aside, striving or no striving, there is some truth to this idea of acceptance.

I am me, now, in this moment. I will be me later. I was me yesterday. I am constantly changing by millimeters like the stalagmites and stalactites I saw in this beautiful cave. I don’t have millions of years, but I do have a lifetime to be formed into a piece of art. I am art now, and I will be art later. I am uniquely formed,with my drops of water, my scars, even my location and chemical makeup. I am unique, In the same way the other mites and tites around me are unique.

I am beautiful now. I was beautiful before. I will be beautiful tomorrow. However short or long life turns out to be, I am complete and growing, the paradox of art.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well –Psalm 139:13-14 New International Version (NIV)

Seeking Submissions: Acceptance

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This month at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are focusing on the theme of ACCEPTANCE. Acceptance is a tricky issue, sometimes we aren’t accepting enough, sometimes we accept too much of a bad thing. So dig deep and tell us about the places of acceptance, or lack there of, in your life and how they have led you to find wisdom, love …and lint.

If you are stuck for where to start your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. How do you find self-acceptance in your daily life?
  2. How has acceptance helped you on your spiritual journey?
  3. How do you feel about acceptance and your body?
  4. Who/what do you find hard to accept?
  5. What do you accept too easily?
  6. How do you cope when you don’t feel accepted?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

The Silence of What We Don’t Say

By: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

The above Ted Talk really got me thinking about the end of our theme of silence, which also almost exactly coincides with the end of the Christian Lenten season and the beginning of our theme of acceptance. In the talk, poet and educator Clint Smith talks about how our silence is sometimes implicit acceptance.  Although our intern Nermine already wrote about some of the negative sides of silence, I found myself exploring both silence and acceptance in their most positive lights.

Yet, silence and acceptance aren’t always positive. It is important to look at the ways my silence hurts the world. I am not someone who is generally accused of biting my tongue. In fact, one my greatest struggles in life has been learning how to preach my truth without alienating or hurting others. Even so, I am not guiltless when it comes to the silence of what we all neglect to say. I live a huge urban center, and I  am guilty of being silence and ignoring the humanity of those around me. I have silenced more than a few people with my words, with my implicit acceptance of systems of oppression.

So as we close this month, as we move from silence to acceptance, I pray that each of us can look at the places where our silence has caused pain, has sent the message that we accept some terrible injustices. I pray that we all have a chance to seek the best in silence and acceptance, and that we also take time to grapple with the use of silence and acceptance that hurt our world. I pray that none of us stay silent when we should be speaking our truth.

Silence and Writer’s Block

By: Will O’Brien, Social Media Intern 2015

IMG_0545I seem to have a story, quip, or adage for every possible moment. I often write these down, telling myself that some day when I’m sitting in my little apartment over a pub on the Dingle peninsula working on my next novel these scraps of stories and characters will come in handy. However, as I have sat staring at this blank word document attempting to reflect on silence for the past four weeks not one of these scraps has come in handy.

I haven’t been experiencing the external silence I was yearning to write about. I faced an internal silence – writer’s block. This rut I was stuck in while being stared down by a blank word document is not vastly different from the rut I often feel when isolated from my religious community.

When I first arrived in Morocco, I was told an adage about travel that didn’t make the list, but should have. ‘When you are in a place for a week you can write a novel, for a month you can write an article, and when you are there for a year you have nothing to write.’ As you become accustom to a practice and a culture it becomes the norm. The same phenomenon occurs in the course of ones religious practice.

What happens when one develops spiritual writer’s block? Many practitioners or organized religion have been practicing in the same tradition for years if not decades. They participate in the same communities with similar people worshipping and creating community in the same way. Does the practitioner still have something relevant to say? How do they go about finding a fresh perspective?

Now, this is not an evangelical how to blog post – 10 Easy Ways to Rekindle Your Passion in the Chapel – but perhaps looking at a few authors’ suggestions might serve as a nice road map. When I struggle with my own bouts of writer’s block I often turn to the all-knowing Internet to find how the best deal with a similar problem. Without fail the top advice is always to set a routine for yourself.

While this sounds like reinforcing the problem perhaps the ‘yourself’ is more important than the ‘routine.’ We often rely on the timing of exterior factors to determine when we take time for religion. Whether that is the placement of the sun or a priest changing the time of mass this routine is not uniquely yours.

When I stepped back and took the time to worship and reflect on my own, my perspective was refreshed. I developed a relationship and point of view that I could not have built on someone else’s schedule. It takes a personal routine to break down a personal block.