3 Ways I Learned To Accept Myself In 2016
Every year, I pick a word — and that becomes my focus for the year.
In 2013 and 2014, my word was simplicity. Everything about those 2 years revolved around simplifying my life.
I purged and cleaned out closets. We had multiple garage sales and made several trips to Goodwill to donate stuff. I rearranged my schedule and dropped some commitments from my life that were making things complicated. Even the style of my home changed as I was drawn toward minimalistic and simplified design and away from having decorative stuff that just seemed to clutter and collect dust.
I don’t remember what my word was in 2015. We moved twice, and whatever personal goals I had were pretty much packed into boxes and moved 1,200 miles.
Last year my word was acceptance. I really needed to work on accepting myself — right where I was.
I felt like I had been waiting until I lost weight or until I was eating a certain way or parenting a certain way before I could accept myself. So I was really, really hard on myself and placed crazy expectations on myself that were exhausting and oftentimes unrealistic.
I started Trim Healthy Mama in January and lost 12 pounds in 2-1/2 months. I felt so great, so it was easier to feel great about myself.
Then I quit losing weight. I wasn’t doing anything different. I was still following THM, but the weight wasn’t coming off any more and I was stuck. And I lost sight of my word.
It was easy to accept my physical body while I was losing weight. When the weight loss stopped, my acceptance of my body stopped, too.
Even though I wasn’t in a healthy place of accepting my physical body, I didn’t lose sight of acceptance completely. I grew to accept myself in other ways… and even though I pretty much forgot about my word by mid-year, it was always there, informing my decisions and allowing me to grow.
Here are 3 ways I learned to accept myself in 2016.
#1 — I accepted that I can’t do everything.
I was burned out trying to do all the things. Working from home, homesteading (and often failing), growing a business, managing content for Traditional Cooking School and Wilderness Family Naturals, and trying to be a good mom and wife… it just felt like the minute I was winning at one area, I was losing in another.
So what did I do about it? How did I show myself that I accepted where I was at without feeling guilt or like I had failed?
First, we decided to enroll the peeps in public school in August. Giving up homeschooling was so hard for me because I truly loved it (and I was pretty good at it). Yet it really seemed like the right time to transition the kids into school. Knowing that we had laid a solid foundation in academics and character, we trusted our gut feeling that it was time to let go of homeschooling in this season.
Secondly, I hired a housekeeper. I accepted the fact that I could not keep up with everything, and that was OK. Something had to give. I could either make myself insane and exhausted by trying to do it all, or I could farm something out.
No one else can run my business for me. I don’t want anyone else to cook for us. But cleaning was something I could give up and entrust to someone else. So I did. (And it’s been GLORIOUS!!!) Now I have one less thing to worry about, and I happily pay someone else to worry about it for me!
Third, and this may sound crazy, I learned to use an Instant Pot. That one purchase (actually, now I own 2 Instant Pots!) changed. my. life. It cut down on the amount of time I spend cooking and simplified many of our favorite dishes. When you cook as much as I do, small things are enormous when they make life easier.
So yeah, I can make gourmet meals from scratch and spend tons of time doing it. Or I can make simple, but gourmet-tasting meals from scratch in less time and with less dishes to wash later. I can’t do it all… but my Instant Pot almost can. Hahahahahaha! (Read my honest review of the Instant Pot + how it’s changed my life!)
(No really, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, then “Instant Pot” needs to be your word for 2017.) 😉
I needed margin in my life — and these choices gave me that margin.
#2 — I accepted where I’m at in my faith journey.
I don’t want to go into detail here because it’s a loooooong story.
Suffice it to say that I’ve undergone a massive shift in my faith in the last 3 years. Obviously, my faith is a very personal thing. So it was something I was going through on the inside — a deeply inward journey that took me on many twists and turns.
Although I was processing everything just fine, I was hiding many of my changing beliefs from others — especially old friends and family members who I knew wouldn’t accept where I was. Spiritual and religious beliefs have a way of bringing people together or tearing them apart. I didn’t want any tearing to happen, so I sorta kept it to myself.
The fear of being rejected by others was keeping me from fully accepting myself! (See, acceptance was an appropriate word for me!)
Truthfully, I’m still working on living out my new beliefs, but I am intentionally choosing not to hide. My faith journey is my own — and I can accept that, even if others can’t.
Some of the books and resources that have been instrumental in this process of deconstruction are:
- The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable To Read It by Pete Enns
- Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
- Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
- Stuff That Needs To Be Said by John Pavlovitz
- The God Delusion documentary presented by Richard Dawkins
#3 — I accepted myself as a strong woman.
I’ve always known that I’m a strong woman. I have a very dominant, alpha personality — the type of personality that is discouraged and chastised in women, but encouraged and celebrated in men.
There is something wrong when a man is vocal, strong, says what he wants, and leads, but when a woman does the same, she is called a bitch.
I speak my mind because I hate the empty space in conversations where you wonder what someone is thinking because they won’t actually say it. I am comfortable setting boundaries with people. I enjoy engaging in deep conversations about issues and the lively debate that often ensues.
And I often find myself apologizing in advance for “the way I am”.
I do not have a gentle, quiet spirit. My husband is the gentle, quiet one. Not me. And I wasn’t OK with any of that until this year (because fundamentalist Christianity taught me that being gentle and quiet is the only way God and others would accept me).
Women are expected to do it all and shut up about it.
We juggle kids and packing lunches and laundry and housekeeping and bills and errands and grocery shopping and appointments and everyone else’s schedule and meals and dishes and oil changes and relationships and marriages and so. much. more.
Add running my own business on top of all that.
I had a very frank conversation with my husband about a month ago, which took a lot of guts. I told him that I felt like I was carrying an unfair burden because all of this was expected of me while all that was expected of him was to focus on his one job for 8 hours a day and come home and love on his family (all of which he does beautifully, by the way).
As long as I was expected to carry all of that, without help, I couldn’t reach my full potential. I want to be a strong woman. I desire to be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. If I have too many irons in the fire, I can’t be strong or healthy. For the last 14 years, my brain has never been allowed to turn off!
You see, in weight-lifting, the more you can lift or carry, the stronger you are. But in life? The more you carry, without help, the weaker you become.
It takes great strength for a woman to advocate for herself. In a world that sees asking for help as weakness, it is the strong woman who rises up and says to her partner, “Why can’t you wash a load of clothes? Or thaw meat and plan dinner? Or make a grocery list? Why am I expected to do all of this on my own AND still work on something outside our home?”
My husband absolutely agreed with me, and it’s changed everything.
I chose to be strong for myself and to, hopefully, set a strong example for my daughter. And thankfully, I’m married to a feminist, so that helps quite a bit. 😉
My 2016 Journey…
So that’s a little about what 2016 has been like for me… a journey toward accepting some of the deeper parts of myself, even though I’m still not totally happy with how I look on the outside. Desiring to be 20 pounds lighter may be superficial, but I still desire it and am hoping to get there one day.
There has been so much more — from health struggles to parenting 2 pre-teens to expanding my business and MORE. Yet all of it comes back to me accepting where I’m at. Right now. Today.
Accepting my physical body and the challenges it faces while working to make myself better. Accepting that parenting is hard, and it’s only getting harder — but I can do it. Accepting that growth takes time and pain, but it’s always worth it in the end.
As 2016 comes to an end and I choose my one word for 2017, I plan to continue to love and accept myself, as much as I can, right where I’m at. Letting go of my super high standards for myself and choosing to accept and enjoy my life, my family, my often messy home, and myself. All of it.
Here’s one truth I do know for sure…
We place higher expectations on ourselves than we would ever place on others. I believe these expectations set us up for constant failure in our own eyes — leading to self-rejection. And that’s got to stop.