Self Acceptance: The Freedom to ‘Simply Be’

Posted: July 27, 2015 in behavioral health, faith based, spirituality
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A seed grows into a plant because it is its nature to do so, not because you or I do it.  Likewise, true growth is a process one allows to happen rather than causes to happen. – Gerald May, MD

This is an excerpt from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” written by Charles W. Sidoti

There is really very little that you need to do in order to become more peaceful. One of the most helpful books I have ever read on the subject was written by Gerald May, MD, it is called Simply Sane. On the cover is a close-up photograph of a patch of ground, with a single, fragile blade of a plant that has just burst through the soil from the seed below. The premise of the book, so poignantly represented by the cover photo, is that the overwhelming majority of life “just happens.” It is not so much what we do, although our participation plays a critical and important part; and that is the paradox. The fact of the matter is that something outside our human power makes the plant burst forth from the seed.  If it does not happen nothing any human being can do could cause it to occur.  It just happens!  In the words of Dr. May:

True growth is a process one allows to happen rather than causes to happen.  A seed grows into a plant because it is its nature to do so, not because you or I do it.  If a seed finds itself in rich earth, with reasonable quantities of water and sunlight, growth will happen.  If we sprinkle the ground with fertilizer, water it regularly and keep pests away, we become involved in the growth process, and growth may be stronger and richer. We are participating in the growth, but we are still not causing it.

Growth is growth, whether it is plant, animal, or human growth and development. For the most part it just happens.  There are things we can and should do to nurture and foster that growth within ourselves. Just as we nurture a plant through fertilizing, watering and caring for it, we can nurture our personal growth by exposing ourselves to things that encourage that growth. In doing so we participate in the growth process but we still are not causing it.  This is an important distinction.

There is a point when our attempts to nurture our personal growth can go a step too far.  This may happen when what is behind our self-nurturing, our attempt to change ourselves, is really a deep-seated non-acceptance of who we naturally are. When this happens, we get an image in our minds of what we think we should be. We don’t see ourselves as already good, so we set out on a process of self-improvement methods, books, gurus, retreats, and counselors of every sort in order to fix ourselves.  Many of us go to great lengths to make ourselves acceptable, at least to ourselves. In the end none of these efforts brings lasting results. We may get a new insight to cling to for a while, but when that wears off we are still stuck with a self we deem to be unsatisfactory.  And so on we go to the next retreat, believing it is time to find a new fix.

Makings one’s life a continuous self-improvement project, something the modern commercial media strongly encourages, is what Dr. May calls insanity.  Living the insanity of non-self acceptance instead of simply being who we are is very painful. The pain will not be in vain, however, if it eventually leads us to give up the effort. When and if that happens, we might be able to let go of all the self preoccupation and learn to simply be.

Connecting Point:  The overwhelming majority of life “just happens.” There are things that you and I can and should do to nurture our mental and physical health. But the truth of the matter is that if the sun did not rise in the morning, there is nothing you, I , or anyone else could do about it. What you and I decide to do with each new day we are blessed with is up to us. Our whole life works in much the same way.

Prayer:  God of all creation, I have no idea how you create life out of nothing. Scientists have their theories, and that is all well and good. But in the end the created world remains a mystery far beyond my ability to understand. Help me to live with a true sense of humility, accepting life as a gift and as mystery. Give me a spirit of gratitude that I may grow in relationship with you every day of my life. Amen.

List Price $14.95 / $13.46 Today on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Contentshttp://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_TOC.pdf

Read the Introduction: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_Intro

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