Acceptance and I are new acquaintances. For many years, I couldn’t see its beauty. I thought it equalled resignation: sitting on the couch, hunched into my shoulders, and slowly shaking my head in a sad, Eeyore-type way. But acceptance is an active and dynamic force. It precedes and provokes change.
For many years, I’ve been familiar with psychologist Carl Rogers’s contention that:
‘When I accept myself as I am, then I can change’.
But I still found self-acceptance tough. In a culture which emphasises struggling, keeping going, battling for what you want, it can seem counter-cultural to say to yourself:
I am what I am, and that’s OK.
That’s where the beauty begins though. That ‘OK’ releases you into your flow. You slip gently away from the ropes that have moored you for so long to that place of impossible yearning. I say ‘impossible’ because I suspect our non-acceptance of ourselves is based on a desire to be more like someone else.
In my case, I yearned to be like most of those who crossed my path, precisely because I knew I was so different. At school, I wanted to be like the glam girls, the ones who won the deportment prize and dazzled in the school play. At work, I wanted to be like those classy creatures who made effortless small talk and segued into fast track management programmes. As an introverted dyspraxic, it was never going to happen.
Boosting our energy
Another beautiful bonus of acceptance is that it gives us more energy; perhaps that’s why it facilitates change. Instead of using our energy to fuel our yearning and our resentment, we can use it instead to explore our potential. This inevitably changes our focus from what we can’t do – and those whom we yearn to be can – to what we can or might be able to do.
It took me years to realise that we all have our own destiny. It doesn’t include being like anybody else. Our destiny is to be our unique selves. Our task is to become the best version of ourselves and share our gifts with the world. After years of resentment and rage, I’ve found my place of acceptance. Now I’m living in it.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m such an evolved human being that I regard my dyspraxia as a gift. I don’t. It still frustrates the hell out of me, especially when I want to post a blog. That’ll be 20 minutes of the pure joy of writing, followed by 60 minutes of effing and blinding with the technology. But self-acceptance has taught me to see the gifts within the dyspraxia.
Making the most of our gifts
One of those gifts is my ability with words; that’s the compensating abundance for my dyspraxic deficits. A second is my current, thrilling experiment to rewire my eccentric brain as I walk the Camino de Santiago. A third is using my experience to coach others to live beyond their labels – whatever they may be, wherever they began, however long they’ve been in place.
These days, thanks to acceptance, I no longer refer to myself as an ‘introverted dyspaxic’. I only have one self-imposed label: ‘a uniquely talented work in progress’. Now that is a beautiful thing.