Most of us are fortunate enough to get unconditional love from our parents when we’re babies. Whether we cry, scream, or poop, they tend to our every need and don’t reprimand us for doing such things.
But as we get a little older and become young children, expectations shift.
If we refuse to eat our dinner, we get sent to our room hungry.
We learn a valuable lesson — we need to behave a certain way to get love and acceptance from others.
If we cry, we’re told to toughen up and stop crying like an infant.
We learn that negative emotions are bad and something to be ashamed of.
From that point on, we’re forever doing two things:
When we’re not accepted, it hurts big time.
It hurts because it triggers that inner child that was sent to their room.
It triggers deep feelings of inadequacy.
It hurts because we believe it.
It hurts because we’re never learned how to accept ourselves.
Whether it be rejection from a romantic interest, a business or employment prospect, that sports team we tried out for, whatever the case, it ultimately forces us to come to face-to-face with the idea we’ve spent our whole lives running from — that we are not enough.
In order to avoid this feeling, we can do one of the following:
Or we can learn to accept and love ourselves, no matter what happens in our interactions with the world around us. This extends to accepting the negative emotions that are an inevitable part of life and of being human.
As Roman philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness — but for my part, none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading”.
Truly accepting ourselves gives life a lighter, more playful tone and opens us up to a richer and more fulfilling experience of life, one where we are content with who we are, and what may come.
When we operate from such a place we stop seeing the value in doing things for other people’s validation and instead begin to live a life true to ourselves.
Steve Glaveski is on a mission to unlock your potential to do your best work and live your best life. He is the founder of innovation accelerator, Collective Campus, author of several books, including Employee to Entrepreneur and Time Rich, and productivity contributor for Harvard Business Review. He’s a chronic autodidact and is into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and hold a warrior three pose.