~ March 28th, 2022 ~
As I am swiftly approaching my college graduation next month and reflecting on change that has taken place the last several years, several things come to mind to reflect upon related to the process of change, especially change within one’s self.
Carl Rogers, possibly my favorite psychologist of all time and of great inspiration to me, wrote:
“We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.”
What is so compelling about what Rogers is writing here is an idea that eludes the best of us even amid our best efforts: we cannot change for the better in any significant way until we began to grasp as we are, and accept ourselves in that present state. For if we try to make change in any meaningful way, we need to understand as we are first in order to make any progress.
The challenge then, in experiencing radical or lasting change, is that change seems to present itself paradoxically. In order to change, we need to first have acceptance with ourselves; but fear of confronting ourselves so directly, weaknesses and all, can derail our original motivation of pursuing change.
One way self-acceptance plays such a critical role in growth is that it moves beyond awareness of weaknesses and failures, and what needs to be worked through or rectified in ourselves. Self acceptance also propels change into motion in a very positive manner. We can acknowledge our needed areas of improvement while recognizing our full potential that will make the needed change possible.
This awareness of potential, then, can facilitate change – if we understand not just our weaknesses, but our strengths, we will then see ourselves realistically and more fully. Change can then be realized as we conceptualize a more concrete view of reality that allows for the dual possibility of our weakness and our strength.
This can be a difficult part of self understanding, as daring to see the the good and beautiful within us may feel like a foreign concept. Many of us readily tear ourselves down mentally, and are far more comfortable with exercabeting our mistakes or mishaps than acknowledging the good we also possess.
But honest reflection of what we truly are, and focusing on our positive potential, is key to achieving self-growth. Without reflecting on who we are and truly understanding ourselves, we may hold many false ideas about what change even needs to occur. For example, many individuals hold false beliefs about themselves due to personal insecurities. They assume that those insecurities are personal deficiencies on their part that need to be changed in order to be “enough” in some way. But self-growth is not about achieving a status of “good enough. ” When these insecurities are accepted as parts of ourselves rather than loathed, we will have the space to understand our aim is not to “fix” any part of ourselves, its to become a stronger, better version of who we hold the capacity to be.
Part of the potential that needs to be tapped into is the capacity for gentleness and patience with one’s self. If you are striving to become a better person, be patient and be gentle with yourself regarding shortcomings. Strength does not come from never failing, but from overcoming failures over time and learning from them.
On a side note from today’s post, five years ago today I wrote my first post for this blog. Happy five years to this blog and being able to share my love for writing and ideas on it 🙂