Sep 13, 2021
3 mins read
When we talk about healing we often use the analogy of an onion. It's the idea that the healing just never seems to end, there is always another layer. But what if the key to healing is self-acceptance? Let me explain what I'm talking about.
When we look back on our lives and on choices that we made along the way, we can find places where we feel regret or remorse. There are things we wish we wouldn't have done. There are choices we wish we could take back. There are places where we feel like we didn't do enough. We play the game of what I call "woulda, coulda, shoulda". Hindsight makes that an easy to game to play. If I'd known then what I know now I would have done this, that, or the other thing.
That feeling of regret or remorse keeps us in a never-ending healing cycle because it allows us to continually beat up on ourselves. Usually, we take this back to a place of letting ourselves off the hook or forgiving ourselves for things.
What if all we have to do is accept who we were at the time?
I didn't know what I didn't know. I couldn't do things differently because I didn't know differently. I couldn't make a new choice because I didn't see another option. I was where I was and that's okay. That is how we let ourselves off the hook but it's also how we get to a place of self-acceptance.
The truth is, when we accept those parts of ourselves, the parts that screwed up, the parts that didn't do it right, the parts we don't like, it allows us to look back on those less than stellar performances and have compassion for the version ourselves that was in that situation. Once we are able to be compassionate with ourselves we can then more easily accept those bits of us that we've had trouble with.
Once we get that far, then we can look back on those memories without the trigger. We don't immediately feel a huge sense of guilt. We don't immediately burst into tears. It gets easier to look back on those situations and see them as learning experiences, which is exactly what they were.
It's not that we remove all the pain. It's easy to go back and dredge up the pain and make ourselves cry. It's just that it doesn't trigger us the same way anymore. We don't have to experience the pain every time the memory shows up. It becomes more of a choice than a necessity. The goal of healing is not to remove all the pain. The goal of healing is just to get to acceptance. It's acceptance that allows us to choose whether or not we bring up the pain.
To some degree it removes this idea of the onion. We don't have to keep going back over it. Once we accept ourselves, it frees us to talk about it without pain. It frees us from the trigger of it when something sparks it in the outside world. It gives us the ability to drop it. That's something the onion analogy doesn't allow us to do. If the onion is never-ending then we can never put it down. That keeps us stuck. To move forward we have to be able to put it down. The way to get there is through self-acceptance, not through removal of pain.
Can pain be released? Sure. It's doesn't have to be a bottomless pit. It doesn't have to go on forever. Self-acceptance is the way to get there. It makes room for us to allow the pain to go freely. But it also makes it okay if it doesn't because we're not weighed down by it. It's not poking at us every second of every day. We've still freed ourselves from it. That's the goal, freedom from all of this baggage so that we can be okay more of the time.
I hope that helps.
Love to all.