People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds. – Carl Rogers
We live in a world of replacements and upgrades. Sometimes, even before something is broken, the world decides it needs to be replaced and seemingly forces our hand to do so. In many cases purchasing something new is cheaper and more time effective than repairing the original.
We have taken this concept of replacement and placed it on ourselves as well. Fad diets that replace all of our nourishment with a restricted set of options, self-help methods force us to adopt a philosophy completely, religions afraid of losing ground use fear tactics, photoshopped images of individuals narrow the physical ideal, plastic surgery offers instant body part replacement. All of these examples limit possibilities for the individual. The message conveyed is:
if you are not a specific way then you are deficient somehow and need to replace that part of you with the latest more socially acceptable model.
In turn, when we look in the mirror, at photographs, at our resume, at our Facebook, at our life, too many of us see that “part” we feel needs replacing, rather than seeing a dynamic whole.
What if rather than focusing on the bits that need replacing, we took in the complete picture of ourselves and embraced it?
Embrace comes from Old French and literally means “in arms.” Think about the feeling of being surrounded, encircled and embraced. In this way you are a whole, more than the sum of parts, some ready for upgrade and some not. From this place of wholeness, the focus can be on nurture rather than eradication. Look at and think of yourself as complete as whole. Pause for a moment and let that sink in.
What parts of you need to be embraced more, are calling for nurture?
What parts of you when embraced flourish and offer you more energy?
How is this feeling different from the exhausting process of self-critique and improvement?
What if no one was keeping score of your struggle?
This idea goes against the world we live in and it will feel strange at first. Even now I am not saying to replace your old way of being — just hold embracing in your awareness. When you find yourself starting to critique and nitpick, try out feeling what embracing would be like in that moment. Replacing discards pieces of ourselves, then we subsequently go searching outside of ourselves for that which we presumably lack. Embracing nourishes and lets us blossom, at every age and cognitive ability, into our potentiality that exists within. Although along the way many of us have forgotten, inside of each and every one of us is exactly what we need to live a meaningful life.
Embrace rather than replace, I have a feeling you will be surprised what unfolds.
(In a moment of exasperation during a phase of personal growth and transition for me a friend said “Stop trying to replace everything about you and embrace who you are.” I want to thank her for believing in me and seeing me when I couldn’t.)