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Self-acceptance is fundamental to reaching your potential

I recently went to the IBEC Keepwell summit in Dublin. There were many highlights but a particular one for me was Nigel Owens, the Welsh Rugby Referee sharing his story. You couldn't hear a pin drop in the room of 350 people, and many were touched to tears by his powerful life story.

He started with: 'They say you make your life…. but first of all, … life makes you'. Life is what you make it …. but we are primed and molded by our experiences first. He spoke at length about his upbringing, his family life and parents, his schooling, being bullied, working, attempting suicide and later, coming out. He is a powerful speaker and one I would highly recommend if you ever get the chance.

After taking us on a long journey - a personal account of his own life, he ended with something universal - something we could all identify with. He said the hardest thing he has ever done is to fully accept himself.

It is I feel true and something I have struggled with. At times, I have found it easier to accept what has happened and what others have done but harder to accept how I have behaved and who I am. For Nigel Owens, he said it was his greatest challenge, bigger than any of the matches he has refereed, professional heights he has reached or other obstacles he has faced. Only you will know how is for you.

In workplace wellbeing programs, there is much talk about bringing your 'full' and 'best self' to work. It is also part of the approach I use. In order to bring your full and best self to work or to any situation, accepting yourself is fundamental. If we don't, we can at best bring a part of ourselves to situations. And it is a conflicted part if you don't accept yourself. Inner peace is not possible. Peace comes when what you think, feel, say and do are all in harmony and balance.

We enable others to bring their best self to situations, we when accept and embrace who they are. Love is love. Viewpoints are view points and diverse teams are way ahead in terms of productivity metrics.

Before you look outward too much, it is important to look within and accept who you are. Looking at yourself in the mirror, eye to eye and being good with that is a great start. We all have great qualities and we have lessor ones or a shadow, more selfish self. The parts of the brain responsible for growth and learning shut down when we feel guilt and shame. When we can fully sit with ourselves, we can sit with anything. Meditation is a great tool to help you learn to sit with yourself and build self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is also foundational for changing yourself. Without it, it is not possible to transform and be who you want to be.

In parenting, Dr. Harry Barry, author of the book 'Self-acceptance' believes it is far more important to focus on 'unconditional self-acceptance', while taking full responsibility for our behaviour. 'If I fail I am not a failure, I simply failed at a task. The only failure in life is not getting back up again'.

He calls this: 'a revolutionary approach to mental health' . It is resilience in practice.

The road to self-acceptance comes more easily to some than others depending on our start in life. But it is one that is key to travel if you want to have both fulfilment and achievement in life.

Calodagh McCumiskey designs and delivers bespoke wellbeing at work programmes to grow people and companies. She also offers regular meditation classes, personal development workshops and wellbeing consultations to help people thrive. Ph 053 9140655 | info@spiritualearth.com | www.spiritualearth.com

Wexford People