“What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”
Hecato, Greek philosopher

Going into this year, for the first time in a long time, I found myself wanting to make New Year’s Resolutions. I felt I should eat healthier, watch less TV, and be more productive. In fact, the closer January 1st came, the bigger my list of all the ways I should change grew, and I felt a mounting dissatisfaction with my life.

The feeling was so intense – and so different from previous years, when I mostly entered with hope for the unwritten future – that I couldn’t help but notice the reactive nature of my resolutions.

The truth was, the end of 2012 was rough for me. For most of the month of December I had little energy for doing things, and so gave myself permission for several weeks to do nothing. As my energy returned, the habit of doing nothing had become so entrenched I found it difficult to pull myself out of it. I spent days watching TV or otherwise idling my time while my mind screamed about everything I wasn’t doing, how I was failing, and how I should be better than this.

The feeling and nature of my resolutions seemed borne of the “I’m-not-how-I-should-be-and-need-to-change” rhetoric of the inner critic. So, I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions.

Instead, I had an extraordinarily helpful epiphany, the sort that has to be felt, but I’ll try to communicate it with words.

I realized it’s okay to not be okay. The feeling of being lost, confused, kind of goofy, faking your way through, or otherwise not knowing what you’re doing, is a perfectly valid place to be. If it’s where you are, then let yourself be there. When being where you are and knowing how you feel is okay, then there’s nothing to correct or run away from.

The experience is like softening the edges around all the things you don’t like about yourself, so they no longer feel so sharp or cutting. No matter how behind you think you are from where you should be, you keep realizing you’re okay, and it’s okay to be here.

It is the reactive idea that you should do something about it that holds things in place. It creates tension, and adds guilt or shame on top of what you’re already feeling. This adds the experience of an almost physical heaviness to the things you don’t like, and makes it difficult if not impossible to change.

January 1st happened about a week after my sitting with this permission to be “wrong”. At the end of the day, my productive spirit returned, either because of this work or because it would anyway after enough time.

Either way, the last week has been one of the most astoundingly productive and joyful of my life. I’ve accomplished things that have been weighing on me for years, and made giant leaps toward the completion of long-term goals. I hope the rest of the year builds on this momentum, but am okay if it doesn’t.
Movement happens when you let yourself be where you are. Since opening to this in myself, my self-confidence and “presence” has become noticeably different. Various people have commented during the week that I’m “happy, shiny, bright, present” or other adjectives that reflect the physical appearance of self-acceptance.

The way to let go of not accepting or liking yourself is to accept the non-acceptance. When you let yourself be where you are, you get to discover what’s true about you. When there’s no judgment saying you should be different than you are, your true nature is free to come out into the open.

When that happens, I promise, you will shine.