The Acceptance Paradox

caterpillar to butterfly

image: iStock photo

Whatever you accept begins to change. That’s the acceptance paradox in a nutshell.

I first started thinking about it after the first deadline for my self-love book. I’d worked on the book (and on myself) for about 8 months but I’d tried to write it in the same way I’d written my seven previous books. I’d know a little or a lot about a subject and then find scientific evidence to back it up.

I’d written on the mind-body connection. I knew, initially from my time as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, about the placebo effect and I also knew that meditation had physiological and neurological effects. I knew that people sometimes healed because of a belief or through a shift in their emotional state. So I found scientific evidence to back this up so I could reach lots of people and help them recognize their own power.

I’d also written on kindness and compassion. Again, I already knew that kindness could make us happier and that compassion was good for the heart, so I simply uncovered the research and shared it all in a book.

But writing ‘I Heart Me’ was different. Once I discovered what self-love actually was and the different ways it affects our lives, I realized that I didn’t have very much self-love at all. My self-love ‘deficit’ was having some real negative effects in my life. Writing a self-love book requires self-love and I was writing to try to obtain self-love. Working in this back-to-front way was really reinforcing that I didn’t have self-love… otherwise, why would I by trying so hard to obtain it?

Fortunately, my publisher (Hay House) recognized that I needed to do more work on myself and kindly gave me as much time as I wanted. That took the pressure off and I soon began to accept where I was in my life.

That’s when the real growth began. Acceptance was the key. Accept that it’s OK to not be healed, to not be a master of self-love, to not be as progressed as some other authors I knew, OK to have a lot of personal and emotional challenges, because, you know what?… that’s normal and it’s called being human.

Once I accepted myself, I began to change. The more I accepted myself, the faster I changed. It’s a version of whatever you look at disappears.

The theme has often emerged at my workshops and especially with regard to losing weight. Some people who want to lose weight and who feel they don’t have much self-love (not everyone, of course…we’re all different in our own ways) don’t want to love themselves because they fear that self-love will make them love themselves so much that they won’t want to change. Since losing weight has been such an important thing for them, the result is a resistance to doing any self-love work.

But this is where the Acceptance Paradox works. When you do accept who you are, and how you are, even make a start and try to find something good or beautiful in yourself, spontaneous change begins. This influx of self-love gives birth to inspired change. We start to make healthier choices.

Rather than self-love resulting in not losing weight through becoming so comfortable with yourself, self-love actually often leads to losing weight. But the very important distinction is that the weight loss isn’t in an attempt to be someone or something you’d love more, but originates from someone of something you’re starting to love, just as you are.

That’s how The Acceptance Paradox works.

Oh, and please know that I’m making quite a generalization here, touching on an issue that I know affects a lot of people. But I know others who would class themselves as overweight, but who are inspiring examples of self-love. I just wanted to make that distinction because overweight does not equate to low self-love. It’s simply something that is relevant to some people.

If you haven’t read ‘I Heart Me’ and would like a taster, you can read some of it here for free. Hopefully you’ll find something you’re looking for.

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  1. Andree on February 18, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Love the new website,it is just so calming and has a sense of true grounding! The flower has well and truly bloomed in self love! Thank you x

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on February 19, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Andree. 🙂

  2. Christine Burns on February 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

    You get to the’heart’ of the issue as always, David. I’m finding I Heart Me fascinating and humbling as realisation dawns that even after many years of working with people on positive thinking, stress release, manifestation, etc., I’ve slipped down an incline (that’s all I’ll allow it to be at present) since my husband died and I retired from work. I’ve got some work to do on me but I’ll get there 🙂 Thanks for all your efforts…they help a lot of people.

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on February 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

      Thanks Christine. I’m so sorry to hear that your husband died. I can empathise with how you feel. Sometimes, when we help others, this becomes a large focus and we actually forget that we also need a hug, and some help and support, from time to time. In your own time you’ll know when it’s time to shift a little of the focus onto some your own needs. Thank you for your kind and humbling words too. You have helped me be more real today. 🙂

  3. Gillian Holland on February 18, 2015 at 11:51 am

    As always a timely piece, echoing my own experience re. weight loss as well as writing. Thank you for sharing it. I don’t like using the word ‘battle’ because its counter productive, in my own writing (and I am yet to be published) I am also learning to love myself. Thank you once again

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on February 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Thanks Gillian. And good luck with your writing. As you are learning to love yourself, I have no doubt the words you write will benefit those who read them. 🙂

  4. vicky on February 18, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Yay your amazing amazing amazing yay jiggy dance round the kitchen shame you cant see it yay xxx

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on February 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

      🙂 Vicky. You made me laugh. 🙂

  5. Pat Wells on February 18, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you David. As always, guiding us along the right path to self fulfilment. would self love be along the lines of being contented with one’s life and yet? wondering at the same time how we could improve ourselves for others

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on February 19, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Thanks Pat. Yes, part of it does produce a feeling of contentment with life. I think self-improvement is a continual thing and quite natural. Sometimes, the motivation might be to enable you to be of more service to others. From a self-love perspective, you might recognise this desire and then acknowledge that the desire itself says that you are a kind person. In this way, you also acknowledge the positive ‘I Am’… as in ‘I am a kind person’. Doing this very simple piece of ‘mental gymnasrics’ very often leads to spontaneous change in that you then start to see ways that you can be of greater service. But the main difference is that you’re not trying to be a better person and be of more service as a consequence, you’re acknowledging that you are already a good person and the inspiration to serve is then spontaneous, creative, and much more powerful. 🙂

  6. Angelika on February 19, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Thank you, David! This was just what I needed to hear, as I’ve been pondering for the past couple of weeks acceptance of the things I’d like to be different. The connection with self-love had not been very clear to me, but now I can see how this ties in. If another person treats me in a way I cannot possibly accept, but I love that person (so just ignoring their behaviour or them altogether isn’t an option) I have to invoke self-love to get to a point where that other person’s behaviour isn’t bothering me anymore. It’s kind of shifting the focus from far to near. I have found Ho’oponopono to be the best method for me to get there – I keep repeating: I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you! And it works very well for me. But it is work and it needs to be done, pretty much constantly.

    Much love and a big hug! 🙂

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on February 19, 2015 at 11:42 am

      I’m really pleased this has been useful for you, Angelika. Yes, I find that as I increase my healthy self-love, other peoples’ behaviour bothers me less and less. You get a shift in perception and can see the pain in another that causes negative behaviour. It’s also OK to stand up for yourself, though, if another person’s negative behaviour is directly pointed at you, which can be done intelligently and kindly. Every situation is different. Ho’oponopono is so beautiful, and I think it says a lot about the lovely kind of person you are, Angelika. 🙂

  7. Helen J Salmon on March 1, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Omgoodness David, I just can not believe how you have just expressed with so much clarity the thoughts and realisations that have been brewing in my mind and conversations over the last couple of weeks. The critic keeps us stuck, loving acceptance enables transformation. Can’t wait to read your new book.

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