Client story: "Self-acceptance doesn't work for me," said Mary, sounding weary. "I just can't do it." "Why not?" I asked. "Because," she said, pointing at herself, "I don't know who this 'self' is that I'm meant to be accepting."

Lesson: The journey of self-acceptance starts when you acknowledge that you don't seem to know much about yourself. Your personality, or ego, finds it difficult to answer questions like "Who am I?" and "What do I want?" Being asked to describe yourself at a job interview or for a dating agency profile, for instance, can feel excruciating and practically impossible because you haven't really been paying attention.

True self-acceptance is motivated by the possibility of knowing what your true essence—the Unconditioned Self—is really like.

Exercise: Self-acceptance is the process of befriending the Unconditioned Self—the part of you that is more than just your name, your history, your story, your failures or your successes. You are more than just your experiences or how other people see you or the clothes you wear.

Reflect on this today: What is most authentic about you? What do you want people to really know about you? Who are you without your ego? Be still, and really listen to how you answer. Then, write down in your journal the qualities that describe your real, unconditioned self. If you're having a little trouble answering these questions for yourself, try writing a biography of your real self in 100 words.

Next: How to practice self-kindness


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