This is a part of The Cultivate Project. A once a month project where I explore mindsets and practices we can cultivate and nurture to bring more care to ourselves and others.
Have you tried sitting in stillness, in your thoughts, in your own heart? Do you feel a resistance to it? Does it feel weird and awkward? I felt all these when I began sitting in silent meditation. It’s not a natural feeling at first and I’d venture to say many people resist it because there is an apprehension to what they might find there. What negative and shame filled thoughts might surface and begin to take over. It’s hard to face those thoughts in the silent moments by yourself.
But it’s so worth when you learn to take those thoughts and recognize them for what they are. Taking those thoughts and sending them on their way or sitting with it and wondering why you’d have those thoughts. If you do the second part, you may learn some things about yourself. Not necessarily that the thoughts are true but they reveal parts that you may not like about yourself. Parts that you may be holding on to or parts that you wish could be different. They may reveal your weaknesses and that often can bring shame, when it shouldn’t.
It’s these weaknesses and experiences that we struggle with that I want to talk about. Our weaknesses or experiences we have in moments of weakness aren’t always negative. Yes, we can write them off as learning lessons. We can also take that and say yes, I’m not great at this or this weakness of mine can hold me back. This is acceptance. Acceptance we won’t be strong and great in everything we want to be. Acceptance that our weaknesses are another portion that makes us who we are. However do we really need to put a negative connotation on it?
How about this instead: Our weaknesses, when accepted by us, can actually cause us to look for new relationships with people who are strong in that area or look to strengthen already existing relationships. And the building of relationships is worth every bit of that. We are not meant to be alone.
I’ve heard before that we tend to judge others or be tough on others about weaknesses that we actually have ourselves. What we are tough on ourselves about, we are also tough on others. Here, instead of accepting our weaknesses and working within them, we push ourselves to correct or strengthen our weaknesses, or hide them. And we expect other people to do the same. And when they don’t, it’s a relationship killer.
But what if instead we accepted those weaknesses, worked with them, and instead focused on our strengths. This is the idea behind the Clifton Strengths Finder – determine your strengths and work to build on those. You aren’t forgetting or ignoring your weaknesses, you are just recognizing that another person with that weakness as their strength would make a fantastic teammate for you. Build up those relationships.
Once we get comfortable with our weaknesses and our strengths and all of the in between, it leaves room for acceptance. Acceptance of who we have been, who we are, and most importantly who we want to become. Acceptance is about wholeness. And acceptance all of yourself leads to trusting yourself. This allows yourself to open up to other relationships with acceptance and trust.
This act requires us to quiet the ego which in turn leads to more empathy and acceptance towards others. Something the world needs now. However, we must first learn to quiet our ego and lean into acceptance and most of all be willing to do this. Willing to sit with ourselves and to begin again.
This is tied into strength – it takes strength to do this. But you can. And you should because it’s also about self-love. Accepting all of ourselves, not just our strengths or good parts (that’s only feeding the ego), but all of ourselves is an act of self love. We need this. And the more we open ourselves to loving every part, the more we allow others to love those parts and we in turn can love others in the way they deserve to be loved: not just for their strengths or good parts.