Stop Denying & Start Accepting

“I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing.”  – Michel de Montaigne

What do you really want? Take a moment to reflect on the things, people, and events in life that you want more than anything else. Allow yourself a moment of radical acceptance of your genuine and authentic desire for those things. What does it mean about you that you want those things? What judgments do you pass upon yourself for having those deep yearnings? Can you imagine the ways that your life would look and feel different if you took action on those desires?

Many of us spend a great deal of our lives denying the things that we really want. This is often unfortunate since we are taking a pure manifestation of our authentic desires and denying or repressing them. When those deep yearnings manifest themselves in appropriate or immature forms, it is easy to deny their existence or validity. Consider and accept the possibility that those yearnings – no matter how inappropriate or immature – have some validity to them. After all, you are the master creator of those yearnings, right?

The trick is to begin to acknowledge and accept your deepest desires as valid and find a way to satisfy your deepest needs in an appropriate and mature way. It is possible to meet those deep needs in ways that do not violate your most deeply cherished values or rights/wants/needs of others. But, as long as you deny that you feel as you legitimately do, you deprive yourself of the possibility of truly (and finally) meeting your real needs.

When you notice the internal gnawing sensation of emotions, desires, or needs that you are consciously denying:

  • Consider what information those emotions/desires/needs are trying to tell you.
  • Reflect on how you can get those needs met while adhering to your true values and refraining from harming others.
  • Think about what those deep desires/needs represent to you. What do you really want or need?

An unfortunate consequence of self invalidation is that you deprive yourself of getting your deepest desires and needs met. It is not uncommon to believe that what you really want or need is somehow bad, wrong, or unacceptable. Usually, these are core beliefs with their origins in childhood that stem from what our families of origin taught us about what we “should” want or need. The unfortunate truth is that quite often, what we really want and need has little or nothing to do with what our families believe we “should” want or need.

The more time and energy that is spent fighting against your true feelings, the more unnecessary suffering that you create in your own life. Take a moment to visualize one of your deepest needs, desires, or feelings that you spend time and energy denying. Now imagine that that need or desire is magically satisfied. How does your life look different if that deep need is met? Reflect on any potential fears that you may have about your life changing in some important way(s) a result of those deep needs being met.

Most of us work towards finding a healthy balance between getting our true needs and desires met and reaching our chosen life goals. Quite often, we discover that we cannot “have it all.” This is when one must make choices about the things that they really want in life based on their true priorities. Generally, these priorities can be discovered through a honest self-examination of true values – the things in life that really matter to you the most.

Once you have a clear and authentic awareness of your most deeply cherished values, consider the ways in which you can begin to mold your behaviors to be more in line with those values. It is not uncommon to feel an inner sense of anxiety or discontent when thought and deed are not aligned. Each new day provides you with the opportunity to begin to shift your actions to be in line with your true values. Embrace the fear that comes along with all important life changes. What do you have to lose other than fear and discontent?

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Featured image: welcome life with open arms by Charlotte McKnight / CC BY 2.0

About Laura K. Schenck, Ph.D., LPC

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. Some of my academic interests include: Dialectical Behavior Therapy, mindfulness, stress reduction, work/life balance, mood disorders, identity development, supervision & training, and self-care.

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