How Self-Acceptance Enables Us to Connect with Others and the Moment


“By accepting yourself and being fully what you are, your presence can make others happy.” ~Jane Roberts

I recently received one of the nicest compliments from a co-worker.

As nice as it was to hear someone validate all of the hard work I do and recognize my passionate desire to use music as a way empower people, I found that the compliment was just one, all-too-brief moment in a day dominated by schedules, meetings, and not nearly enough time for me to enjoy what was happening around me.

I should have felt great, but I was so distracted by my work that I did not have access to feeling good.

As soon as I went to my next appointment, I immediately focused on what that person was thinking of me. Did this co-worker think I was any good at the project? Did I have enough time to finish everything I promised to do that day?

As the afternoon went on, I noticed that I was not present to the people around me, and things that I would normally take in stride were really starting to annoy me.

By the end of the day, I found myself focusing on the negative in a way that that did not coincide with the same person who my co-worker had complimented.

A short five hours later, I had almost totally forgotten the compliment had ever happened.

Then the guilt set in. How could I be the person that the co-worker had complimented when, by the end of the day, I was negative, grouchy, and not feeling deserving of any praise at all?

The negativity was so bad that I found myself thinking, “If he knew the real me, he would probably take back the compliment.”

I was leaving a voicemail for a dear friend, relating the accounts of my day, when the following words came out of my mouth: “Why is it that I am so quick to dwell on the things that are not going the way that I would want, and I miss the magic all around me every day?”

Reaching out to a trusted friend instantly gave me perspective. It also brought me the clarity to see that I was letting my own expectations of myself blind me to all of the good happening right there and then.

It is only when I recognize that the good around me that I feel confident enough to risk just living from my deepest truth.

What is the point of living the life of your dreams without also having the awareness that it is happening?

My life is amazing. I am surrounded by wonderfully supportive people. I always have everything I need, even if it does not come to me in the way or time that I expect. I know this is true, so why wasn’t I able to see that?

Somewhere along the way I started to believe that I needed to pretend to be perfect or have all of the answers to have people accept me. I forgot that it is when I am my imperfect self, who has more questions than answers, that I am able connect with others.

The real me is more than enough. Any time I believe anything different and stop giving of myself, I do a disservice to the people around me and myself.

After having this realization, I slept a deep and peaceful sleep and woke up renewed.

I made a conscious decision to focus on being my authentic self, being grateful for all of the good around me, and ignoring anything that did not match up with that belief.

Through this experience, I learned:

1. Accepting yourself allows you to be present to your self.

That next day was just as busy as the previous, in fact, even more so. Armed with my new outlook, I felt more comfortable risking being who I really am, and the results were amazing.

As soon as something came up that had the potential to knock me out of myself, I checked in with myself and asked, “What does my authentic, deepest self think is the next right thing in this situation?”

I then shared that best part of myself with the people around me and found to my shock, not only did they accept what my truth offered in the situation, but also they were grateful that I was being myself.

When you stop pretending to be something you’re not, you give yourself space to simply be—and like me, you may find that others accept and appreciate you for who you really are.

2. When you are present to yourself, you can be present to others.

I was enough. Not only that, when I stopped pretending to have all the answers, stopped trying to be perfect, when I was able to stop being so attached to what everyone was expecting of me, I was free to enjoy everything that was happening around me.

Being connected with myself allowed me to be more present to the people in my life. I work with large groups of people on a regular basis; being present to large groups people is an integral part of what I do.

Sometimes when you share a part of yourself that you think isn’t your best, it can be that very thing that makes you most compelling to others. Someone else may see your perceived brokenness as a gift.

3. When you can be present to others by being yourself, it allows the ordinary to become extraordinary.

The group I worked with later that day commented that something was different about our performance. One person related that everyone was smiling from the inside out. Colors seemed more vibrant, smells seemed more aromatic, and sounds were more melodious.

When you are able to be present to yourself, you can be present to others, and this allows you to connect to something more than you ever could be on your own.

When I get caught up in my day, I start to lose touch with myself and soon after start to lose touch with others, as well.

When I give myself permission to be less than perfect, it allows me to see that everything is just the way it needs to be, including me.

Photo by s.h.u.t.t.e.r.b.u.g.

About Michael John

Michael John Trotta is a composer, conductor, and educator whose music is performed and published all over the world. His music empowers people to find the extraordinary in the present moment. He and his wife Rachel, live in Virginia Beach where he is Director of Choral Music at Virginia Wesleyan. Support his newest project, Mystical Voices, here.

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