If you’re over 35 you may recognise this:
“Compared to my younger peers I am under-performing. I thought by now I would have achieved more.”
It is time to look differently at what really matters in life.
We’re all unique
What matters is to realise that no person is the same. We all have our struggles and stories. The fact that some younger people are at the same level as you means nothing.
One key challenge that most of us struggle with is that we compare ourselves to others. In a work situation, seeing that a younger person is as successful as us, is an easy comparison. We are taught to focus externally. That is why self-acceptance is so difficult.
We have different experiences
I find it terribly frustrating to see that a person 15-20 years younger than me has investment properties. But when I tell people what I have done with my life, how I’ve pursuit my dreams, many people are blown away. When a 30yo recently told me how they just bought a second investment property I felt suitably inadequate.
We have our own journey
I know people who have been in a job for at least 15 years now and they didn’t like
When I first met that person, they were a rock and inspiration to me and many others. The last time I saw this person, it was as if all life’s energy was sucked out of them. Their body posture showed me that they were insecure, their skin tone was dull, there was no spark of life in their eyes. To me, they’re not successful.
Self-acceptance is based on your values
I value personal growth and personal development. I also appreciate the fact that I have made so many of my dreams come true, that I have travelled the world and that I am working towards my purpose, making the world a better place.
As an illustration, for a person who values financial security, stability (have one job for 15 years), mortgage paid off, my life is a massive failure and would be a cause of significant levels of stress. For a person who values personal development, travel, “life experience” and realising dreams, my life is exciting and I have been very successful.
What defines self-acceptance?
To define what self-acceptance means to you, you need to ask yourself this question: What do I value most?
You can only answer that question by turning inward and reflecting on what is important to you. Neither your colleagues, nor your friends, nor your parents, not even your partner can answer that question for you.
To define what success means to us we need to consider our values and beliefs.
Your own vs adopted values
Values and beliefs are a minefield. Often we adopt values and beliefs from our parents, our community (religion, work), and our peers (friends). We don’t question them, but it doesn’t mean they are right for us.
When I first came out for being gay to my parents, my dad said he was disappointed because “I imagined you coming to visit us with a wife, two kids and dog in the back of the car.”
The truth? So did I.
This idea of “the perfect family” was a value that we both adopted from the society we lived in. Fortunately, we both realised, that it was a value that was not appropriate for me. We both accepted that my life was going to turn out differently.
Review your values and adjust
But that brings me to something fundamental. You have to be careful not to judge other people by your values and beliefs. Everybody is different, so you have to accept that about other people too. In other words, even though my dad and I recognised that this value wasn’t appropriate for me, we didn’t apply this belief to everybody else.
Find out if a value is your own?
There are two ways of finding that out:
Have have you ever challenged your values?
A personal example is open relationships. Not only did I never believe in them, but also I uncritically adopted the belief from my parents and the society I grew up in, that they were wrong. However, when I started to explore what kind of relationship I would like to be in, I decided to explore open relationships. What does it mean to be in one? Why are people in them? For this reason, I read a book to understand more about it, and I listen to people who have been in one, or who are in one. Consequently, have my (educated) opinion, based on what I value in relationships.
In fact, as teenagers, many of us rebel against our parents and resist some of the shared values in our community. We dress differently, reject what our parents say and do the opposite of what our parents tell us to do. Rebelling is one way of challenging our beliefs. You can also educate yourself about a belief system that you have.
The language you use
We often make decisions that are not necessarily according to our own values and beliefs. Language is one of the best ways of identifying whether that is the case. “I should have…” is a great indicator you’re measuring your actions by somebody else’s values and beliefs. “It is important to my partner that …” and “My parents would be so disappointed in me” are also great indicators that the values and beliefs we live by are not our own.
Where you’re at vs what you want
The challenge when you start to question your values and beliefs is that you may realise that you’re living a life that is not according to how you would choose to live your life.
Belief it or not, that is okay.
You have to accept that you have made the right decisions. Maybe you had a relationship break down; you moved cities, you had to look after a sick parent, you moved countries. We all have our journey, acknowledging that is part of self-accpetance.
Self-acceptance proceeds success
Did you know that you’re never too old to change?
So next time when you get envious of that much younger person in your team, accept that you are in the right place at the right time and that you have the power to create a better life for yourself…. if that is what you value.
Now, let’s create something positive. Contact me and find out how.