Balancing acceptance and commitment

I’m trying to practice the kind of self-love and self-worth you wrote about in a previous blog post. But it’s hard! How can I love myself as I am, when there are things I know I can do better? I could be kinder to myself, I could be more respectful to my partner, I could be more present as a parent to my toddler. If I accept myself as I am, why would I change? And yet I know I need to!

You’re right, this is so hard. I want to offer you the idea of balance. Like swaying or rocking back and forth while holding a baby, you’re balanced on your feet while shifting your weight from one side to the other. This work of acceptance and commitment to change takes a kind of balance that is sometimes difficult — but always important.

One the one side, we have acceptance. Acceptance is full of forgiveness, grace, benefit of the doubt, good intentions. The message is “I am okay. Right now, just as I am, I can just be.” On the other side we have commitment to change. Commitment to change is full of motivation, encouragement, acknowledgment of short-comings, willingness. The message is “I can try again, I can make a different choice.”

Balancing acceptance of the now with a commitment to change in the future is the way you can both love yourself as you are and hold yourself accountable to change.  We need both sides to have balance, too much of one or the other and we fall over. Bottom line?

You are enough. You are doing your best right now in this moment. And you can try again, or try something new, the next time.

We find these ideas especially helpful for new and expectant parents— the phrase, “let’s try again” is so important because it simultaneously acknowledges acceptance in the moment and hope for change in the future. An online collection of essays about parenthood, Coffee + Crumbs, recently posted about finding this balance as parents. Feeling fatigued by new parenthood and unmotivated to exercise today? You are growing a baby, rest is as important as activity (acceptance) and let’s try again tomorrow to take a long walk (commitment to change). Toddler having a melt-down and refusing to nap after a long morning of errands? Scoop up that kid in your arms with a big smooch and let’s try again tomorrow to get back on the afternoon nap routine (commitment to change).

Could you use some help balancing acceptance and commitment to change, in your life or in your relationships? Call Emily Cook Therapy in Bethesda today! We can help.