Finding Self-acceptance through Gratitude

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Never in my life would I ever have thought I’d be grateful for my small, wide, Flintstone feet.

Yep, these little piggies shaped like a rectangle get more compliments, all because I can find great shoes (at steep discounts). Thank God for my size 6, high arch, wide feet.

I didn’t always feel this way. I used to bemoan the fact that nobody carried my size, plus I had to get “comfort” shoes. In my mind I pictured geriatric, orthopedics in a beguiling shade of beige. Then a shift happened. I decided to embrace my funky soul (sole) and discovered some great brands, such as L’Artiste. Now my tootsies are shod in bright, expressive, and slightly flamboyant shoes. They’re no longer a body part disappointment, but the rock stars.

What does hip footwear have to do with gratitude and self-acceptance?

Everything.

Gratitude is the practice of focusing on the positive aspects of what’s happening. This is easy when life is filled with rainbows and everything is strumming along easily, but throw in a detour such as a job or relationship loss and it’s harder to find the good. Our natural inclination is to get sucked into the drama, hurt, anger or frustration. We become fixated on the “why is this happening to me” refrain.

Shifting our focus in these times of struggle takes strength and fortitude. Gratitude helps us to find the lesson in the changes taking place or reminds us that we’re not alone in our struggles. It reveals resources and opportunities. It highlights our resilience and offers hope.

Being grateful for our family, friends, career or belonging is uncomplicated. We recognize these blessings and can name them with ease. They’re gifts from our external world. The greater challenge is being grateful for our authentic selves, our inner world.

We sit in judgment of ourselves constantly: measuring our achievements against others, criticizing our efforts, and listing our faults. Nothing is sacred. Our own bodies are targets for self-denigration, our talents found lacking, and compassion for ourselves isn’t always available. We treat ourselves in a way we wouldn’t treat a friend or even a stranger.

Turning gratitude towards ourselves can feel almost debilitating. Taking a healthy look at who we truly are, without our armor in place, is scary. Will we like who we are? Yes and no. We all have parts of ourselves we wished were different, but self-acceptance comes from being grateful for our whole self.

So, how do we shift our gratitude inward?

If you have a gratitude journal, devote one night a week to being grateful for you. If you’re not a writer, use the time for reflection or meditation. Identify three to five things in the past week that you’re grateful for. Ideas include:

• What act of kindness did you do this week that made you feel incredible?

• What special skill do you have that brings you joy?

• What part of your body are you in love with? (We all have one. Maybe it’s your ears if you’re a great listener!)

• What achievement made you feel like a superhero?

• Who do you love unconditionally?

• How did you help someone this week?

• How were you a good friend?

• What lesson did you take from a disappointing outcome?

By focusing our gratitude on ourselves, we begin to emerge stronger. Self-acceptance is the foundation for self-confidence. Perceived faults are transformed into strengths that we want to explore and show off — the parts of us we kept hidden want to be in the light and be seen.

That brings me back to my kick-ass shoes. I’m grateful for my feet, even though they are short, wide and require me to buy “comfort” footwear. My feet take me places, helping me explore this wide wonderful world. I can rock out to my favorite ’80s bands and work in my garden. The biggest bonus is that I can choose each day how I want to express myself, all with the help of a pair of shoes.

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Kirstin Chatfield Barsness
Kirstin Barsness is a life coach, writer, speaker, teacher and artist. She works with professional women who want to live a fuller, more purposeful life, believing that each of us holds the power to transform. Kirstin received her certified profession coach designation from the World Coach Institute. She’s been published on numerous times in The Edge, teaches meditation through community education, and is a motivational speaker. Kirstin is a certified aromatherapist and certified crystal healer. In addition to her life coaching, Kirstin has owned and operated a consulting business for over 20 years. Her passions include her two amazing daughters and any creative project, especially watercolor painting, digging in her flower garden, walking her dog, being out in nature, and connecting with friends over a steaming cup of tea. Contact her at [email protected]

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