I've been thinking a lot about who I am for the last few weeks. I've been trying to understand the phrase "unconditional acceptance."
I have come to understand that I should unconditionally accept myself. What exactly would I be accepting? How can I accept myself unconditionally if I don't know who or what I am?
Am I my thoughts?
If I am my thoughts, then all the convoluted paths my thoughts take would be part of me. Every passing notion, each unbidden idea, would be a piece of me.
If I am not my thoughts, then I am only observing them. I can decide which ones are valid and which ones to disregard. I can take charge of them when they race down a dark and dangerous path.
I think they are mine, but they are not me.
Am I my feelings?
If I am not my feelings then they are only passing chemical reactions, something that happens to me and is outside of my control.
If I am my feelings, then they are valid reactions to what I am experiencing.
I think my feelings are part of what I am. I don't think I would be me without them.
Am I my actions?
I would not hold someone responsible for behaving in ways that were unpleasant or harmful, if the person couldn’t know the outcome.
I have often told my children I didn’t like something they did. Of course this never meant that I didn’t like them.
I have been told to be angry at a choice someone made, but not at the person.
If I behave badly, make a poor choice, it doesn't change who I am.
It seems I am not my actions.
Am I my body?
If I lost an arm, would I be less of a person, less me than I am now?
If I woke up one morning and was looking out of a face I’d never seen before, would I still be me?
My body has changed a lot in my lifetime, but I think I am still the same person.
I do not think my body is me.
Am I a collection of my experiences and memories?
If I am, then who was I when I was born? I existed. I was alive. I must have been someone.
There are things I didn’t remember until quite recently. Am I a different person now because I remember them? I feel differently about some things, but I still have a sense of continuity.
I think I was the same person the day before and the day after I lost my virginity. I think I am the same person today as I was when I skinned my knees rollerskating as a child, started college, and gave birth to my children.
I would be different if I had been raised in a different country, or been born to different parents. There are a million things that could have happened or may happen that could change my life.
But does that mean they would change who I am?
I think it would still be me, no matter what happened along the way. I do not think I am my memories and experiences. I think I learn from them, but they are not me.
Are my dissociative parts me?
I often had the sense that “I” wasn’t there when I would dissociate. My body was there and functioning, speaking and thinking, but it wasn’t me. Someone else would appear to protect me, to take over when I couldn’t handle something, to have fun or take care of me when I was punishing and denying myself.
Are these parts really me?
I have been thinking of these parts as individuals, friends, children, protectors, sometimes even as enemies, but not as me.
I have been letting them in a little at a time, but still, I have kept this one section of me separate – the part that feels like me. These other parts of me are there, I am aware of their thoughts and feelings and wants and needs. They feel like more than a memory or an experience.
I think these must be part of me.
Like my feelings, I have looked at these dissociative parts of me as things that happen TO me. I have been letting them in, "integrating" them, but still I am not really accepting them - not accepting that they are as valid as every other part of me.
I need to learn to accept my emotions and these other sides of me unconditionally, and completely, because they are parts of me.
Just thoughts... if you're looking for answers, you'll have to look within.