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Beginning in childhood, all I saw were my faults and imperfections, not my gifts. I believed my unique personality was flawed.

Being a stubborn lad, I decided to show my father, friends, and the world how lovable and memorable I was. I went out into the world, determined to be whomever I needed to be to fit in. I didn’t know I wouldn’t feel accepted by others if I didn’t accept myself. Go figure, I would find my substance of choice to remove the pain of non-acceptance.

After years of suffering, I realized I had let go of seeking outside myself for acceptance, and then, the right people started to show up in my life to embrace my uniqueness as I would theirs. I begin to find my people, especially the people in recovery. It was challenging in the beginning. I had to catch myself when I found I was trying to change myself to fit in.

We all have shortcomings. Recognizing that this is part of being human took away a lot of my shame, self-judgment, and comparing myself to others. It allowed me to begin the vital work of unconditional self-acceptance, one of the most important principles of solid recovery and healing the inner child.

I have committed to treating myself with kindness, unconditional self-compassion, and self-acceptance to the best of my ability for the last 20 years. Love blossomed in this fertile soil, and I began to stop blaming and criticizing myself. I also committed to only having close relationships with people who knew and fully accepted the real me.

To fully accept ourselves, we must courageously acknowledge the harm we’ve done to ourselves and others. We must be willing to share our darkness with someone we trust to be free of it. Without the practice of unconditional self-acceptance, I wouldn’t have been able to look at myself objectively, forgive myself and others, and become my best friend. And make my amends.

“A certain darkness is needed to see the stars.” ~ Osho, mystic, founder of the Rajneesh movement

This compassion allowed me to accept my human self, with all its imperfections, in one hand and my divine self in the other. I could silence the voice of self-judgment and begin to live authentically.

It also made it easier to accept others as they are. I began to relax and enjoy who I am.

Self Acceptance and Love take off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

Sincerely, Paul Noiles

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