I truly appreciate these wise and loving words offered by Thich Nhat Hanh: “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
Throughout the development of human nature the desire to fit in and be accepted by society, a chosen group, or family is ever present. Some believe this psychological drive is tied to our fear of being banished from the group. In early human development, being excluded from the group was a real threat to survival.
In our modern world survival is not as dependent upon being a part of the community or family. Nonetheless, individuals excluded from community-based on defined norms usually seek others like themselves. We have an internal urge to connect with others. We want to be a part of a group or family. This urge is natural and nature models this innate design for us to observe. We see fish in schools, birds in flocks, bees and ants in large communities, and this model goes on and on.
Unfortunately, at the high cost of internal distress, some people struggle to feel at ease within society or the family. Some, most often our youngsters, will deny or try to hide who they truly are as they strive to fit in with peers or family. Some people feel obligated to deny and suppress identity as they try to fit a mold established by religion, society, or family.
A person will enter into self-denial of this type when he or she believes there is something wrong or unacceptable about themselves. They internally accept the judgment of others as being correct, and they act in accordance with this judgment. This is the point that Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh made so eloquently.
Rather than seek the acceptance of family and society, begin within. Am I at peace with myself? Do I accept myself as I am? If not, look deeper within to uncover the source of your disapproval. Whose voice do you hear? Is it the voice of parents, peers, teachers, or is it your own? If the voice is your own, that’s wonderful.
You have the power to change your identity. Above all, only you have the power to love and accept yourself just as you are. Be yourself and love yourself. Remember this: what others think of me is none of my business. JOY!