Many people believe that they must be dissatisfied with themselves, or that they must reject themselves, or feel guilt or shame in order to have a motive for self-improvement or growth. They wonder, “If I accept and love myself as I am, what motive will I have for continuing to change, grow or improve?”
Accepting ourselves, as we are, is not a deterrent to continuing our efforts to learn, grow and improve ourselves. We can easily accept ourselves and still continue to improve our character and increase our knowledge.
The First Grader
Perhaps the example of children in grade school will help us to understand this. These children in the first grades of grade school do not reject themselves because they are not in a higher grade, or because they do not know as much, or are not as capable as those children in the higher grades. They accept themselves as they are, and are happy with themselves with their present level of abilities and knowledge.
Yet, no child would accept remaining in the same grade the next year or year after year.
In the same way, there is no conflict between accepting and feeling comfortable with our temporarily limited abilities and lower level of conscious, and our need to continue growing. It is natural to accept and love ourselves at his present stage of growth and simultaneously to attend to learning, evolving and improving ourselves
Growth is a natural instinctual need. Scientists have discovered that when a person learns something new, this creates the excretion of endomorphines and other positively reinforcing chemicals in the brain. Learning brings pleasure, when it is natural and not connected to fear of rejection and failure.
But there are yet other motives for action and growth, and these are love and the need for creativity. We need to love and to create, just as we need to sleep and eat. These are basic needs, even if they are higher on the need-hierarchy scale.
Thus, even if we do not have self-rejection or dissatisfaction as a motivating force, we will always have love and creativity as motivating forces to grow, create and produce.
Let us grow naturally without fear or self-doubt.
We are all in the first grade of the school of spiritual growth.
But we need to prepare ourselves
to be in the second grade next year,
and the third the year after