A Coaching Power Tool By Lyda Michopoulou, Transformational Coach, GREECE
What Is the Difference Between Self-Acceptance vs. Taboo?
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. Marilyn Monroe
As I was researching and taking my time to carefully select a power tool that speaks to me, there were a lot of ideas in my mind. None of those could surpass the power tool I ended up selecting “Self-Acceptance vs. Taboo”. It is a topic that has resonated the most throughout my life and it’s still relevant.
From a young age, I remember myself struggling to fit within the norms and frames my parents, school, and society have created for people like me. I remember asking questions about topics that sometimes my parents and most of the time my teachers considered taboo and told me to never repeat. Topics like mental health, birth control, abortion, sex, gender identity, who I am as a person, who defines me, and more.
During my university years, I had the luck to have a few professors who cared about me becoming a critical thinker and encouraged me to voraciously read all kinds of books, broaching taboo topics and not. It was right there and then, that I realized that we, humans, create all these taboos and therefore restrict ourselves to living within specific frames never delving outside. It was at that moment that a journey of self-discovery and ultimately self-acceptance was born.
This power tool is the culmination of my journey of self-acceptance. The concept of this power tool evokes awareness of taboos clients have in their lives that obstruct them from reaching self-acceptance.
The more conformist the culture, the tabooer “no” becomes. Martha Beck
According to Wikipedia, the taboo is an implicit prohibition on an utterance or behavior based on a cultural meaning that is very much repulsive or too sacred for ordinary people. These prohibitions are present in virtually all societies. When taboos are applied to only a subsection of the community, they can also serve to suppress said subsection of the community.
The meaning of the word “taboo” has been somewhat expanded in the social sciences to strong prohibitions relating to any area of human activity or custom that is sacred or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs, or cultural norms. “Breaking a taboo” is usually considered objectionable by society, not merely a subset of a culture.
In regards to this power tool, the taboo is defined as a restrictive frame associated with values or beliefs that a person holds because of the community they live in, the environment they were raised or the education they received. These taboos hold the person back disallowing them to fully explore themselves and ultimately arrive at self-acceptance of who they are, who they want to become, and which are the values they would like to live their life to.
People holding or having taboos in their lives might often have a negative attitude, find difficulty in acknowledging their weaknesses and faults, might be constantly critical or even confused about their identity, and/or end up wishing they were different than who they are.
Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts them. Lao Tzu
As the name suggests, the meaning of self-acceptance is the total acceptance of oneself, of both one’s positive and negative characteristics. It is a lot simpler to appreciate the value in one’s strengths, but for genuine self-acknowledgment to happen, an individual should have the option to accept the negative, less-beneficial pieces of oneself.
True self-acceptance is defined as being aware of both a person’s strengths and weaknesses without associating negative emotions or judgment on who they are. It means having the ability to be objective about a person’s positive and negative characteristics without compromising their self-worth.
Being able to accept oneself means that a person understands that their actions and qualities don’t define their value; making mistakes, having flaws, failing, don’t define them as a person. Arriving at such a level of self-acceptance can be difficult; however, acknowledging one’s failures, weaknesses, and possible flaws is the only true way a person can begin to work on them and create real progress.
Attaining unconditional self-acceptance is essential to a person’s mental and emotional health. When a person has self-acceptance, they might have better mood regulation, have fewer depressive symptoms and experience increased positive emotions. Also, there is a variety of benefits associated with fully accepting oneself such as:
- increased freedom to be themselves
- feeling less fear of failure
- having increased self-worth
- living more authentically because they are living for themselves
- feeling more independence and autonomy to live their life
- less desire to win others’ approval
The road towards self-acceptance goes through developing self-compassion about oneself; being able to forgive and love oneself taking into consideration one’s flaws and weaknesses, their shadow self, and personality traits that a person might have been judged for in the past. With self-acceptance, a person is ultimately affirming who they are.
Self-Acceptance vs. Taboo in Self-Discovery
Self-acceptance, no matter how significant or insignificant, arms the client with new possibilities, new learning points, new beliefs, new knowledge of who they are. When discovering oneself, self-acceptance offers pathways that the client may have never discovered any other way. Restrictive beliefs or taboos should never stop anyone from discovering and fully accepting themselves. Every day, people get confronted with many beliefs, so they might as well have many opportunities to reframe those beliefs.
This power tool is about evoking awareness and reframing perspectives from a restrictive belief, a taboo belief to one of self-acceptance and empowerment.
The Coach may hear the client making statements like:
“I am not x enough.”
“I have x taboos about myself.”
“I can’t accept x about myself.”
“I don’t deserve compassion, love, acceptance.”
“I am not worthy of acceptance.”
Coaches at this point are invited to use any of the suggested questions below to support their client(s) in reframing their taboo beliefs into self-accepting ones:
- What makes you feel that others deserve compassion, love, acceptance and you don’t?
- What emotions emerge when you say “you are not enough”? What behavior do you exhibit?
- What makes you think that this is taboo for you?
- What would the situation look like if you were living a life of self-acceptance?
- What support would you need to take the first step towards self-acceptance?
- What would a life of self-acceptance look like?
- What would you do if having no taboos was an option?
- What needs to change so that you can say yes to a life of self-acceptance?
What Can Be Done to Overcome Taboos and Move Toward Self-Acceptance if They Are Still Strong?
If taboos are holding strong, what can one do to move past them and towards self-acceptance? How does one review the stories they have created or others have created for them about how their life would look like with or without taboos in them?
During the coaching sessions, the coach can ask the client questions that will help them reflect on what taboos they hold dear versus how self-acceptance can change their life.
Coaches can propose to the client self-compassion and/or gratitude exercises between sessions that may help them discover themselves better, learn how to be grateful for who they are while accepting every part of themselves.