There are many times in our lives when we look back and think that we could have done things differently. It is common to think of “what ifs” and “if only I had done that” which can be overwhelming and lead to a multitude of mental health issues. The issues may range from anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and even manifest themselves as physical health concerns. It is unpleasant to deal with any of those situations, however, there may also be concerns about how it affects our community as a whole. If Pagans run away from who they are because of societal conditioning or humiliation, how can they grow as individuals?
The act of accepting oneself as a whole is self acceptance. Self acceptance requires accepting both our “good” and our “bad” aspects.
How Self Acceptance could help Paganism
I’d like to think that Paganism is the type of Path which allows people to be themselves without the fear of judgement or shame. Unlike the monotheistic paths I grew up with (Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity) I think the Pagan community tends to be more accepting of people’s experiences, negative or positive. There is still a large amount of sensitivity which needs to develop in our community, however, I think we have the kind of environment that is suited to only improve as time goes on.
Is there a reason why Paganism differs from Christianity on this subject? Some of us might be exhausted from wearing masks and pretending to be okay when we aren’t. There are some of us who are tired of the toxic positivity that comes with being on a spiritual path governed by guilt or shame. We won’t develop spiritually if we don’t allow ourselves to be honest with ourselves.
Because of self-acceptance in Paganism:
- We do not need to feel guilty about a failing marriage or relationship. People may change (or mature) and grow apart. Relationships are organic. It is okay to change during the course of your life and admit that you are not who you once were.
- We do not need to feel shame about our mental health. We can go to a therapist, get the treatment we need, and there is nothing wrong with saying we’re not okay.
- We can be proud of the oaths we make and when we keep them. Oathing is a huge practice in my particular church. We often do “Oaths and Boasts” and boasting about something you did is a great way of owning your accomplishments. There is no stigma to be humble when you’ve done something that benefits you or the community! (I’m not saying you can’t be shy, however, it isn’t a hard rule for those who do want to share.)
- We can admit our past flaws and continue to work on them. We do not have the image of “everyone has to be perfect and great all the time.” It’s okay to come as you are and share that with others.
- We can believe that not everything is a victory. As the great Captain Picard once said, “Sometimes you can do everything right and still fail.” Failing is an important part of human culture because when we fail we get the opportunity to learn from our experience.
I think that Paganism excels in this field because we don’t follow an old-fashioned doctrine that governs our lives. There are no 10 rules to pigeon-hole us into categories we can’t live up to in the real world. There is no single God and no eternal hell or heaven scenario imposed on us. I admit I may be critical of monotheism, however I’m proud to be a Pagan because we are so different.
The Power of Self Acceptance on the Individual
Throughout this article, I’ve illustrated how self-acceptance benefits the Pagan community as a whole. For solitary Pagans, what does self acceptance look like?
Self acceptance is the key to understanding our true inner power. Without a solid understanding of who we are in reality, there is no foundation to build upon. Without self acceptance, there is only the ego or delusion which creates a myriad of stumbling blocks for us. Daily life can be a nightmare if we don’t understand the “why” and the “how” behind our actions.
Solitary Pagans make up the community whether they engage with a group or not. They are equally important in our journey as those who attend a church or coven. I think the solitary Pagans’ ability to benefit from the knowledge that they can own their flaws as well as their virtues is the key to our development as a whole.
For myself, the ability to embrace my diagnosis of bipolar 2 or face my previous traumas has been invaluable. The full effect of what I was able to accomplish as a Pagan as compared to being a Catholic or Evangelical Christian is almost indescribable. I developed a deeper relationship with the deities I work with and began generational healing practices. As a Pagan, there was no more “give your problems to God.” I had to own and tackle my issues or accept what I could not change as reality. There was no savior coming to pull me out of darkness, however, there was the knowledge that I could proactively change my life for the better. And there is great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my struggles due to the accepting environment that Paganism has afforded me.
So what does self acceptance look like to you? How do you practice self acceptance either as part of a group or alone? As always, I’d like to thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out here or on Facebook. If you’re interested in more related content, don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram. Blessed be, Shining Quill the Unicorn