I have my back!
The capacity to back yourself unconditionally is the acme of self-esteem, says Suma Varughese
In my last column, I talked about the moment when I decided, I did not have to be a paragon; it was enough to be who I was. And how this made all the difference in my capacity to embrace resistances.
Today, I would like to explore this space of accepting yourself as you are. As someone who has felt as starved for self-esteem as a socialite for company during Covid, I would say this capacity seems to me to be the acme of self-esteem. Self-esteem does not mean you have to be perfect. In fact, perfection is a mythical term, and those in pursuit of it may as well chase a pink elephant. Self-esteem means to be okay with not being okay. To embrace your imperfection capaciously without feeling inadequate.
Self-esteem means that you are whole, perfect, and complete, just exactly as you are. Babies and toddlers are far from perfect. They can be thoroughly cranky, throw dreadful tantrums, and cling to their belongings or that of others like Fevicol. Yet, have you noticed how perfectly comfortable they are within themselves? And how powerful that makes them? Their gurgles and giggles, their innocent and magnificent capacity to befriend you on sight, their ability to smile even when running a fever, are all indications of how comfortable they are being themselves.
It all emerges from your capacity to back yourself unconditionally. This means you are for you. No matter what, no matter when. No questions asked. Backing yourself means being on your side even when you are harbouring jealous thoughts of your friend who seems to get more likes and comments for her Facebook posts than you do. It means accepting even the part of you that wants to goof off and read an Agatha Christie when this column cries out to be written. It means accepting, embracing, and allowing every single thought, feeling, and physical sensation. It means walking past a showroom window, seeing your paunch outlined in sharp relief, and accepting both the resistance to it and the instinctive need to pull in your stomach. It means allowing your hunched back to be and not fighting the instinct to straighten up.
It means never allowing other people’s opinions or expectations of you to enslave you. It means the ability to shrug off the burden of public opinion and reclaim your freedom.
The beauty of this capacity to embrace what we believe to be unacceptable—such as judging someone, putting them down in our minds, drinking more than is good for us, or greedily finishing up a giant bar of chocolate on our own—is that it frees us from conditioning. As someone who has been looped into overeating and other aspects of addictive behaviour, I can testify that the reason for it is not weakness as those who know nothing about it often maintain, but rather, your tendency to beat yourself up, not forgiving yourself, distrusting yourself, and fearing the object of your desire.
Embracing your wrong actions cuts through this loop completely. You simply move on untainted and unmarked, thinking no worse about yourself than you had yesterday. Backing yourself gives you permission to dissolve all the labels that you have imposed on yourself and helps you return to your whole, perfect, and complete nature. It means you are spacious enough to accept every aspect and part of you for the rest of your life.
So that’s my task for the moment. Backing myself unconditionally every moment of the day.
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at email@example.com.
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