I was out hiking with a friend who was going through a tough time, and as she was getting things off her chest I couldn’t help but notice how harsh she was being with herself. “If only I would do this, “If I could just do that,” “I don’t know why I can’t just do x, y and z already!”

As we talked about this self-judgement her fears surfaced, and they were fears that I could very much relate to: If I stop pushing myself, all of my vices will crawl out of the closets and overtake me. I have to be vigilant.

I had a strong sense that accepting those parts that she was most afraid was the key to my friend’s (and my own) healing, but I couldn’t fully articulate how that process might work. The fear that acceptance of our vices would lead to defeat by those vices was still too strong, so I decided to meditate and ask my Guides for clarity.

When in doubt, get the meditation cushion out! 😉

My Guides explained it like this. Imagine that you are a round dinner plate (stay with me; this will all make sense, I promise). By your very nature, you are already whole and complete; there’s nothing missing from you, there’s nothing broken.

Many of us, though, only accept a part of ourselves. So imagine, now, that there’s a sandwich sitting on part of the plate. The sandwich represents what you’re willing to accept about yourself: the “good” parts; the parts that ensure people keep liking you, that you keep liking you. The problem is that you now only see one part of yourself–the sandwich–and you forget that you’re the whole dinner plate.

Somewhere, deep down, you remember that feeling of wholeness, though, and you want to get it back. You sense that there’s something missing, so you go about getting fancier bread for your sandwich and better toppings, but you still can’t shake that sense that you’re not enough.

Where we get stuck is thinking that this sense that we’re not enough is an indication that we really aren’t enough, when it’s simply a sign that we’ve forgotten that we’re enough. The dinner plate’s still there; we’re just not seeing it because we’re busy trying to perfect our sandwich.

Imagine, now, that you are willing to accept those parts of yourself that aren’t so easy to be around: your judgement of self and others; those times when you’re not feeling compassionate and you’re feeling downright spiteful (we all have them); and any other part of you that you think might elicit shame, blame, or judgement.

With each of these qualities you see and accept, you are widening your vision of who you are. You’re no longer just the sandwich, you’re the sandwich and a little bit of the plate over here…and over here…and a little more over here. Before you know it, those shadow aspects you’ve been spending so much energy trying to disown are the very means through which you are able to see the whole dinner plate: your innate wholeness.

We have to trust that we won’t devolve into awful people when we start to accept ourselves.

We have to trust that, at our very core, we are acceptable. We are worthy.

We have to trust that the parts of ourselves we have rejected are integral to our return to wholeness; they’re not trash to be thrown away.

We have to trust ourselves.

And the paradox? Those things we have been trying for years to change, to get rid of, the moment we begin to accept them is the moment they begin to change of their own accord.

In our fear, we locked them up in cages and then wondered why they never got better. Would you flourish in a cage?

Let them out.

Welcome them home.

And come home to yourself.