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Love & Acceptance from the Inside Out

What if there was a surefire way to feel love no matter what? What if you could feel it whenever you wanted to? What if the emptiness inside was filled up with confidence, love, wisdom and peace - even happiness? What if you were radically different from the people who try to find true love and acceptance from impossible sources like social media and people who barely (or don't) know you? What would that feel like?

What if you loved yourself for who you are today - the real you? And what if you expected others to love you that way, too? What if you practiced what SARK calls "radical self acceptance," the practice of loving yourself exactly as you are? What if instead of telling yourself that you have to earn love and acceptance or that you are unlovable, your internal voice told you how amazing you are and listed why everyone who matters will love the real you regardless of what your posts reflect?

In her new book, "American Girls," Nancy Jo Sales writes about social media's impact on female self-esteem and behavior. She finds that the relentless pursuit of acceptance that social media fuels and the instantaneous judgment that cripples emotional development are only part of the high price tag that social media use exacts. Regardless of demographics, women and girls across the United States who allow social media society to dictate their behavior suffer from anxiety, normalized extreme behavior, depression, casual sexuality and increased exhibitionism, unrealistic expectations from romantic relationships, decreased feelings of self-worth, and unhealthy relationships. And sometimes the behaviors and beliefs fueled by social media are really self-undermining notions of feminist empowerment.

Conditional approval, pain, rejection, self-loathing, anxiety and poor decision-making are the opposite of love. So, if you could trade in the faux love for true love would you?

SARK compares humans to succulent plants. A succulent plant collects water and retains it in its thick, fleshy leaves then gives itself nourishment from the inside. "In that way," she says, "succulence is powerful - and so are you." Similarly, when we fill our minds with loving thoughts then act in ways that reinforce the truth that we are lovable and loved, we collect nourishment on the inside that feeds our need for love and acceptance. This is power that results in a reduced need for love from outside ourselves. Choosing to fill ourselves with love reduces the pain, anxiety and desperate actions resulting from counterfeit and conditional love.

One of the best strategies for determining who you really are and where your true value lies is to make an "I Am" List. This list should reflect who you are at your core and what matters most to you. It will list your talents and unique characteristics. If you are not sure what they are, ask someone you trust and who sees you regularly such as a friend, family member, teacher, or co-worker. This list will reflect the things that comprise your capital and should be the basis of things you say to yourself. They should make you feel good and think the best of yourself. Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to actions. These statements are essentially your "water" that fills up and sustains you from the inside. They are the beginning of your power - your succulence.

What are the first 10 things on your "I Am" List?

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