How do we accept ourselves fully if we don’t accept our parents?

by Candice Wu, MA, CYT 500
As I prepare to share my thoughts here, I have the impulse to scrap this and pretend I never wrote it. I have the thought, will my ideas be accepted? Do we all have some part of ourselves that we fear sharing with others? How does our self-acceptance relate to the acceptance of others, like our parents?

When I ask others this question, I get a burst of nervous laughter or get a wide-eyed “seriously-are-you-really-asking-me?” look. What about this topic hits a nerve?

Connecting with our Roots​

​Our first way of knowing belonging was through our parents. We unconsciously knew exactly who we needed to be in order to be accepted by our families, and sometimes, this meant tucking away a part of ourselves that didn’t fit the mold. And yet the source of life, or the ongoing nature of life, is given to us through our parents. This creates tension.

Do we accept life as it is given to us? Do we accept our roots? If we don’t, what do we reject in ourselves? Are we enough?

If a tree is disconnected from its roots, it cannot live.

Belonging, acceptance in the community, and emotional safety relate to the energy of the first chakra (pron. CHUH-krah), which is located at the base of the pelvis. The energy of the chakras map out our entire physical body, giving physical expression to the beliefs we have about ourselves. The first chakra is the root chakra, the root of who we are. Like a tree, our roots give us a foundation for how we stand in life, which is related to our sense of safety, right to exist, and belonging in our families.


Let’s go back to the tension. Most of us can relate to that hip tightness, low back pain, or tension in the lower body. The body from the pelvis down is a physical or concrete expression of what we believe about ourselves in relation to our parents, culture, where we came from, our community: our roots.

I’m not asking you to believe this. But, I invite you to pay attention to your body.

The body doesn’t lie.

Become aware of what comes up in your body, mind, or heart when you think of accepting yourself just as you are. How does your body react when you picture your mother or father? Spend time witnessing your reactions without trying to change them. Picture in your mind what any tension in your lower body looks like. Become very present to it. Honor it… for any dis-ease may be rich with insight. When we give attention to our bodies, the awareness automatically moves us toward healing.

Coming to Acceptance

Well, my mom is just so critical. It is easy to go down that road. How might complaining about our parents be related to a rejection of ourselves? Our parents can be easy targets for the parts of ourselves that we don’t like. They are our mirrors.

We are humans with many dimensions of possibility. We have painful parts, messy and ugly parts. What would it be like to accept all of the many ways that life energy can express itself, especially when it comes in a difficult form- criticism, pain, intolerance, sadness, frustration, anger? How do we accept ourselves in totality?

If you said the words, I accept you, Mom, exactly as you are, what comes up inside of you? Does accepting your mother or father in full make some part of you diminish? Notice without judgment.

Back to the blog post…

It seems like the things in my life worth doing challenge me to the edge, where the courage that begs me to accept myself meets head-to-head with fear, the kind that can make me prefer invisibility. Talk about tension.

So, I will share this now and invite you to ask yourself, what parts of you or your parents seem unac ceptable? What would happen if you paid attention to these parts? Where is your tension?

Candice Wu​​ works with adults, adolescents, couples, and families. She believes in enlivening her clients’ strengths and awareness to empower them