"What shuts down the heart more than anything is not letting ourselves have our experience, but instead judging it, criticizing it, or trying to make it different from what it is. We often imagine there is something wrong with us if we feel angry, needy, dependent, lonely, confused, sad, or scared. We place conditions on ourselves and our experience. 'If I feel like this, there must be something wrong with me... I can only accept myself if my experience conforms to my standard of how I should be.' "
These words illustrate simply and clearly the truth that our own inner critics are often the most stubborn blocks to healing and wholeness. No matter our age, when we are being treated with judgement or criticism by ourselves or someone else, our hearts naturally know how to shut down in self-protection.
Cultivating an attitude of self-acceptance, then, is a step in the direction of re-opening a hurt and wounded heart, and thus healing and inhabiting a fuller life experience. It is a very powerful step that anyone can take, in any moment, in support of themselves and their healing and growth.
You can put this into practice for yourself by taking a few minutes in the morning or evening (or anytime during the day) to become quiet and still, and telling yourself something like this: "Today I will do my best to accept myself and my situation, even with my imperfections and struggles. And if I don't do as well as I'd like, then I will do my best to accept that and try again tomorrow, and not judge myself for it."
Give it a try for a few days, and see if you notice any impact on your heart or your inner experience.