“I suck at piano and I know I should give myself more love and acceptance. But, I don’t know how.”

Usually, these problems can be sorted out by getting clear on what exactly you’re trying to do and why you’re trying to do it. So, let’s unpack this a bit.

I’m going to define three words: “love”, “acceptance”, and “compassion”:

  • Love is when you encourage something you want more of. Like watering a plant.
  • Acceptance is when you stop fighting something you don’t like.
  • Compassion is when you recognize suffering and wish it were gone.

You can love (encourage) the parts of you that are responsible for sucking at the piano. For example, suppose you suck at piano because you just started playing last week (because you enjoy picking up new skills every week). You can have fun playing the piano for a week and then love yourself by letting yourself pick up a new skill next week.

(Why would you love yourself for sucking at piano??? Don’t you want to be good at piano?)

You can accept the fact that you suck at piano. This doesn’t mean you’re happy about it and it doesn’t mean you can’t try to get better. It just means you stop expecting yourself to be better than you are. And, it’s done concretely: if you accept how much you suck, you won’t hide from it. So, for example, you’ll let yourself perform on the piano, even if you suck.

Also, you can accept the thought “I will always suck at piano” without accepting the reality of it. Thoughts aren’t reality. They’re just images and sounds.

You can have compassion for your suffering. Meaning, you wish you suffered less than you do. This is recognition of the suffering. (Most people don’t go that far. They just wish they were better at piano without recognizing the suffering.)

In conclusion, love, acceptance, and compassion are three different skills and you should practice them independently.

Whatever you do, make sure it’s practical, not philosophical.

—Michael

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