In the past several years new buzz words and phrases have cascaded into our lexicon to incite us to be kind to ourselves through self compassion, to have self awareness, and to live in the moment. As well-intentioned as these terms are, how many of us have taken the time to absorb and apply them to ourselves and our lives?

Wisdom and guidance conveyed through popularized expressions are only meaningful on a personal level when we fully understand their intrinsic meaning and, of even greater import, know how to apply them to our lives. As many books as I have read that promote these concepts as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually uplifting and pivotal to inner happiness, life finds a way of intruding on one’s intention to seek inner calm and equanimity.

What I have learned — and lived — is that the path to self acceptance is the greatest path you will ever travel and the most brilliant gift you can ever give yourself. From one who has spent the majority of her life seeking fulfillment through external sources, whether they were relationships, family, love affairs, jobs, travel, wealth, or exercise, nothing external was enough to permit me to feel comfortable with myself and fulfilled in my life.

The revelatory moment came unexpectedly when I lost my beloved father and soulmate. I had never known that level of pain and heartbreak. It felt as though I had fallen through a narrow, never-ending ravine with jagged rocks puncturing my skin and tearing my heart and organs into tiny shards of irreparable matter. For two years, I suffered alone. Yes, I had people in my life who tried to comfort me, but as you may know, the grief one experiences when they lose someone they love so deeply is a lonely journey. You don’t know how you will get through it, yet somehow, with the passage of time and the flow of millions of tears, the fierceness of the sorrow starts to diminish.

When I was able to find a way out of that dark and painful ravine, my brain started to fire again, and although my heart was still lagging, I felt a sense of clarity. One of the thoughts I wrestled with was how would I ever feel “happy” again, no, it was more akin to would I ever feel normal again? At some point during my post-severe mourning and into my more-manageable mourning, a revelatory thought arose: Was I still grieving my father or was I grieving the fact that no one would ever love me that much again?

I soon understood that a large component of my sadness was the unconditional love, affection, and support my father poured into me. I soon realized that I was missing his steadfast, unceasing approval and praise — he was my biggest fan and I was his. To shorten a very long story, I started researching how to heal myself — not just from losing someone I cherished—but to examine why I needed someone to tell and show me I was good and successful. Why didn’t I believe this about myself without having to hear it from someone else?

My book, Your Life Matters, is a tribute to my personal quest to build self worth and more importantly, a guide for others who have suffered with a sense of inadequacy to center themselves in self acceptance and self love. My mission was to learn how to have the courage and power to look inwardly for strength and stability, rather than depend on others to make me feel my life was meaningful. I finally grasped what it meant to love yourself unconditionally, accept yourself no matter what, and trust that you will be fine in any situation. I taught myself that I was a good and kind person, and, that I would indeed be able to live the rest of my life without my father’s praise and admiration to hold me steady and upright.

The path to self acceptance is not the path of least resistance, the road that is already smoothly paved for you to follow, however, it is the most important path you will travel during your life. You will learn to live fully and with authentic joy that is not predicated on outward success, rather on inner strength and resilience that is based on the knowledge that you are wonderful and lovable just as you are.

Please send me your thoughts on this and any other blogs.

Love to all of you,