There is this mantra these days about loving yourself no matter what and accepting yourself exactly as you are. I admit that I invoke it daily in working with people.

I get where it comes from, and I get the usefulness of what Carl Rogers called the paradox of being able to change once we accept ourselves exactly as we are.

It’s pretty basic: until we acknowledge and accept where we are, we can’t even consider going somewhere else.

But this is where I often see it breakdown as well; the whole going-somewhere-else part of the process is left off. The changing-after-accepting-yourself aspect gets ignored, and we wind up accepting and loving things in ourselves that we shouldn’t.

The very simple fact is that there are some things we should not accept in ourselves.

We should not tolerate things that are harming us or the people we care about. We should hunt them down and remove them from our lives.

I have these things in every part of my life. So do you. We all do. And we all deserve better.

There are physical things that we should not accept. There are habits associated with eating and drinking and otherwise ingesting things that will lead to a very restricted life and a very early death.

We should not accept these things in our life.

There are ways of treating others and speaking to them and acting toward them that will lead us to broken relationships, and will lead other people to broken hearts and damaged ideas of who they are.

We should not accept these things in ourselves.

There are ways of engaging the world that lead us to bitterness and resentment and self-pity. This drives us away from ourselves and drives others away from us.

We should not accept these things in ourselves.

This isn’t to say that we should berate and criticize and hate ourselves. There is no good in this.

Acknowledge and accept where you are, but don’t let yourself stay there either.

If we are not moving forward, we are sliding backward.

If we are not evolving, we are dying.

We live in a society that will provide us with ready-made excuses to stay exactly where we are. People will be quick to jump up and tell you that you’re fine, not to worry, everyone has their flaws.

This is true, everyone does, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on them. Especially if they are harming ourselves or others. Especially if they are driving us to an early death or a lonely existence.

We all know change is possible, and we all know it is necessary. But it is also very difficult.

And this is what makes the siren call of the well-intentioned friend so dangerous. They are calling us back to a very comfortable mediocrity. A fuzzy happiness that feels like home, but that might very well be strangling us mentally, physically and emotionally.

Love yourself exactly as you are, but love yourself enough to change the things that are keeping you from your true potential as well.

You deserve it.