At the beginning of each new year, we often think about the process of goal setting. We want to set lofty enough goals to be significantly challenged. But we don't want to set goals so high that we'll be perpetually frustrated. The best way to do this is to access the complementary concepts of acceptance and awareness. By this, we should consider ways in which we can simultaneously accept ourselves as we are, and yet also open ourselves up to an awareness of new possibilities within us.

Learning to Listen
Many people get answers to their inner questions, but they fail to recognize them. They want to see lightning and hear thunder; they want a grandiose demonstration that the spirits are speaking to them. But our inner self speaks to us in many different languages, some of them verbal, but many of them not.

For instance, we might find that our mind wanders unaccountably after we ask for guidance until before we know it, we're daydreaming. If we're like most people, we then get discouraged with ourselves and feel like we've failed in our meditation. But these incidents came to our minds during meditation for a very good reason - because our inner self wanted them to be healed. These things can't become resolved all by themselves. They need the light of our consciousness in order to be addressed and integrated as positive energy into our being.

The Six Stages of Acceptance
Once we've identified the areas in which we want to heal, there are a number of predictable phases we go to on the road to self-acceptance. The six stages of acceptance begin with non-awareness. When we're in this stage, we have no idea why we keep falling down on our face, and we often blame it on outside influences and causes. But then sooner or later, we start to perceive a pattern, and we realize that maybe we are indeed responsible for the things that befall us.

Stages two through five are disbelief, anger, depression and anxiety. There's usually no clear progression between them - we'll switch between disbelief and depression in the space of a few moments, feel angry for a while and then dwell in anxiety. Often they all occur simultaneously in a general despair that immobilizes us and makes it hard for us to consider positive action. But sooner or later, if we're dedicated to our goal of self-esteem and self-awareness, we will surface into the final stage: acceptance. And then we can face the world with a new, healed consciousness and make the best of circumstances as they really are.

Acceptance of Both Positive and Negative
True acceptance means viewing the hand you've been dealt by life, and then making the very most of it that you can. It means maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weakness. It means making wise choices -being accountable to ourselves for the outcome of those choices and also being patient with ourselves, understanding that the growth process is a gradual one.

This year open up the inner doors to your highest potential, starting with a loving acceptance of who you are. Embark on a journey of self-discovery, whatever that might mean to you, and follow through as we march toward the new millennium.

Author's Bio: 

Marti Eicholz, Ph.D. is founder of the Institute for Transformation in Kirkland, Washington. She is also a national speaker, radio personality and the author of five books. Her most recent title is Personal Relationships: The Art of Living Together. Learn more about the Institute for Transformation at