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How to Love and Accept Yourself. Finding the Root of the Problem

This lesson is a part of an audio course How to Love and Accept Yourself by Linda Bjork

There is a process called root cause analysis, which is used to find effective solutions. One method is called the 5 Whys, and it is famous for finding a solution to a problem related to the Jefferson Memorial building in Washington DC. Years ago, the stone exterior of the Jefferson Memorial building was deteriorating. Because this building is of national importance, this was a big problem that needed to be addressed.

Repairing the stone or repainting were expensive, so park rangers turned to root cause analysis and started asking why. Why was the stone deteriorating? Well, high power sprayers were being used to clean the exterior every two weeks? Why are they using high power sprayers to clean the exterior every two weeks? Well, because of bird droppings. Okay, so maybe the solution is to keep the birds away somehow. They thought they found the solution, so they stopped asking why. They tried a few things to deter the birds like using nets, but the nets were unsightly, and they didn't work. The birds just found ways to get around the nets. So they began asking more questions. Why are there so many birds? Well, they come to eat the spiders. Why are there so many spiders? Well, they like to feed on insects at night. Why are there so many insects? They're attracted to light that shines on the memorial at night. Through digging and digging deeper, they discovered that the root cause was the light, so they made a plan to reduce the amount of time that the lights were on at night and it worked, the number of insects was reduced by 90%, there were less spiders, less bird droppings, less cleaning was required, and the deterioration of the building stopped progressing. They also had an additional benefit of spending less money on electricity. The idea of the 5 whys is to continue asking questions until you find the root cause of the problem.

One thing that I recommend in the process of learning to love and accept ourselves is to try to find the root cause of not loving and accepting yourself. If you're struggling with feelings that you're not good enough, it's helpful to understand why you feel that way. Where did it come from in the first place?

To understand why that would be important, Think of a tree that is producing fruit, but in this case, it's yucky fruit. The fruit is feelings that you're not good enough, or that you're stupid, or unlovable, or whatever. We can pick the fruit off and throw it away, but the tree will just grow more fruit. We can get rid of it, but it just comes back. But If we can get to the root of the problem, and kill it at the source, then it won't keep producing that yucky fruit.

The fruit can be misleading. We think we're addressing one problem, when there's really something very different at the source. Notice from the story about the Jefferson Memorial that the root (which was bugs being attracted to light) didn't look much like the problem, which in this case was deteriorating stones.

Likewise, when we're working on building self-love and self-esteem. The things that we think are the problem aren't really the problem. We might think, oh it's because I'm not smart enough, or not attractive enough, or not rich enough, or something like that, but that's really not what's going on. Cognitive-behavioral scientists say that when we dig deep enough, it nearly always goes back to one question: Am I loveable?

In the next lesson, we'll look at why a person might not believe they're loveable and how to find the source.

In closing, I'd like to share a quote from Melanie Jade, "You are enough, just as you are. Each emotion you feel, everything in your life, everything you do or do not do… where you are and who you are right now is enough. It is perfect. You are perfect enough."

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Written by

Linda Bjork