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The Art of Self-Acceptance

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

Some of our men are natural leaders, others make teamwork look easy; some guys are at home with a fishing rod, others dominate the basketball court; some guys find their rhythm with a musical instrument, others love the rush of addressing a crowd.

We all tend to gravitate toward things we know will come easy, but there are magical gains to be made from pushing ourselves beyond comfort.

We spend a lot of time in, on or near the water throughout Florida’s wild backcountry. When the men of Voyage requested something a little different, we guided them towards an entirely new landscape.

One afternoon, the guys settled themselves all over our common room, and we broke out the art supplies and queued up an episode of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.

In his soothing, hypnotic voice, Bob guided our men through the creation of a dusky river scene. Some followed Bob’s instructions literally, others made their own interpretations, improvising with color, composition and perspective.

Each man’s page starting coming to life and there was lots of laughter as the men compared their paintings. But as the episode neared its end, some of those laughs gave way to grumbling frustration.

A few guys, seeing that their paintings didn’t look like Bob’s, felt discouraged and had to be urged on to finish their painting. They didn’t want to keep going because it didn’t come naturally—they lacked experience with painting, or didn’t understand color or how to use their brushes.

Ross’s 30 minute masterpieces aren’t a hard-and-fast blueprint for the singular way to make art, rather they lay out a landscape for creativity to meander, letting each artist interpret Ross’s guidance and making their own decisions about technique and color.

Bob Ross can teach us a lot us about self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance, self-worth, and self-esteem are all wrapped up with love, kindness and compassion for oneself. It’s much easier to accept someone else for their differences than to accept yourself for your own.

But that’s what an afternoon painting with Bob Ross was about. In accepting ourselves, we learn to celebrate our strengths while also appreciating our weaknesses; silencing our inner critic and instead leaning on our support system—and recognizing that we’re deserving of their support.

Our guys are bonded together through fellowship, each man sharing his experiences and insights, despite being on his own journey of recovery. Brothers support brothers with gentle ribbing or heartfelt encouragement, whether they’re painting along with Bob Ross, or carrying a 40lb weight with a single breath.

We’re watching each of these young men learn how to blaze a path through recovery based on their own circumstances and goals for life after treatment, while being a trustworthy and reliable ally to the man next to him.

Each man will struggle with some element of their recovery, and comparison is never helpful. There’s a degree of suffering a man can inflict on himself when he holds himself to someone else’s standard, or uses another man’s progress to measure his own. We teach our men that difference doesn’t define value, and that comparison is the thief of joy.

“There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”

One of Bob Ross’s most famous kernels of wisdom tells us so much about self-love, self-acceptance, and embracing life on life’s terms.

We all learn and grow when we push ourselves to try something new, or to improve on something we’re already good at. When we accept that we won’t be perfect, and indeed should not expect perfection, we open our minds to the possibility that making mistakes will help us discover some new part of ourselves.

At Voyage, we encourage our young men to pursue their passion and purpose, and there’s no single way to do that. We offer a wide range of experiential activities that challenge the men’s physicality, leadership, teamwork, creativity, perspective, attention to detail, and so much more. Some men find passion and purpose in land or water sports, some men in our local Twelve Step community, and some men find it in their artistic or academic pursuits.

By learning to look at how they spend their time through the lens of joy and personal fulfillment, our men begin to see their way through recovery. Every day, they’re learning that building a life free of drugs and alcohol begins with loving and accepting themselves.

Voyage Recovery helps young adult men and their families lay the foundation for lasting recovery from substance use disorders. We do this using a mix of comprehensive therapeutic approaches and innovative experiential activities. Call us to learn more (772) 245-8345.


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