Acceptance. Such a nice thought, isn’t it? To just be able to sit back and accept what is - not live in the past of what “was” or in the future of what “might someday be”, but to take the exact moment in time we are in and just be okay with what is. The power in finding our place of acceptance is the ability to gain perspective on what we do and do not have control over.
Many of us struggle to accept that which is beyond our control - other people’s decisions and personalities, unforeseen circumstances, past failures, regrets and the scary unknown. This leads to anxiety, resentment, hopelessness, frustration and a search for something to control because our world feels uncontrollable.
You may have heard the saying, “that which we resists, persists.” Image sitting in a chair (with a high back) and putting both of your hands straight out in front of you. Imagine someone standing in front of you, locking hands (palm to palm) with you and straightening their arms too. As you sit in your chair and they stand in front of you, you both resist by straightening your arms - but the person who is standing can lean into you. Suddenly you feel yourself tipping back in the chair. Your heart starts to race as you realize this person has ALL the control. They can decide if you tumble over backwards or if they take a step back and allow you to gently sit your chair back on the ground. Now imaging this same scenario - the person stands in front of you, locks arms and as they start to take a step and push towards you, you allow your arms to go limp. Now, this person finds themselves stumbling forward. Now you are in control.
The same is true with anything we resist in our lives. I see this often with my clients who have spent years trying to fix their weight. They hate their body. They are disappointed and frustrated that they have allowed themselves to get to the point they are at. They complain that they don’t have enough time. They feel a sense of pressure and stress most moments throughout the day. And typically they have a person or people whom they feel make it really difficult for them to get any traction to make real, lasting changes. This is the very epitome of resisting “what is”.
From this perspective, it feels like an uphill battle. It feels like everything is against the progress you want to make. There is no joy in this place. Gratitude is hard to muster. This perspective lends itself to comparison and envy. We begin to look at other people around us, on Facebook, at church, at the gym and grocery store and tell ourselves false narratives about their reality and journey. We may go into our past and compare ourselves to our former selves. This heaps on the feelings being inadequate, out-of-control and hopeless.
So then we begin to feel that we just need to “try harder”. This is the spirit of strife that we partner with. We create a to-do list, we join a gym, we hire a coach, we clean out our pantry and refrigerator and we start striving to make our situation better. There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things and if you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle - these are all part of the puzzle. BUT if you don’t first acknowledge and accept WHERE YOU ARE AT - you will struggle with creating habits from these short-lived behavior modifications.
You can’t fix what you can’t accept. You will either undermine it and tell yourself, “it’s not a big deal” (deny it), or you will go victim and blame things outside of yourself for why you are where you are at. If you are in denial - you won’t be consistent with your changes and you will be easily swayed when it comes to holding your ground - because it’s not “that” big of a deal. If you are a victim - you will use other people and situations as scapegoats. Both of these approaches will end up in defeat because you are not being completely honest and you are not taking responsibility.
Acceptance is a form of surrender. We cannot deny what is our reality. It doesn’t mean that you “like” or “love” what is - but you come to a place where you can respect, honor and release all anxiety around the situation. Acceptance is the honest evaluation of where you are at and a willingness to tolerate that which you cannot control for this particular season of life and step up and take personal responsibility for what you can control.
A map does not work unless you know where you are at. If someone asks you for directions somewhere, you cannot possibly give them any help until you know EXACTLY where they are at. This is what acceptance represents - knowing EXACTLY where we are at and taking it as a fact - without attaching meaning to it about who we are or what we are capable of doing.
Reflection Question: What is the truth about where you are currently at in a relationships, your health journey, finances, spiritually, etc.?
I believe it is very important in the process of acceptance to take personal responsibility for our contribution to our current reality. This takes your power back. If you take responsibility for why you are where you are currently at, then you have power to go where you want to go. It is said that the unexamined life is not worth living. When we can get to a place where we can evaluate our life from non-judgemental self-awareness, healing and hope is possible.
Reflection Question: What have you done to contribute to your current situation?
We have so much more control than we are told. Not necessarily on what other people do or unforeseen tragedy - but on how we react to situations and circumstances that come our way and what truth we partner with.
Here is a simple example. We may not be able to control the donuts that arrive every Friday at our workplace - but we can accept this fact and instead focus on mentally and physically preparing ourselves for Friday by eating a healthy breakfast. And you know what else? We actually control whether or not we walk over engage with the donuts, pick up a donut with OUR hand, put the donut in OUR mouth and chew and swallow. Seriously. No one forced the donut into our belly. We had to make a ton of tiny decisions to make that happen. If we allow our mind to tell us, “I can’t control myself” - then we will be defeated and blame the person who brought the donuts and our lack of willpower instead of walking in the power of the control we do have over our own mind.
Another example. We may not be able to change our husband’s preference for meat and potatoes every night and his lack of enthusiasm and support to eat healthy. But we can accept his position and stop using it as an excuse for our unhealthy eating. Meat and potatoes can be served with a salad and steamed vegetables. A sweet potato can be made right alongside a white potato. Do you blame or do you accept and take power over what you can control?
Acceptance opens up the space for power. It opens up the space for gratitude. Seeing your life for exactly how it is and choosing to focus on what is amazing about it - is food for the soul. Every season is a new opportunity for us to grow more into who we have been called to be. Not every season is going to be your favorite. I guarantee that the most difficult seasons of our lives are the ones where we reap the most gifts and blessings - if we choose to. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.
The last piece about acceptance is spiritual. So many people miss this part and without it there is no foundation to stand. At the core of my personal belief system is the knowingness that God has not left me. That where I am at currently is not by accident. God is not shocked about where I am at and He will not leave me here to suffer and perish. He may allow me to remain in my struggle until I learn the lessons and gain the gifts that I need in order to be elevated to my next level. I know that God doesn’t give me blessings before I can handle them. If I get what I desire before I am equipped to handle it - He knows that it will destroy me. And God is for me, not against me so He isn’t going to let that happen. I believe God is working in my circumstances, behind the scenes, and He is my partner. What I cannot do myself - He takes care of it. He is working all things out for my good and for a greater purpose beyond myself.
Reflection Questions: What do you believe?
Take a moment and reflect on what you need to accept in your life. Where do you need to lay down the denial and blame and just settle in to what is? What is your responsibility for where you are at? Where can you stop torturing yourself about your past and instead focus on the lessons from your past that you can take with you to bless your future? Where do you want to go?
Once you know where you are at and where you want to go - the next step is not just the process, but who you need to become along the way. I look foward to supporting you more in this ongoing journey of growth to discover the abundance and wholeness available to us. If you have not yet scheduled a free coaching session with me - perhaps this is the time? CLICK HERE to schedule.