One of the most gratifying things for me is being able to communicate with people on a deeper level. I find that a simple conversation can evoke true emotions. I’d like to say that meeting people where they are is my specialty. In fact, I quite enjoy the human mind, its quirks and its strengths. I’ve found in my walk in life that I can learn from every single person I come in contact with. Be it to draw from their strengths or to learn from their weaknesses. Nevertheless, it’s quite a pleasure to have candid interactions on an emotional level with others in addressing their concerns. On this particular day, I was met with this specific matter. The importance of acceptance. Let’s dive into it shall we?
I checked with this follower for clarification on what definition of acceptance she was referring to. In the context of our conversation I learned that she was trying to come to terms with circumstances and/or changes she didn’t necessarily want or planned for. Confronting one’s reality can be difficult when the existence once lived was what we’d worked hard to achieve. When you’ve put your all into something you felt so strongly about. Accepting that your current situation is a part of your life cycle and that it is exactly where you are meant to be, is a difficult pill to swallow. The words, “everything happens for a reason” though true, are simply not comforting. Lord knows I’ve been there.
Life in its purest form is complex. Filled with some rises and falls. Yet, we buckle up and ride it like a roller coaster. Some days we know exactly what’s coming around the bend because well, we made it so. We’re prepared for what’s in store because we designed our lives that way. Other days, we’re blindsided. Hit with the unexpected. And on more odd days, we have a little bit of both. Some events are minor in nature. Traffic, flat tire, locking your keys in your car and now you’re late to work. Yes, it’s frustrating, but you should be able to quickly recover from these minor infractions. Major life shifts can cause more disruption in our lives. Terrible events that change our trajectory lead to unpredictable emotions. Unprepared for these events we go into panic mode. Our initial response to this shift is fight or flight. We’ve officially been catapulted into trauma mode. Yes, trauma. It’s a word that holds a lot of impact. It’s important to know where you came from, so you know where you’re going.
Everyone responds to trauma differently. Therefore, the initial reactions to trauma vary. From exhaustion, to confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, and the act of completely removing ourselves. Disassociation is real. A wide array of emotions are felt with a traumatic shift in our lives. Sudden changes in life’s circumstances lead to trauma. The more helpless we feel the more emotionally and psychologically imbalanced we become. We thought we were safe because we thought we had everything under control; and we should’ve felt safe. When our worlds are turned upside down in a matter of seconds we find ourselves deep in grief. Wondering what happened, and how did we get here? There is no surprise that under these circumstances one would have a hard time “accepting” these events.
Throughout my life the biggest obstacle I’ve had to face has been accepting the reality of relationships. It was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that others weren’t (in my eyes) being considerate of my needs. I used to say things like, “I wouldn’t do them like that,” or “after all I’ve done for them?” I realized that I was trying to make others be who I was. And though in my mind that seemed pretty logical at the time, it was after one too many disappointments and with some spiritual growth that I realized that, not everyone is going to be who you want them to be. Not everyone is going to do for you as you would do for them. And guess what? That’s okay. The key is to learn, and move accordingly. In the words of Maya Angelou, “when people show you who they are, believe them.”
Part of the reason why we have a hard time admitting defeat is because we want to resist the changes in our lives. The biggest obstacle to acceptance is resistance. We’ve all been there. It’s one of our worse habits. The need to control. Speaking from the perspective of a reformed control freak here, this was a challenge to overcome. Eventually I realized that I was not in control of my circumstances. That no matter what I did, it wouldn’t change the outcome of where I was pre-destined to be. Then and only then did I actually start to release the resistance.
Picture this. You have a jumbo sized rubber band in your hands. You walk over to a free standing pole. You slip that rubber band onto that pole, holding on to it all the while. You start to back away with the rubber band in hand. As you take step by step in the opposite direction of where the pole stands, the rubber band is getting tighter and tighter around your fingers. The rubber band is hefty. It can withstand the tension. But your fingers? Not so much. You hold this position for a while. Determined to prove just how far you can take it. Until you start sensing discomfort. The tension around your fingers is bothersome. Now your fingers start changing colors. You’re losing blood flow and it’s becoming unbearable to hold. You slowly start walking towards the pole, finding that you still have control of that rubber band but now have some relief from the tension. When you ultimately decide to release the hold from the rubber band, you see the marks around your fingers from holding it tight. The blood flow slowly returns to the fingers, but the marks will stay awhile. This is what it’s like to resist change.
Our minds have a way of creating negative self-talk patterns that are destructive. In fact, this way of thinking is a form of self-sabotage. We envision our lives like a game of chess. Moving the pieces along the board as if trying to masterfully make that next best winning move. We think we’re strategizing. But we’re only doing ourselves harm. Setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves when we know we just aren’t built that way. God didn’t design us that way. He gave us the gift of discernment. He’ll send us sign, after sign, after sign. Red flags if you will. Letting us know that we’re nearing the point of no return. Yet, we push it. Ultimately, we succumb to the power of the flesh.
Positive mindset is critical to reducing resistance thus allowing room for growth and acceptance. We know it’s hard to undo bad habits, but it’s not impossible. The only thing standing in the way of change is ourselves. We can do anything we set our mind to. Don’t believe me? Write down a goal. Something you’d like to accomplish that would change the current state of your life. Then, write down the steps it would take for you to achieve that goal. Put your goals in a place you’d see it daily, like a vision board or on your bathroom mirror. Each day, give yourself a task to complete that would get you closer to that goal. Then evaluate where you are every thirty days. This alone would create a tremendous mental shift in your life.
In my opinion, Deepak Chopra is one of the most inspirational alternative medicine advocates. His works have shown us time and time again just how powerful our minds are. How we can achieve new dimensions of stress free living and enlightenment. In his book, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” he shares the natural laws that govern us and our ability to reach life’s true achievements. In Law #4 of this book he relays that it is important for us to go on “receiving with open arms what happens to us, because if we fight and resist it, we are generating turbulence in our minds.” Think about how true that is. Ever been in a car accident, doesn’t have to be anything major, a fender bender would do. Immediately upon assessing the damage your first thought is, what this is going to cost you; how much of an inconvenience this is to the current financial state of your life; how this is going to cause a ripple effect of issues in your daily life because this was certainly not something you were expecting.
But, have you ever for a second stopped and thought to yourself first, “Wow, this sucks but it could have been worse.” “I’m glad I’m safe.” “This could very well have been what saved me from a more horrific incident up ahead.” All thoughts that make you acknowledge where you currently are. Accepting what just happened as it’s happened and not resist the obvious. Because guess what? It has already happened! There’s nothing you can do to change that fact. You don’t have a time machine and therefore can’t possibly alter the current events of your life. Resisting the obvious will only cause you unrest. So what’s the point? Let it go, like Elsa.
I reference the Book of Joy often because I find it’s been fundamental in changing my thought process. In fact, it’s made me quite happy to have purchased and gifted this book to others in their journey. It blessed me, and so I’ve paid it forward. Chapter 4 of said book defines acceptance as “the opposite of resignation and defeat. Accepting life in all its imperfections, pain, and beauty. Turning our faces to the wind and accepting that this is a storm we must pass through.” The Dalai Lama expressed that “stress and anxiety comes from our expectations of how life should be. Furthermore, in pursuit of our goals, we mustn’t hold on to assumptions about how they should be achieved.” Read that again. No, seriously… I’ll wait. (Cue hold music)
This ladies and gentleman is a gem of wisdom. Let’s break it down.
- Acceptance is a positive action. Feeling like you have to resign to the unfortunate circumstances of your life or that you have been defeated is a negative thought. Flipping your thought process to the positive will shift your way of thinking and give you purpose.
- Life was never meant to be perfect, nor will it ever be. When you understand that there will be moments of pain and imperfections, just as much as there will be moments of beauty, you release unrealistic expectations that hold you back from living your best life.
- The liberating feeling of turning your face to the wind and rain in the storm is the official surrender to the life God has predestined for you. There is nothing you can do in this moment but wait it out. There’s a special connection to the sunshine after the rain that is uplifting.
- When you set such high expectations for your lives and establish the way you think your life should be, you’re putting yourself in the position of the “knower of all things” the God of your own life. We all know we don’t have that kind of power. As much as we like to think so, our path has already been set. Acknowledging this fact would reduce the stress and anxiety you create.
- Though creating goals for ourselves is a great thing, we must be open to the need to modify the way we intend to achieve them. Think of your goals as a road map. There may be obstacles in the way that cause you to have to reroute. You may need to obtain tools you didn’t have to get to where you intend to go. Be open to this shift. You may not have packed the proper tools to reach your destination. The roadblocks are often a deterrent to give you time to acquire those tools and lead you to the promise land.
We make the mistake of getting so attached to our imagined plan for our lives that we become more attached to the idea of the life we thought we were intended to live. Attachment is the root of our disappointment. Life’s unpredictability makes it challenging to accept that things are somehow turning out differently than we had originally planned. But we quickly learn that we are not in control of anything or anyone besides ourselves. The Book of Joy further reminds us that “it takes time to build spiritual capacity. You learn when something happens that tests you.” Change doesn’t happen overnight. Mastering the ability to maintain a positive attitude comes with practice. Such as in the way developing a peaceful state of mind takes practice in meditation. It’s all about shifting your mindset. This is the most powerful ability we have as humans. In a November 12, 2018 article written by Nicole Spector, she expresses that “our brains learn what works and what doesn’t early on. This is great on one hand, because it means we don’t have to keep relearning positive behaviors. But the downside is that the brain gets used to doing certain things in a certain way so that over time, introducing new behavioral modes becomes challenging.”
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a licensed clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist says, “Emotionally, cognitively, and executively the brain has established a lot of pathways. The more you do something the more ingrained it becomes in neural pathways, much like how a computer that stores the sites you visit — when you log onto your browser, they will pop up because you use them a lot. Change is an upheaval of many things and the brain has to work to fit it into an existing framework.”
Dear reader, this is the moment I encourage you to believe in your ability. You’re far more precious than you think you are. Far more resilient than you’ve ever known. Far more skilled than you ever thought you’d be. And certainly more blessed today than you were yesterday. Today is the day to mark a new change in your life. The very change that will cosmically shift every neuron in your brain. The shift that you needed to live a more peaceful and enlightened life. A reminder that you are God’s child and that you deserve all the good that is coming your way. Accept it.
As always, I hope this message has encouraged you. To live your life to the best of your ability. To shine brighter each day and be your best self. Yours truly. – Lin Green