The power of acceptance
We can’t change what we cannot ACCEPT. And that includes ACCEPTING what we can & can’t control.
I was talking with someone the other day about my transformation journey and five-year anniversary and she fixated on one question: “Aren’t you mad that you have to work so hard to stay healthy and fit and that you’ll struggle with this for the rest of your life?” (No!)
In another conversation recently, a close friend was having a terrible time accepting the reality of depression and was spiraling deeper because of his refusal to accept it. It made me sad.
In a much more trivial moment, I was personally challenged to accept the answer I got from American Honda about a serious defect in my Honda CRV that might cause the engine to blow up and their process for dealing with it. (Don’t even get me started on this one!)
How many of you have had difficulty accepting a misfortune — something you don’t really like or want in your life? Yep, I’m guessing pretty much everyone.
Accepting a reality that we don’t want/like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life. That reality can be something trivial like my not accepting Honda’s resolution of my car issue, to big stuff that is much, much harder — like navigating a deafening depression or recovering from a massive stroke. Ask anyone who’s in recovery from addiction or who has suffered a serious illness, loss, setback or tragedy in their lives and they’ll tell you it’s beyond hard to accept.
Many of us fight the realities we don’t like in an attempt to change situations, events — even people — that we simply can’t change or control. Like me, for example, arguing to the point of losing my temper with the Honda dealership. It was not their policy and I was not going to change it no matter what I said or did – yet I persisted way longer than felt reasonable.
Acceptance is and can be hard. But it’s also a key to recovery, peace, and creating lasting change in our lives. I think it is a key to living healthy, happy and WHOLE — and how I’ve maintained that lifestyle now for five years. Accepting our realities and admitting we are powerless over so many things can actually be empowering. It’s adopting a healthy attitude that often can be a first step in leading to greater happiness and fulfillment — even if we absolutely hate the hand we’re dealt.
How? On the other side of acceptance is the power to change and make the very best of ourselves — despite our misfortunes or realities. Alcoholics Anonymous asserts this in their 12 steps. Recovering addicts will tell you that admitting powerlessness over alcohol, drugs, food (insert addiction) is often the most critical step to recovery. And for many, the absolute hardest.
Many of us are wired (or so we think) to be classic over-achievers. To do and fix and control. (Yep, me included.) Far too many of us base our self worth on the success or achievements we’ve obtained, rather than our own deep sense of self-love and acceptance. We become obsessed (like I did) with giving at the expense of ourselves…with doing and achieving…with working harder than anyone else…and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that the harder we try to achieve and control and be perfect, the unhappier (and unhealthier) we become.
Acceptance for me is freeing, empowering and peace-giving. I believe that even if we don’t like the reality of the things we can’t control, it is powerful and empowering to accept it. What do I mean?
I believe (and have experienced) that on the other side of acceptance is:
- less fear, worry and stress
- far less energy drain from fighting things totally out of our control
- a more positive outlook
- the ability to embrace change in our lives
- the ability to achieve our personal best, our greatest potential
- peace of mind
- wholehearted living…
And I’m sure there is much more! On the other hand, fear and refusal to accept that which we can’t control, keeps us stuck and stalled and — dare I say — a victim of those circumstances.
Today, I am pondering this lesson in my evolving journey. It seems that true acceptance of our misfortunes or reality is a tough but important step to creating real life change and living as our best selves. The key is learning to accept what we CAN control (usually our own thoughts, behaviors and action) and what we CAN’T control (certain situations, events, and other people).
Trust me, I am all for action to create positive change in our lives. It worked for me! But it only worked once I became keenly AWARE of what I was practicing in my life that was not working for me, and then ACCEPTED the reality that I was addicted to food, compulsively giving and working at the expense of my own self-care as a coping mechanism. I also had to accept the reality that if I didn’t personally do something about my lifestyle behaviors and my health, I would likely live unhappy, unhealthy and unfulfilled forever and/or experience an early death.
Then, I had to accept what I could actually control (ME). And what I could NOT control (everything else!). I had to accept that I would likely never be a “normal” eater who could relax and not pay extra close attention to my relationship with food and life. It was my acceptance of both — what I could do something about and my powerlessness over the rest — that has kept me on track and living healthy and happy for five years now.
It is true that I have to work harder at this than many/most people and I likely always will. It’s true that I can’t eat in the ways I want, as much as I might want, the foods I might want, and I may never be able to totally relax about that. I likely will have to work harder to stay fit and healthy, given my metabolism. Okay. So be it. I’m in. It’s my reality and I accept it. And it sure as heck beats the alternative. This is what allows me to “be” healthy and happy — even when I screw up.
A lot of people in my life are currently struggling with acceptance of some pretty harsh realities. I hate that, and I hate to see them in pain and struggle. But, I know one thing for sure. As long as we fight those realities that we cannot control — or worse, give up all together — we not only become stuck and stalled, but often our worst worries and fears manifest. Whereas accepting what is — even when we really, really hate it — can be freeing and provide a path to real change. A different life than we imagined perhaps, but a better one that being in turmoil.
Today’s Note from the Universe on my email read:
“You probably won’t believe this, Lori, but I’m as powerless as you when it comes to living other people’s lives. On the other hand, you are as powerful as I am when it comes to living your own life. You decide what’s meant to be. You can have anything you want and everything is possible… Don’t give away this power waiting to see what happens to the rest of the wold when you can decide what will happen in yours.
In awe of you, The Universe.”
Have a wonderful, in-your-equation day. Happy to be back in action.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you to my loyal blog readers for your patience these past six weeks as I’ve taken a short blogging hiatus. I’ve been blogging weekly for 6.5 years, and I always said I would write only when I had something to say/process that might be helpful to me and others. My personal transformation journey continues and always will. I recently determined that to keep Lori-in-the-equation and for my own best self-care, I needed to take some time to process my five-year anniversary and “live into” what next. (I’m still “living into” what next and I promise, I’ll keep you posted.)
So rather than forcing blogs that didn’t serve me or you, I took a break. I think I’m back now, but only when I feel I have something to offer. If you have areas where you are personally stuck or stalled and would like help, please shoot me a message by connecting here. And if you’ve found this or any of my five-year anniversary blogs useful, I would love to hear from you. Thank you for being here and best of luck in your journey to YOU in the equation!