I bet you can list a million and one things about your life that you wish were different. Like many people you may wish that you had more money, or that you were in a meaningful relationship, or that you had a better job. You might even be wishing for a complete life overhaul because the state of things is so far away from where you imagine they should be.
A constant feeling of dissatisfaction develops when we are always focused on how we want things to be different. And sometimes this dissatisfaction grows into pain, anguish, anxiety, depression, and constant anger that we can’t ever seem to shake. Wallowing in dissatisfaction robs us of so much of our life energy. In other words, we spend so much time focused on what we think is wrong and lacking, that we can’t appreciate or even see clearly the things that are present and right. And sometimes concentrating on dissatisfaction can make problems and challenges seem bigger than what they are.
Learning to practice acceptance can drastically improve our outlook on our current state of affairs. And not just any old acceptance, but TOTAL ACCEPTANCE.
When my mom passed away last year, it was hard to wrap my mind around it. And so many thoughts raced through my mind including, “How could my mom pass away so young? This is not fair! Why did this have to happen my mom?” Aside from being hurt and sad, a part of me was also angry and ruminated in those feelings for awhile. Part of my grieving process was coming to accept what was. I realized that no amount of anger and suffering was going to change the fact that my mom had passed away earlier than I would have liked. I had to accept it.
Total acceptance means that you accept your life and yourself as it is in this very moment. All of it. Even the parts you have the power to change because IT IS WHAT IT IS. Total acceptance means honestly accepting your life without judging, without the negative self-talk, and without the harmful criticism. When we accept the present state of things and don’t judge it based on what we think “should” be, we can let go of the painful emotions associated with the judgement.
For instance, someone may regret choices they made with money in the past and become angry with themselves because they feel they should currently have more. They may constantly beat themselves up by saying, “I am in my 30s and I should have more money by now. I made a lot of stupid choices with my money.” But a total acceptance mindset would allow us to see things differently. Instead we might say, “I’m in my 30s and I have learned a lot about wealth and money through trial and error. I am hopeful that these experiences and knowledge will help direct my future behavior with money.” Total acceptance helps us to see things objectively, not catastrophize things, and gives us the room to behave differently in the future.
Now keep in mind that I am not saying that having goals is not helpful. In fact, sometimes dissatisfaction is useful because it urges us to act and move toward our goals. And I am also not ignoring that fact that changing certain behaviors and circumstances might in fact improve our lives greatly. But what I am saying is that beating yourself up in the mean time and ignoring things that do in fact bring comfort and satisfaction, won’t bring about those changes any quicker and most times such behavior even serves as an obstacle to reaching goals.
The important thing to remember is that regardless of what does or does not happen in the future, this moment is your life. And your life is finite. This moment is real and it is your reality. And even if you are able to change things, this moment will always be part of your story. You have to accept the reality of your current moment before you can make realistic and lasting changes in the future. Don’t spend your life energy wishing for a different life. You are much too fabulous for that! Instead, learn to accept what is and develop a healthy relationship with the present moment.
3 ways to practice total acceptance:
1. Remember that your current life is a result of a number of things both within and out of your control.
You did not wake up this morning suddenly in you current circumstances. Your present moment is a result of a long list of factors that occurred over a long period of time. Some of those things were in your control and some of those things were not. For example, you did not choose your family of origin or the circumstances of your birth. You did not choose where you were born. You did not choose your genetic make up. And these things matter a great deal. We have to accept the things that we did not choose. It is what it is. And no amount of dissatisfaction and anger will change these things. Totally accepting these things is freeing and allows us to use our energy to focus on other things.
2. Don’t be so hard on yourself
Understand that at any given moment, we make the best decisions that we know how. Sometimes, we figure out later that those decisions could have been better, but in the moment we do the best we know how. And remember that though everybody makes mistakes and experiences regret to some degree, don’t allow your mistakes to make you forget all the great decisions you’ve made and continue to make. Remember all the things you don’t give yourself credit for. You are not only your mistakes and the bad things that have happened. You are so much more.
3. Practice seeing without judging
We have a habit of judging everything. We even judge the weather. But often, it is the judgement of things that causes pain, not the actual thing. This week, try to simply observe and accept what is without the judgment. Notice what a difference it makes in your mood and outlook.
Til next time…