I have long known that my life is a spiritual quest. The journey or quest has been about seeking, within it there has been one word that shows up more than almost any other.
This word is acceptance.
In my late teens, upon entering the world of recovery I felt as if I was being bombarded by this concept of acceptance. It was overwhelming. The idea of Acceptance was also frustrating, confusing and mind-blowing.
Initially hearing that acceptance was a key to freedom, I simply did not understand. I had been spending so much time and energy trying to change the circumstances I was up against. I did not want to accept what I was experiencing. The idea of accepting what was happening to me, and those around me, was appalling. If I let go of the struggle of fighting and accepted the turmoil in my life, wouldn’t I be giving up? Would the chaos become even greater and swallow me whole?
I feared it would.
Actually, I was terrified.
There was a tone of relaxation in the concept of acceptance that was hard for me to understand. Relaxing into the nightmare I was living seemed impossible, and even more than that, dangerous and stupid.
This spiritual principle of acceptance, while intriguing, was baffling to me. I watched and listened to those who were seemingly content, living peacefully amidst the highs and lows of everyday life. Learning more about how acceptance was being practiced in other people’s lives showed me something enormously important. It was something I had been missing and has become so valuable to me that I couldn’t begin to put a price tag on it.
My life changed when I understood that acceptance is not dependent on approval.
I can accept something that I do not like.
Spiritual literature spanning across time, through many traditions, points to acceptance as the answer to all perceived problems. In accepting what is, room is created for solution to enter in.
These are truths:
[Sigh of relief]
Learning how to separate my wants and desires from life circumstances sets me free.
Plants need water to thrive. Pretty simple, right? I accept this. Sometimes I don’t like to water the plants in my garden. I might be that I am tired, the hose is broken, or the water bill is getting too high. Does that change the fact that the plants need water? I don’t think so. And still, my plants need water if they are going to grow. That is a truth.
Acceptance might be simple and yet, in my own life, requires consistent practice. Learning how to accept what is happening to me, in me and around me has come through practice.
Taking myself out of the equation makes acceptance much easier. Dare I say acceptance has even become enjoyable and empowering?! Yes. Most of the time, I am called to accept things that have nothing to do with me. From the moment I can say “okay, I accept this” or “it is what it is,” the options in front of me become more clear. Seeing the facts and simply accepting the piled high dishes in the kitchen sink frees me. Either I can wash them now, wash them after dinner, ask for help, save them for later or do them with others.
What is one thing that has you preoccupied today?
What is one thing that you don’t like or wish were different?
Maybe you have a headache or your friend is going through a tough time and won’t return your call. Perhaps the brimming kitchen sink is calling to you, too?
Identify just one thing.
Now, ask yourself if you’ve been resisting this or accepting what is.
If you pause or get a twinge as you ask this question, there’s probably some resistance going on.
Remember, with awareness comes choice and power.
What might happen if you accepted this thing just as it is right now?
How might you feel differently in your body and mind by seeing the facts, removing value judgments and simply accepting?
What will become available to you by choosing to accept this?
Are the walls coming down? Do you notice some more space where before there was only restriction? What about your body: shoulders a little looser, face more relaxed?
Begin to notice what acceptance feels like and try it on for a while. I believe in small steps, knowing that more space and freedom of movement will closely follow.
In the flow,
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas