The past five months been some of the most testing physical challenges to occur in my life thus far. But more than that, they’ve been some of the biggest psychological tests, too. And whilst I’ve had many concerns about my full recovery and setbacks over this period, it turns out that my best friend and ally has been the act (and somewhat, the art) of learning to accept.
George Orwell once said
Happiness can only exist in acceptance”.
And the psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden said
The first step toward change is awareness. The second is acceptance”.
These are not quotes I’ve paid much attention to, up until now. Up until now, I never realised how important and life-changing acceptance can be. It’s a key that unlocks many situations. A key to a happier life, to greater wisdom, to freedom and ultimately to understanding yourself better.
You see, when you accept something for what it is, including the limitations of yourself or the situation, it opens up the possibility to relax. To give yourself space and time away from the constant judgments we tend make upon ourselves and on what happens to us. We spend our lives battling against what is and I’m convinced that this is a major cause of our stress and unhappiness. We fight against ourselves, against situations and against what is happening to us. Yet when we accept, we relax. We breathe a sigh of relief. And now that I’m aware of this powerful tool, I apply it wherever I can to the situations I know I cannot change, at least for now.
Of course, I am not saying we should accept everything. I could give hundreds of examples of what we shouldn’t accept in life (the #metoo campaign provices good examples of this). But there are some things we cannot change (maybe forever, maybe for the time being) and rather than fighting against what is, we would do far better to accept.
Let me give you an example. Right from the outset, I decided to accept that my full physical recovery would take one year. That’s a long time. But right from the word go, I told myself it would take that long. And to this day, five months in, whilst the journey has been much like this
where I’m continually required to reset my expectations, and apply massive amounts of patience, overall, I am quiet and calm about my situation. This is because I have accepted that it will take a year. It’s important to note that am not ‘settling’, and nor should you. I am working very hard towards getting better as soon as I can. But by accepting, it gives me the strength to keep going. It encourages me to be more patient and allow my recovery to evole.
The allowing is very important in all this. If I’d not accepted my situation and agonised over why it had happened, if I’d focussed on all the things I was missing out on, rather than gaining, then my experience would have been altogether very different. I know I would have been miserable, constantly questioning and assessing my recovery and labelling any progress as failure. Instead, I have made peace with myself.
You cannot always change what is in life and I will have to leave you to make sense of what you situations you apply this lesson to and what you don’t. But my experience suggests it works on those you cannot change (at least for now) but continue to do battle with.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. Using acceptance on a daily basis will change your life for the better. Try it. Start today.