Accepting ‘what is’ FEELS like it’s in opposition to what we want when we don’t like what “is.”
- What if we don’t like where we work or live?
- What if I don’t like my habits?
- What if we don’t like the thoughts going on inside our minds?
- What if we don’t even know what we don’t like, we’re just unhappy?
Those ‘what ifs’ cause a sense of discomfort almost 24/7.
We FEAR that if we accept them, we’ll get complacent, doze off into a cloud of denial & not strive for something different. We think we won’t change if we accept what we don’t like.
The opposite is true; change is more challenging if you DON’T accept what you don’t like about the current reality.
1. Accepting What Is – Unwanted Thoughts:
Have you ever just recognized your thoughts? I mean, without reacting to them, judging them, suppressing them? Just noticing.
If you have, you’ve probably seen a lot more negative ones than positive ones.
Your brain has a negative bias, this is why it’s so difficult to think “positively” and so easy to think “negatively.”
The reason for the negative bias is the need to survive. There was a time when we were tribal beings, dependent on our relationships within the tribe to survive. Without the tribe’s support, we’d perish. Threats existed around each corner. We didn’t have societal governance, police forces or warm homes. We were exposed to threats of danger and the elements.
Before you judge yourself for your negative thoughts, consider this.
For 3 million years we depended on our status in the tribe VS only 12 thousand years of more independent-styled settlement living.
That puts some perspective on the matter.
And it makes my next challenge to you easier to follow through with: allow your negative thoughts to be with you.
I’m not talking about resigning to them; I’m saying don’t fight them: what you resist will persist. Give yourself some compassion. Allow the thought to come in & leave again realizing the perception of danger you feel is there for good reason, but not based on your current reality.
2. Accepting What Is – Unwanted Emotions:
This is not what we are used to, but learning to allow our emotions breeds a sense of hope, not hopelessness ultimately.
We are afraid to allow what we feel because we think those feelings will swallow us whole.
THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE:
- When we make space to allow emotion, it creates a sense of compassion for that emotion. The feeling quiets down because it “feels heard.” We feel heard.
- We can’t hate or suffer ourselves into changing. If we want things to be different within ourselves or reach new goals, we first have to accept where we are with compassion, not hate.
- Acceptance always precedes change: Learn to like yourself.
- Forcing ourselves into change because we don’t like where we are is not sustainable.
- The motive to remove thoughts or habits because we don’t like them is not, on its own, enough to inspire long-term action.
- Sustainable change comes from adding something we love to someone we love, not removing something we hate from someone we don’t love.
No emotion is bad, they feel bad, but they aren’t. They simply are. They are part of where you are right now:
Acceptance Prompt for difficult emotions:
“This is where I currently am.
I have had emotions before.
They come, and they go, and this one will go as well.”
3. Accepting What Is – Compassion:
- With Compassion always comes a sense of openness.
- A broader range of emotions & thoughts becomes available to us.
- We become more creative in our solutions to problems.
We begin to see that an undesired experience is one wave on a vast ocean of other experiences. It’s not our whole experience. Different potential experiences suddenly come online, and what once looked like a tidal wave becomes a ripple in a sea of choices & opportunities.
Take some time to shift this perspective. It’s uncomfortable at first, and it isn’t supposed to be. Acknowledge that is part of the process.
It’s tough when things don’t go our way. We’ve got expectations that things need to result in the way we want them to. For example, if we work hard, we expect that we’ll be rewarded. But that isn’t always the case & we get disappointed in ourselves. Instead, what if we adjusted our expectations on how what & when anything should be happening?
5. How to release expectations:
When stuff doesn’t work out:
- pivot to form a new goal,
- a different pace,
- or another way to get what you want.
Instead of doing something just for the goal & focus on the experience of reaching a goal you:
- GAIN MORE CONTROL of your emotional experience.
- You enjoy the process more without all the attachments of how it should go.
- You enjoy the present moment because you don’t EXPECT that things have to go your way for you to be ok.
Do you see how that works?
Situations are determined not by what we want but by what is. Accepting that and pivoting to incorporate an inventive means to an end gives us more opportunity to get what we want.