How often do you find yourself in a rush to change your thoughts, feelings, or circumstances?
We're taught that in order to get what we want in life, we have to think positive, feel better and achieve our goals as quickly as possible. We think if we accept our current state of being, we're settling for an unfulfilling life.
If you've ever thought this way, I want to invite you to pause and wonder whether taking this approach helps or hinders your progress?
What if I told you that the ONLY way to get where you want to go, is by accepting where you are right now?
Think about someone who wants to start working out, but doesn't want to accept their current level of fitness. They just want to get to the point where they can squat 200 pounds.
So they go to the gym, load the plates on the barbell, and go for it.
But the weight is too much, and they collapse, pulling a muscle on the way down.
They stop working out, heal, and six weeks later are back in the gym, repeating the cycle.
Until they actually decide to meet themselves where they are, they're going to stay in this pattern of overdoing it and injuring themselves.
When I was struggling with social anxiety a few years ago, all I wanted was to stop feeling anxious.
I just wanted to be able to be in a conversation with someone and not feel sweaty, nervous and awkward.
It wasn't until I truly accepted that it was okay for me to feel sweaty, nervous and awkward, that I was able to move past it. (I still get nervous sometimes, but I don't have the same reaction, because when I stopped resisting social anxiety, I worked to understand it, and now I know that feeling nervous is normal.)
I worked with a client a few years ago who desperately wanted to be in a relationship.
She believed that having a partner would solve her loneliness, and that if she found someone to spend her life with, she would stop thinking she was unworthy of love.
It wasn't until she slowed down, and took the time to understand where her feelings of loneliness and unworthiness were coming from, that she was able to actually enjoy a first (and second, and third) date with a potential partner.
Another woman came to me wanting to prove to herself that she can live her life on her own terms, by quitting her job, selling her house and moving to a new city.
Our work together involved understanding that she actually was living life on her own terms--familiarity, people pleasing, and avoidance. She just wanted to change her terms--self trust, courage, and adventure.
She could still choose to change her circumstances, but didn't need to do so in order to prove anything.
Acceptance is not a passive state, but an active one. It requires courage and vulnerability to face your current self and situation as it is, without judgment or resistance.
When you meet yourself where you are, you can see your challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than seeing them as setbacks.
When you recognize resistance to a thought, feeling or circumstance, try asking yourself:
Why is this (thought, feeling or circumstance) a problem?
What do I believe would be better if this (thought, feeling or circumstance) changed?
If I knew this (thought, feeling or circumstance) was permanent, how might I want to think about it?