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Accepting what is. Living those three words are hands down one of the hardest principles for me. And yet, I know they are a secret to living happier. Letting go of the quest for the magic button, letting go of the need of constant self-improvement and accepting what is has opened me up to more growth and a more vivid life.
When we get trapped in self-improvement, we are looking to do something better to be someone better. The measuring stick is outside of ourselves. But when we are accepting what is, we are working with ourselves. No measuring sticks, no next place to arrive. Just one big exhale that we are doing the best we can with what we have.
Oh, far easier said than done. Every time I think I have it, and I am mastering this acceptance thing, in comes another reminder that this is going to be a life-long process, no mastery here.
This week is a prime example. I have been stressed. I know this because my body has been screaming at me YOU ARE STRESSED sending me all kinds of signals from tight muscles, stomach upset, and poor sleep. All week rather than listening to my body and accepting these messages I have been railing against them. My mongers have been inundating me with some nasty messages, “You have nothing to be stressed about. Think of all the people who have it way worse than you. Get it together and stop being such a baby” (I swear as you start listening you realize just how nasty you talk to yourself)
Finally, after a few days of this (yes, I let this go on for a few days…which is a victory for me, years ago it might have taken weeks or worse, I might not have even noticed it) I said to myself,
“Here’s the truth, you are stressed, who cares why who cares if it is justified, who cares if people have it worse than you, you aren’t living their lives and for whatever reason you are stressed. Ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away. Beating yourself up for it isn’t going to help. So let’s try acceptance”
So I did. I tried acceptance, and it worked. I also tried one of my favorite exercises from March’s UnBook Club called the Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler. She calls it Release Writing. To engage in this practice, you simply write whatever you are feeling, without thinking without judgment, without editing. Just writing, freestyle. And then after you purge all you are feeling (and you will probably be a little shocked by all that is in there) you burn it or rip it up or destroy it in some way. You accept it and let it go. I HIGHLY recommend this exercise; I have tried it a few times this week, and it has made a huge difference in quieting my Mongers, allowing me to accept what is and reducing my stress.
Fighting our feelings or justifying them won’t make us feel any better. Neither will getting stuck in them. We have to accept and release them. For our sanity and the sanity of those around us. Accept and Release. Try it; I swear it will change your life.