“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
….unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” – Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
In recent events this ideal has been pushed to its limits. There are circumstances in my life that I feel sad about. It is hard to accept what has happened. It is hard to see how to move forward. If you have faced a loss; are struggling right now; then perhaps these tips may help you; as they are now, helping me:
1. The past can not be changed. It has happened. Train my mind to stay focused on the present; not dreaming about how things could have been. Not wishing they could be different. Just sit with the sadness. Let go of any guilt if I had a part in things. Guilt and shame keep us stuck. Acceptance must be applied to ourselves first.
2. Accept that things will be uncomfortable. When we start a new job, get divorced, experience the loss of a loved one, or lose things that are valuable to us, we are left in an uncomfortable state. When we embrace those uncomfortable feelings instead of wishing them away they pass more quickly. We can feel our feelings and move forward.
3. Change our thoughts. What if this was meant to happen for my personal growth? It is not what I planned. It does not seem fair. It may seem cruel and inhumane. But thinking those thoughts causes me to suffer. Believing this event had meaning brings me peace. What if we choose to believe the thought that brings us peace even if we don’t fully understand or even believe it to be true? If it brings us peace does it really matter if it is “true”? Who is to say what is really “true”. So much of life is a vast mystery behind our human comprehension.
4. Remember this is temporary. Everything in life changes. Things may stay the same for a time. They may get worse. They may get better. History has proven that things will ebb and flow. When I am happy I am mindful to savor it. To enjoy the moment. When I am sad I remember it is temporary. I remember the good times and trust they will once again return.
5. Be vulnerable. When I need support I call a friend. I usually share a feeling – simply sharing that “I am sad”. I don’t make my friends suffer through detailed stories of all the sordid events and every nuance. The greatest gift we can give a friend is love and support. When we listen, when we are present and when we empathize, we share the essence of who we are.
6. Focus not on what we’ve lost but on what we still have. I reach out to help other people when I have experienced a loss. I pay extra attention to my children. I kiss them and hug them and hold them tight. I tell them they are the best thing in my life. I thank friends for their love and support. I do kind acts of service. This helps me see all the abundance in my life.
We have control over our reactions even if we don’t think so. We have a choice in how we choose to meet life’s challenges. This is character building. Sometimes the payoff is slow to come. Sometimes we endure months or even years of grief before our hard work can yield results. The result can be healing, personal growth, spiritual maturity, and a sense of well being. They will most certainly be whatever we declare we want in our lives.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie.