"Look at what you bring to the world, not what you lack." - Miranda Kate

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

How to be Accepting & Stop Resisting What You Don't Like About Your Life

Image of white broken ice on the survice of water with the text: Break open your defenses and let go, accept where you are, now. Allow your life to flow.Do you get frustrated by the things you can’t change or control in your life?

Do you get angry when things don’t go the way you want?

Do you waste time and energy refusing to accept the ways things are?

 “Resistance is futile”- The Borg Collective - Star Trek: First Contact 😉

I am a not a Trekkie per se, but The Borg were correct. It will cause you more trouble than it’s worth to resist assimilation.

There are some things that you can’t change or control in life, but resisting them will cause you more pain in the long term and keep you stuck in a negative place for longer than necessary.

My best friend used to repeat to me on the phone, “Accept and allow, go with the flow of life.” It took me years to fully understand and embrace this concept. I could understand it in theory but it felt like an unachievable goal for me. I found everything difficult.

Even though I made decisions to do things – like moving to a foreign country and culture to be with my partner - I resisted them. Often it was because I didn’t really want to do them and I was doing them to please another, but I made it harder on myself by refusing to accept that it was a choice that I had made and not one that was forced upon me.

I was locked in the victim mindset.

In the instance of moving to a foreign country for love, this led me to reject what I found there: the friends, community, and the different culture. And rather than embrace the life on offer, I resisted it. I attempted a few things, but when they didn’t go the way I wanted or didn’t achieve the results I was looking for, I felt stuck and I fixated on feeling powerless.

I longed for the things I didn’t have and only focused on what was missing from my life. I became miserable, tense, stressed, frustrated and very angry. For me this manifested mentally in a breakdown in 2008, and physically in two slipped discs in my neck in 2014.

“Resisting what is happening is a major cause of suffering.” -  Pema Chodron 

But it was during the pain I experienced with the slipped disc in my neck (which trapped a nerve, putting my right shoulder and arm in excruciating pain for 8 weeks at a time – they slipped twice) that I learnt to surrender.

I learnt to accept that I couldn’t do anything. I let go of everything – all the expectations I had of myself and of others, all the things I thought I had to do, all the chores I did to try and feel that my life was worth living. I could do nothing, so I did nothing.

And what I found was that there were people to support me and my husband to pick up the slack. And when you aren’t able to lose your temper over something petty, you respond differently - quietly and calmly, and people respond differently.

Within the pain I found the calm I was seeking.

“You can't calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” - Timber Hawkeye

I had to surrender.

I don’t like to use the word surrender, because to me it means to give up – but I didn’t give up, I opened up.

I accepted that this was how things were going to be and to let go in that moment. I let others help me; I relinquished control; I stopped and observed the life around me.

In accepting that time (and fortunately recovering) I was able to understand that I needed to accept other aspects of my life too. I needed to look at what I did have in my life and appreciate it and embrace it. I started to take walks in nature and appreciate where I was living. I stopped thinking about my future and where my life was going, and started living in the present.

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

When the noise in my mind would start up about where I wanted to live, what I wanted to be doing with my life, and how I felt like I was stagnating and not growing, I would just let the noise go.

I would hear it, register it, but know that I could only get to where I wanted to step by step, day by day. I took the end goal, the one thing I wanted to do the most, and broke it down into small steps - things I could achieve on a daily basis.

This enabled me to feel like I was moving forward. I would still have moments of frustration, but rather than fight that frustration I would allow myself to feel it – journal it out, or express it to a trusted friend, but then I would let it go.

“Resisting your negative feelings just keeps you stuck.” - Kute Blackson

When I was learning to drive, my driving instructor told me I thought too much about what I was doing to make the learning process easy. He said he could always tell when I started thinking about what I was doing because I would stall the car or crunch the gears. He said, “If you just let go and let your body do what you have trained it to do, it will be much easier. When you think about it, you interrupt the flow.”

By thinking about what I was doing I was letting my brain take over and panic about what I was doing. If I had accepted that I did know and allowed the training to flow through me, I wouldn’t have had a problem.

Often resistance is built up from having too many expectations. If we drop expectation of how something will be, and of ourselves in that situation, and not focus on a desired outcome, we can accept whatever happens organically.

We can release ourselves from the need to control. We become open to whatever happens. And accepting how our life is, in that moment, brings freedom and peace.

“It takes radical acceptance to bring inner peace.”- Kute Blackson

It can be a struggle to accept where you are in life if it is not what you want or where you saw yourself being. You can be consumed with trying to change it. But while you are spending time looking at all the things that aren’t working, you are closed to what IS working.

But how do you stop, if you are truly unhappy with your situation?

Have you ever thought about taking a holiday from your thinking?

If there is something you know you can’t do anything about right now, such as: move house, move job, create more time for yourself, go traveling, then set a date in the future  - a month, 6 months, a year from now, when you can review it again.

And every time you find yourself thinking about it, say, “No, I'm not going to think about that until *insert date*.”

I found this worked to stop me constantly thinking about how to change my situation. I knew I wouldn’t be able to for more than a year, so I set a date to review it the following year. And every time I thought about it, I stopped myself. I said, no, I’m not going to think about that now. I took a holiday from thinking about it. And the more often I stopped myself from thinking about it, the easier it became, until I was thinking about it less and less.

And what also happened, during that holiday, was say to myself, okay, I’m here for the next year, so how can I enjoy and embrace the life I have right now?

It changed the entire perspective I had on the life I was actually living. I was able to engage more with the people in my life and create a better day to day existence.

It broke the habit of the negative frustrated thoughts I was experiencing and allowed me to concentrate on the things that I could change in my life at that moment, and give myself room to work on the things that would help me move forward to the change I did want to see.

By accepting my life as it was I'd freed myself from being a victim in my life, which enabled me to find my personal power over the things I could do something about. It gave me freedom and peace of mind.

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle

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