The Monthly Motivator April 2003
The MONTHLY Motivator - April 2003
The power of acceptance
It can significantly reduce your stress level, make you vastly more productive and effective, and make your relationships far more fulfilling. In fact, it can help you to improve every area of your life. It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't require any specialized training. It requires no physical effort of any kind.
It is, simply, acceptance of what is.
When you accept what is, it does not mean that you sit back and let life roll over you. It does not mean that you resign yourself to remaining stuck where you are. It does not mean that you allow others to take advantage of you, or that you refrain from taking any action to make things better. It means simply that you accept what is, right now in this moment, for what it is, without fighting or denial or worry, without illusions, without blame or remorse or resentment. When you accept what is, it does not mean that you are willing to live with it forever. It means simply that you're acknowledging the reality of the current situation, freeing yourself from the grasp of any disappointments of the past or worry about the future.
On the surface, acceptance is something that is very easy to do. After all, it involves no action or effort of any kind. And yet acceptance can be extremely difficult to achieve. Because your mind is constantly reminding you of the past and projecting you into the future, making all sorts of judgments and assumptions about things that simply do not exist at the current time. Acceptance is a matter of putting all that aside, of looking clearly at where you are and at when your circumstances are, being sincerely grateful for your situation, whatever it may be, and then making the very best of what is available to you.
The past is over and cannot be changed. So it does not serve any purpose to complain loudly about it, or to argue about it, or to assign blame for things that have already happened. Yes, there are things you can learn from the past and from where your past actions, and the actions of others, have brought you. But wishing you had done something differently will not make it so. The time you have available to you is this moment, right now. And the best thing you can do now, in this moment, is to act with full acceptance of the reality of the moment.
Similarly, the future is not here. Nothing in the future exists at this point in time, and worrying about what will happen is just an empty exercise, not to mention a waste of the present moment. The things you worry about in the future exist only in your mind right now. Certainly it is wise to anticipate what could happen and to take action now that will help you to be better prepared. But be careful that your worries about the future do not prevent you from making the most of what is available to you right now.
So what exactly can acceptance do for you, and how?
Acceptance can keep you focused on what really matters, on what really can make a difference, which is what you can do right now. You cannot take any action in the past, so it doesn't make much sense to keep your attention focused on past events. Though you can certainly plan for the future, you cannot currently take any future actions. The current moment is what is available to you. So the more willingly and realistically you accept it, the more you're able to accomplish with it.
Acceptance saves you the wasted effort of fighting against things that do not exist, and frees up your energy so you can put that energy to use in moving positively forward. Acceptance allows you to make decisions based on what you can actually do, right here and now, rather than on what might have been or what might could be. As such, when you consistently practice acceptance it can be enormously liberating.
Consider a skilled swimmer who accidentally falls from the center of a bridge into a swiftly flowing river. If she fights directly against the flow of the water, and tries to swim directly upstream, no matter how strong or how skilled she may be at swimming, she will not be any match for the strength of the current, and will be swept further and further downstream. Yet if she simply accepts that the current is carrying her along, and swims along with it, moving a little in the direction of one riverbank or the other with each stroke, soon she will be safely out of the water and able to make her way back upstream on foot. Just because she accepted the fact that she was being carried downstream by the current did not mean that she had to forever stay downstream. On the contrary, her acceptance of the reality of the situation was precisely what enabled her to successfully deal with it.
Acceptance is an acknowledgment of which way life is flowing at the moment, and an ability to flow along with it to successfully get where you intend to go. Acceptance has many different forms and can be applied in a variety of situations. Let's look at a few examples of the kinds of acceptance you can practice on a daily basis.
Acceptance of uncertainty - There are things you know and there are other things you don't know. There are things you're able to find out, and other things that you simply have no way of knowing. Uncertainty is a fact of life, and a fact of the present moment in which you're living and taking action. The more informed you can make yourself, the better off you are. However, you cannot know everything. And rather than bemoaning that fact and letting it stop you, simply accept that there is some uncertainty and move forward anyway. No one can know for sure exactly what will happen tomorrow. What you can know for certain, when you practice acceptance, is that whatever does come, you'll find a way to deal with it. You've accepted what is, as it is right now, and when the time comes you'll be able to accept what is on some future day.
Acceptance of effort - If something needs to be done, and the effort is going to be unpleasant, the worst thing you can do is to fight against it. Some people have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, because they simply cannot tolerate the thought of putting forth the effort required to get up and go through the day. But effort is not inherently a bad or unpleasant thing. In fact, the only thing that makes it unpleasant is the reluctance to do it. Effort can actually be far more enjoyable and fulfilling than sitting around doing nothing. Few people would choose to be locked up in a prison cell, but far too many people place themselves into a virtual prison by refusing to accept anything but the most minimal amount of effort.
Once you accept the fact that life involves effort, then the effort is no problem at all. Certainly it may be difficult and demanding, yet you are completely capable of seeing it through when you don't spend the majority of your energy resenting it.
Accepting good fortune - When something wonderful comes into your life, do you accept it and enjoy it? Or do you worry that you might lose it, and take so many steps to protect yourself from the imagined loss that you end up not enjoying it at all. Good fortune can be just as uncomfortable as disappointment, often even more so. Because when you experience some particular good fortune, not only is it a change, it's a change that provides you with more to lose. Or perhaps you feel that you're not worthy of the goodness and abundance that life offers, and worry that your good fortune is coming to you at the expense of someone else. It's important to be able to accept the good fortune that comes your way. Because if you continue to sabotage that good fortune, it will eventually stop coming to you. Accept your achievements, your successes and the other good things that happen in your life. Yes, you might lose them one day, but that's all the more reason to make the most of them right now. If you constantly worry about losing them, perhaps because you feel you're not worthy of them, then not only will you indeed lose them, you never will have really ever had them. Accept your good fortune, enjoy and delight in it, and make the very most of it.
Acceptance of consequences - Everything you do has consequences. On the whole, that can be a very good thing. After all it's what makes you able to achieve the things you set out to achieve. Of course the downside is that, in a world of consequences, there are negative consequences as well as positive ones. Even the negative consequences have their positive value, though. Because they are excellent teachers. The negative consequences show you, in a clear and compelling way, what not to do. Imagine what the world would be like if there were no consequences at all, if everything just occurred at random. It would be frustrating and painful indeed. There would be no way to know what to do, because you would not know which actions would lead to which results. When you accept and embrace the fact that there are consequences, you begin to learn what things you must do in order to reach the places you desire to go. Even though some of the particular consequences are themselves undesirable, they are nonetheless a vital part of the mix. When you can accept the consequences, whatever they may be, then you have a powerful and effective tool for moving positively forward.
Acceptance of other people - Successful, healthy, productive relationships, whether personal, business or social, are built on acceptance. A great relationship is not about changing the other person, but about valuing and appreciating that other person, and finding mutually beneficial ways to move positively forward. Acceptance of others does not mean that you allow others to dominate or control you. It means that you see and appreciate other people for who they are. It means that you respect the opinions of others, even if you strongly disagree with them. Acceptance of others does not mean that you tolerate destructive behavior in others, but that you deal honestly transparently with any source of disagreement or confrontation. Every person is a unique individual, with something special to contribute. Don't expect others to think or act exactly like you do, because no one ever will. Instead, look for the good and valuable things in others and build your relationships on those things. Accept that there will be minor annoyances. When you accept those minor annoyances, they won't bother you nearly as much, and they won't grow into big problems.
But what if the other person is a total jerk? Accept that person anyway. You don't have to like someone in order to accept them as they are. The main thing about accepting others is that you avoid trying to change them. Sure, you can offer your assistance and advice. But also keep in mind that the weaknesses of others are their problems, not yours. Accept that they're who they are, and you'll be well positioned to make the best of the relationship.
Acceptance of disappointment - Nowhere is the power of acceptance more influential than in dealing with disappointment. When you get your hopes up, and are excited and enthusiastic about something, and then it doesn't work out, the resulting disappointment can be devastating. Yet most of that devastation comes not from the situation itself, but from your own mind. Your disappointment can quickly turn what was once a very positive situation into an extremely negative experience. The way out of this is through acceptance of the disappointment, through letting go. Amazingly, when you accept the disappointment you can literally turn that disappointment around. You can quickly regain the positive enthusiasm and excitement when you realize that they were your creation, did not depend on outside events, and cannot be taken from you by things beyond your control.
When you've been disappointed, and you continue to agonize over that disappointment, all you're doing is making it worse. As soon as you accept the disappointment, and accept that you can get along without whatever it was you wanted or previously had, a powerful transformation occurs. You get past the focus on lack and limitation, and free your mind to focus on the positive possibilities. Interestingly, as soon as you do not need something, it becomes much more available to you. So when you've been disappointed, there's nothing to be gained by fighting against that disappointment and thus intensifying it. There is, in fact, everything to be gained by accepting the disappointment and moving quickly past it. Once you accept the disappointment, then the negative power of that disappointment ceases to have any affect on you.
Acceptance of responsibility - No matter who is at fault or who is to blame, you are responsible for the things you care about. That can be difficult to accept when you've been conditioned to think of responsibility as a burden. But responsibility is not a burden. It is a blessing and an opportunity.
Yes, there are always circumstances to blame. Yes, there are those who would hold you back. Yes, there are things beyond your control. Accept responsibility anyway. People who achieve greatness are people who believe that whatever happens to them, they are responsible for it. It may seem unfair, yet it is ultimately liberating.
Stepping up and accepting responsibility, puts you in control. Take responsibility. Even if it's not your fault, it's your life. Even if it's not your assignment, it's your job.
You have a choice. You can always find someone, or something, to blame, and thereby allow circumstances and other people to control your life. Or, you can step up and accept responsibility, no matter what. That puts you firmly in control, and gives you the power to live your life the way you choose.
That's what acceptance ultimately creates in every place that it is practiced -- strong, positive power. Accept what is, and you go from being a victim to being a victor. Accept what is, and you free yourself from needless worry and despair. Practice acceptance, and you'll set yourself up to make the most of every moment that comes to you.
-- Ralph Marston
Copyright 2003 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All rights reserved.All my loving I'll be sending youSianna
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