The first time I heard that statement I was like what?!? What does that even mean? If I accept what is, does that make what is ok? How does my suffering come from not accepting what is? I had so many questions. I wanted to push that statement away. But it stuck in my head so I had to explore what it meant for me. So I dove in and I discovered this is 100% true. When I have a circumstance in my life that I don’t like, it's not the circumstance that causes my suffering, it's my thinking about the circumstance that causes my suffering. I may not be able to change the circumstance, but I can change my thinking about it.
Let’s unpack this a bit.
First, accept that every circumstance is neutral and we assign meaning to it based on our perception. This is a big conversation that I’ll talk about another time. Trust me though, this concept & practice alone can change your life.
Second, does accepting what is, make what is ok? In my mind acceptance does not condone what is. For example, If someone’s partner cheats on them, accepting the fact that this happened does not condone the behavior. What accepting the circumstance does is allow the non-cheating partner to process emotions from a different space. From a space of taking 100% responsibility for how they are going to respond and move forward. Here’s the good news and the bad news, we create everything In our lives so everything you have or don’t have is all because of you. Of course things happen to us that are out of our control, however, it is our responsibility to not give our power away to that event. We are responsible for our experience of that event; this is so powerful if we are willing!
I also had the thought, does accepting what is, mean I don’t set goals and desire something more or different? Of course not! We need to know the truth of where we are so we can decide where we want to go.
When I am feeling a constrictive emotion, like anger or frustration, I know it’s time to stop myself and ask what am I not accepting about the situation. Am I wanting someone to behave in a different way, am I trying to control an outcome, am I just wanting things to be different than they are. It’s ok to want things different than they are, and there’s a possibility I can make them different. First I must accept how things are right now, today.
The place to start with all of this is having awareness about our thoughts. This takes practice, thinking about our thinking. And guess what!? Every thought we think is not true! One of the most important questions I ask myself and my clients is, Is that true? Start practicing that.
Baby steps my friends. We’ve been thinking the same way for most of our lives. It takes practice and persistence to change our thinking. If you want something different, you have to think something different to do something different and to me this is one of the best places to start.
"Change your thinking, change your life" ~ Brian Tracy