A few weeks ago I mentioned in the post Resisting Acceptance that I had wanted to publish a post about acceptance but that it didn’t sit right with me as I felt so unaccepting at the time. Having (thankfully) shifted my perspective since, I feel much better about presenting this to you today.
A few months ago Hans and I had gone to visit my grandmother. The moment I went to the bathroom my grandmother had asked him how I was doing (gotta love her timing). When I returned he was telling her about my visit to a coach. He was saying that a coach can broach subjects that for a loved one can be difficult to talk about. While on the one hand he admired my determination, he also found it difficult to watch me fight relentlessly for some improvement.
He had asked me at one point: Do you need the hope of something better? “Yes!”, was my immediate reply. Yes, I believe (hope/need) that if I can have a good day it should be possible for me to function that way more often. Plus, I have read countless stories about people healing themselves from far worse illnesses than this, so yes, I do believe. And I can’t do what I want to do with what I have now… so yes, I do need it. He had thought to himself: “it has been almost 12 years since the stroke…and you still hope for improvement?”
He wanted to encourage me to accept my condition as it is,
but didn’t want to take away my hope.
As he was telling my grandmother this I noticed that I felt small. And let me be clear: I felt small not because of what he said, because what he said was all true. I felt small because to me it touched on a sense of failure. My mind rushed to defend my position. I started explaining how I had come a long way in terms of acceptance. (After all, I have accepted that I can’t work anymore and that I will never be a mom and getting to that point was no picnic I can tell you.)
The truth is though: I have not yet accepted ALL of it. I still struggle to accept the unpredictable nature of my condition. I still struggle to accept that I often feel completely spent for days on end without having a reasonable explanation for it. I fail to understand why I can function relatively well one day and not be able to sustain that.
“I have still not accepted it, after all these years.”
Notice how I am making up a story around it? I noticed the same thing. That’s exactly what I had been doing.
Now let me track back to the conversation with my grandmother. Hans was telling her about my coaching session and that she had asked me what I would need to be okay with what I had now. I then told my grandmother what I had told my coach. I said that if I knew for a fact I would never heal, I would be relieved. Relieved because it would mean I could stop fighting, stop struggling, stop working so damn (carefully leaving out this word for my grandmother) hard.
In that first session with my coach Deirdre she gave me the idea to start a blog. And the beauty of it is that this venture of starting a blog has brought me a lot closer to acceptance. Now, I get to write about all of this. Now, I get to contribute in some small way. Now, the bad days, instead of standing in my way, fuel the writing. Keyword: Now.
Instead of needing to get somewhere,
I am (more) okay with where I am now.
That is the very definition of Acceptance.
All of this has brought me closer to acceptance. One step closer. That is the part to focus on. I have not failed because I have not yet accepted all of it yet.
When there is no destination to get to, the focus is not on how far I have yet to go, but rather on the steps I have already taken. So I have not failed, I have succeeded by completing one more step. Succeeded in getting closer.
One step closer.
I now move away from self-judgment and tap into some understanding and compassion. It has been and still is a lot to deal with. It is no small thing I am being asked to embrace. I really have come a long way. And this time I’m not saying it to defend a mental position. This time I say it with understanding and compassion for myself.
It is tempting though isn’t it? To keep looking at how far you still have to go as opposed to have far you’ve come? To get frustrated with yourself when you “fail” and forget to acknowledge it when you succeed? Tempting though it may be, I now understand how much more helpful it is to be gentle to myself. However “easy” it may seem to get lost in self-judgment (easy because if you’re anything like me you’ve had a lot of practise), in reality, it is far easier to be gentle to yourself. Not that it is an easy thing to tap into, it’s just that the journey gets easier when you do.
“Ease” comes with acceptance, not resistance.
If you have been reading this and you’re thinking about a situation in your own life that you struggle to accept: My wish for you is that you can be gentle with yourself about it. Acknowledge it to yourself when you can tap into acceptance and be compassionate with yourself when you can’t. Meanwhile, I will do what I can to take my own advice. One step at a time.
After writing all of this I have come to a new understanding of acceptance. I think it would serve us to change that metaphor so we don’t get stuck thinking we should be farther along on this so-called “road” we’re on, or feel daunted by the imaginary distance we have yet to cover.
Maybe it’s time for a more helpful analogy. I will write more about this later. (If you don’t want to miss it, enter your email to subscribe and I’ll keep you posted on new posts.)
Meanwhile it might be best to use the road metaphor to look over our shoulder and acknowledge how far we’ve come as opposed to how far we have yet to go. So let’s take a moment to celebrate those steps that we’ve already taken. What has brought you closer to your goal recently? What step(s) have you completed? Please share in the comments below. We’re all in this together, so let’s cheer each other on.