On Acceptance

AcceptanceWater is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot heal. As a rule, whatever is soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. – Lao-Tzu

softnessI wish I could be the sort of person who moves steadily through her life, becoming in small, consistent increments a better version of herself. But that’s not how things work for me.  My life seems to be punctuated by deep periods of growth and learning, usually precipitated by some kind of crisis. Those periods of learning are followed by long stretches of oblivious coasting. And at heart, I’m a bit of a coaster. It’s easy for me to get all comfortable and complacent and not take a look at the things I’m struggling with or that I’m avoiding. But that’s where the learning is.

In the MomentEarly in September, crisis hit, and I realized I had some learning to do. And this time, I ended up coming face to face with the concept of acceptance. Tracing my troubles, I saw that I needed to learn to accept others (particularly romantic partners) as they are, imperfections and all. And before that, I needed to accept my own imperfections, rather than struggling so hard to control them and to hide them. And even before that, I needed to learn to accept my thoughts and feelings for what they are: just thoughts, just feelings, and not “THE TRUTH.”

Learning to accept my thoughts has been transformational. It had never occurred to me before that my thoughts and feelings weren’t the truth. I thought that if I was in a relationship and struggling with doubt or uncertainty, with irritation or judgement, that I was obviously in the wrong relationship. It never occurred to me that perhaps these thoughts were normal. It never occurred to me that perhaps these uncomfortable feelings were a way for me to create distance when things got too close.  And it never occurred to me that rather than trying to control these thoughts and suppress them, it would be far more effective to accept them and just not act on them.

acceptI’m learning now to be more mindful. I’m learning to notice the thoughts that float through my mind, to notice how fleeting they are when I don’t get attached to them. I’m learning to accept what comes up without trying to fight it. And in doing so, everything feels easier. I’m not so anxious, not so consumed by doubt. I actually feel comfortable being in a relationship.

These days I’m channeling the soft, fluid energy of water. And it’s making a difference.

What are you learning about yourself at the moment?


About Sally

Poet, seeker, author, mom. Celebrating the beauty and mystery that surrounds us and learning to trust in the journey.
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31 Responses to On Acceptance

  1. Gunta says:

    I’m learning that the older I get, these sorts of struggles actually get easier… 🙂

  2. Jerry says:

    I’m learning that I love writing and that writing is the best way of learning 🙂

    • Absolutely! You should see my stack of journals! And at the end of each one (and sometimes part way through) I make lists: Sally’s Collected Wisdom. Too bad I don’t always remember that learning 🙂
      Looking forward to your next post!

      • Del T says:

        So brilliant! – making a list of collected wisdom at the end of a journal. Well guess what I’m going to spend my afternoon doing? And…a lovely post and reminder to step aside from thoughts and not hold as truth. Occasionally I use The Work questions from Byron Katie when I am particularly bogged down in my own ‘truths’ . I love her first questions – “Is this true?” and “Is this absolutely true?” – and I would say that 99.8% of the time, it is not the absolute truth – whatever story I have running in my head. I keep wondering if we manifest times of deep growth (e.g. crisis) and if it is possible to avoid such periods with ongoing awareness and incremental learning. I ask myself if I ‘create’ the crisis when I’ve persisted in failing to notice the lessons when they are arriving in more subtle ways? So, your idea to look back and collect the wisdom seems a good place to start creating ease and awareness.

      • What a lovely surprise to see you here, Del! Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your wise strategies and questions. I think you’re right that we sometimes manifest our crises, though perhaps not always. Certainly my “September Crisis” was of my own making. Had I been more self aware, it wouldn’t have needed to happen. On the other hand, I needed the crisis to prompt me into seeking the learning I needed. Sigh… Any suggestions for moving toward a state of ongoing awareness and incremental learning?

  3. Diane C says:

    I used to think that you had to struggle to learn – that learning was hard, painful. Now I believe that letting go allows the learning to flow in and it is so much easier!

  4. El Guapo says:

    It sounds like you’re learning the difficult lesson of self-acceptance. Took me a long long time to begin to even discover that one, let alone learn it.

    Right now I’m learning that my nap was too short.
    Ah well…

  5. anacruiz10 says:

    Wow, I really enjoyed this, I could really learn from you!

  6. anacruiz10 says:

    I’m also learning that I can’t control everything and I need to let go more.

  7. kingmidget says:

    What am I learning? That I remain too susceptible to the distractions of the internet. 😉

  8. amb says:

    Welcome back!! You’ve been missed, my friend. I love the idea of “channeling water” – what a fabulous way of describing mindfulness! I’m on a similar learning curve myself, at the moment. Trying to relax and enjoy experiences for what they are instead of always mentally skipping ahead to the next step. “Trying” was the key word in that sentence 🙂

  9. I’m learning that my imperfections are what make me who I am, so I no longer try to be what everyone expects me to be. Welcome back!

    • So lovely to see you! I wish I could care less about how others see me. Your approach is so healthy! I always worry, “what will people think?” I’m at least becoming aware of how damaging my “big, bad question” is.

  10. kp says:

    Hi Sally: I think your learning pattern probably mirrors that of most of us…Most of us are too busy living our lives to think about the issues in our lives until we have to! Relationships can be tough; they can bring out the best and worst in us. I have found that is helps if we start by acknowledging each others’ feelings. “I can see why it feels that way to you; can you see how it might feel this way to me.” I also find it helps to know that there does not always need to be someone who is “at fault”; usually there is just a clash of needs, wants, perceptions and understandings. Good luck….Kim

    • Thank you for those wise words, Kim. Relationships are hard and I think mid-life, post-divorce relationships are a particular challenge. I’m only now beginning to see how complicated my baggage is having gone through divorce. But your advice is a very good reminder about what matters most.

  11. Denise Hisey says:

    What a lovely journey you’re on… I’m learning I’m forgivable.

  12. Pingback: On Appreciation | Deliberately Delicious

  13. Sounds like a great place to be, Sally. I’m glad you took time out to process, learn and heal. For my part, I’m learning that I can make mistakes. And that I can recover from them. And that everything has it’s own timing and rhythm – whether I like it or not 🙂

  14. Beautiful, beautiful post accentuated by the image. I, too, am learning this at the moment. Accepting imperfection sin myself and others without the need to control or change. I will try to glide through them with the fluidity of water knowing all will be well. Thank you! x

  15. Acceptance is a lesson I need to keep learning over and over again. Thanks so much for dropping by – and congratulations on the impending publication of your book!

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