One of the things I have discovered doing years of therapy, and being a mother as well, is that suffering so often comes from refusing to accept what is. We say things like, “I refuse to accept this.” “Until he/she changes, I will not accept them.” “I cannot forgive them for what they did 35 years ago, so I’m going to continue to be miserable.”
When we say or think this way, our lives become a struggle and very painful. We also prevent ourselves from growing, changing and from allowing the situations that cause us so much pain to move into a less painful place.
When I say acceptance, I do not mean resigning yourself, which would result in continuing to feel sorry for yourself (a very non-productive state to be in). Acceptance is assenting to the reality of the situation, what is, without protesting or attempting to change it, allowing it to be.
When you can accept what is, amazingly what happens next in your life changes…for the better. You free yourself from fighting yourself, your demons, others; anger diminishes and you free yourself to view life in another way. You will find you have more energy because you have been using all that energy to focus on the negatives in your life and things you may never be able to change.
And then, forgive yourself for having wasted all that time, for doing what you thought was right or even for what you might have thought was wrong. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. What it does mean is that you are a human being. Humans make mistakes – it’s how we learn. We didn’t come with manuals so we learn as we go. Some of us have had great role models, most of us haven’t. We are bombarded with social media, with advertising, news, movies, unrealistic expectations that make us feel we are failing; that we are not good enough. Forgive yourself for buying into it all. (Advertisers are betting that we will all feel less than so that we will buy their products to make us feel better – though it does not work. But, it does make certain people rich.)
When you cannot forgive yourself, you continue with feelings of shame and guilt. It’s hard to move forward and feel good enough and worthy if you are full of shame. Eventually, you can do your best to forgive others. The more you forgive, the freer and happier you become.
It takes time. It takes some work. Without question, resistance will come up. Accept the resistance; it’s part of the process. If you have been punishing yourself for years and cannot accept your life as it is, it may take you longer than you would like to make the change. But, the more you accept what is and that what others think of you is their issue, not yours, the easier life can be. The happier and more satisfied with who you are happens.
I will continue to write more about this and the benefits of acceptance and forgiveness. Look into it. Try it. All you have to lose is pain and suffering and so much to gain.