I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” –Anne Lamott
Accepting things as they are without wanting to change them is, I would say, probably one of the most evolved and mature ways of moving through and seeing life. It takes spiritual work and tenacity to cultivate the ability – it is not something just anyone can do on the fly, contrary to what some spiritual teachers would have you believe.
On the contrary, I think it takes work. Practice. Cultivation. Discipline. Desire. And repetition to master the ability to fully, 100% accept each and every moment, pain-free or not, exactly as it is, without wishing for it to be different.
Please do me a favor & relieve yourself of this burden if you can’t really do it as often as you’d like yet. You’re okay.
Here’s the thing though…
Is it even a desire for you?
And if it’s not – I’d like you to evaluate why.
Because one of our innate human drives is control – did you know that? Brendan Burchard talks about this in his book, The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive, which I’m about halfway through right now (and loving)!
When I say control, we have to be really careful how we interpret that though (and this is an existing human error and problem). Because there are many among us who have taken this desire for control to exceeding heights. They attempt to control others, control their spouse, control how others want/need to feel, control everyone and every thing around them, control outcomes on every level, and even control their own emotions to a point that nothing is felt.
This is unhealthy control.
Healthy control is the kind we’re going for – it refers to healthy boundaries wherever we want/need them, making our choices as we were designed to do, designing our lifestyles, where we live, what we drive, how we get from A to B, what social media channels we use, etc. This is the kind of control we all want to have over our lives (well most of us).
The trouble with control being an innate human drive is that it can easily interfere when things approach that aren’t controllable, which seems to be most things in life.
Getting the phone call about our kid. Getting the phone call about our parent. The bad health diagnosis. The car accident. The divorce. The alzheimer’s. The inevitable break-up. The black mail scheme fully loaded with no way out.
All things that make us feel out of control of our own life.
And yet, there’s a beckon to somehow “accept” what IS in order to feel like a more evolved and mature human being on this planet.
These are paradoxical desires and competing drives in our lives – if we care about enhancing our awareness and existence. Otherwise, a person probably wouldn’t even feel this tug and pull. I’m guessing you do.
So how DO we get to that point where we can accept what is?
I want to give you a new perspective today from one of my favorite teachers of all time – Byron Katie. In the below video she does a quick demonstration of what we put ourselves through in this wrestling with “what is.” And pay attention to what she keeps asking – “is it true?”
Her premise is powerful and simple, yet so incredibly profound. What she’s really saying is that as long as we convince ourselves things should be a certain way, we suffer. Period. Whether it’s “my daughter isn’t supposed to be sick” or “I should have more money than I do.” Those thoughts are stories that create tension and suffering. Until we begin to do something about it, it’s just a story. And that’s all good, great, and fine until it starts warring in your mind with reality and what is – this is the war she references.
How powerful is that? How shifting is that perspective?
Steven Pressfield labels it “resistance” in his book, The War of Art. Same exact concept.
And as it relates to self-expression, accepting what is is what allows us to create a bridge to pursue our desires and passions.
If I can accept the twang in my voice, the mono-tone, the way I say what I say, the way I dance, the way I sing, the way I present myself, then I’ve created a bridge to allow it to be expressed – but not a second before.
This is the third part of the Expression Quotient – accepting what IS. We talked about the first part, which is who you are (identity). The second part was who you want to be (which is about freedom). The third part is accepting what IS, which is about self-acceptance.
Accepting what is relieves suffering. It brings calm, peace, & self-assurance for the future. It’s what allows you and I to focus on the process much much less than the outcome.
Is there a balance between this and having goals, desires & dreams? Absolutely! I’m by no means advocating that we put aside all hopes for anything in the future whatsoever – that goes against our human genetic makeup.
But I am advocating that we can do so without suffering. You can arrive at those points in peace or in stress – and only one of those paths comes by way of accepting what is. The other by pushing against it.
What about you? What do you say about this?
Next week, I’ll finish up the Expression Quotient quadrant with what can be. This will be the final piece of the quotient and we’re gonna be ready to explore your personal quotient.
I would love your thoughts on today’s topic – I know it’s a bit controversial, but we’re all here to learn from and grow from each other.
Hugs & support,