I’ve caught myself several days this past week wanting something other than what’s been showing up in my life. I expect one thing, and something different actually happens. I neatly plan my day, design it consciously with my intentions and calendar. Then, well, something unexpected happens, like events don’t go as planned or others’ priorities change. What I want or need to do in the moment is radically different from what I had envisioned. This dissonance between what I expected and ‘what is’ makes me uncomfortable, dissatisfied, empty, or mad – there are all kinds of feelings that I would categorize as ‘negative.’ I’ve been exploring how to be at peace in this chaotic and unpredictable world that I live in.
I see acceptance is a choice. I can embrace or resist what’s happening. I like E. Tolle’s (Power of Now) definition of acceptance:
Here’s what I have been doing to help me move from a place of resistance to a place of acceptance with what shows up in the moment. Maybe you want to try it?
- Notice the thought.
- Breathe into the thought.
- Name the thought.
- Allow the thought. Grant it permission to be. Don’t judge it or evaluate it.
- Just picture the thought. Then imagine sitting next to it.
- Sit quietly with the thought, continuing to breathe.
- Notice if anything changes.
Often when I sit with my resistance – and I acknowledge my negative reactions, my wanting for something different, my dislike for the gap between my expectations and what is, my emotions often subside and eventually I reach a point where I begin to imagine another thought that feels more freeing or creates an opening. From there I can then imagine getting up and moving from the first thought and sitting next to the new thought. From this new place, I can often move gracefully forward and in the direction of empowered action.
Here are two wordles I created to remind me of the contrast between resistance and acceptance. Maybe you want to create your own little cloud? You can at http://www.wordle.net/ .
Quotes to Contemplate
- My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. ~Michael J. Fox
- The best way is not to fight it, just go. Don’t be trying all the time to fix things. What you run from only stays with you longer. When you fight something, you only make it stronger. ~Chuck Palahniuk
- Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it. ~Ann Landers
- I let it go. It’s like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home. ~Joanne Harris
- Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ~Lao Tzu
- By taking a breath, we accept the invitation to linger in the restful sense of just being present. Lingering in the moment – even for just a split second – can be very personal and touching. ~Michael Carroll
- Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. ~Arthur Rubinstein
- When you accept what is, Life Flows. ~Jackie Dumaine
Click on the link below to access the July calendar featuring highlights from this post.
© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Leading With Intention, 2013
Photo of a Tardiva Hydrangea by Maureen Monte (www.montephotography.com).