Sh*t happens. Call it life…or life life-ing. Or dub it experiences or situations. The only thing that matters is how you deal with what happens to you. And the thing that makes the most significant difference in how you do that is whether or not you can accept your circumstances.
Believe me when I say, “I know this to be true.”
Life Lifed in 2023
I’ve had my ability to accept my circumstances tested in the last year…BIG time. Life really lifed in 2023.
My mother died in January. We sold her house that same month—the one I grew up in, and it was demolished six months later. In June, I fell and dislocated my shoulder. That was followed by a back sprain that lasted three months. Right after that, I contracted shingles…on the same shoulder and arm I dislocated a month earlier. Then, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and my sister had a pineal tumor that put her in the hospital for a month. My other sister got a terrible infection in her thumb. My 31-year-old daughter found out she needed hip surgery. My husband had to have a heart ablation. The dog ended up in the ER vet clinic overnight and might have a disease related to her cortisol. And then…if all of that was not enough…I broke my ankle.
That’s a lot of piles of doo-doo, if you ask me. But it hardly phased me because I accepted each and every situation.
I didn’t fight against it or get super upset. I didn’t let my negative mental chatter go crazy, and I didn’t act out or end up depressed or feeling sorry for myself. Nor did I let it stop me from doing the things that were important to me. And I didn’t try to fix it all.
Of course, I grieved my mother’s death and the house she and I loved so much. I also worried about my sisters, daughter, and husband a little…but not much.
Why? Because I accepted all of this.
Non-acceptance is an Option
My only other option was to not accept these circumstances. That would have meant being angry, upset, depressed, worried, stressed, overwhelmed, lashing out, or blaming—basically feeling and expressing negative emotions.
None of that would have done me any good. In fact, it would have made the situation much worse. I mean, just imagine spending four to eight weeks (or six months) being angry, blaming, depressed, and lashing out at everyone around you.
That’s not a pretty picture, is it…for you or for those around you?
Acceptance is a better option, in my humble opinion—unless, of course, you can change your circumstances. In that case, change represents the best option. But you’ll still be happier accepting until you can change what you don’t like.
What is Acceptance?
But what does “acceptance” really mean? You need to understand the word to put it into practice.
“To accept” means “to endure without protest or reaction.” And to be “accepting” means “able or willing to accept something or someone.” Simply put, when you allow your conditions or circumstances to be what they are without pushing against them, you accept them. And when you don’t protest or become reactive because of your situation, you are accepting.
I disagree with one definition that claims acceptance means “regarding different types of people and ways of life with tolerance and acceptance.” Tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
Let me explain…
Tolerance is “the capacity to endure continued subjugation to something without adverse reaction.” I don’t believe you can tolerate something without an adverse reaction. When you tolerate something or someone, you end up angry and resentful because you are not accepting.
That’s why you want to accept rather than tolerate. I tried tolerating things like work I didn’t enjoy, a marriage that wasn’t working, and friends who brought me down rather than raised me up. All that did was make me supremely unhappy.
But if you know someone or something won’t change, you have the choice to accept rather than tolerate.
Tolerating my broken ankle will make me miserable fast. Why? I’ll constantly be focused on how I wish the situation were different. I’ll focus on what I can’t do rather than what I can.
Accepting my broken ankle allows me to be happy despite my circumstances. I know there’s not much I can do about it, so I focus on other things.
What Do You Need to Accept?
Look at your life. What circumstances, situations, or people do you wish would change? What or who do you continually find yourself thinking about and getting upset about because you want it or them to be different?
Now, consider how you react—rather than respond—to these people or situations. Are you angry? Do you blame? How often do you feel sad or point a finger at someone or situation and claim your problems are their fault? And do you hear yourself saying, “If only it or they were different, I’d be happy or successful”?
Those reactions and thoughts are telltale signs you are tolerating. And tolerance does not involve any aspect of acceptance.
Decide to Accept
That means you need to decide if you can accept the circumstances in which you find yourself. If you can’t, you resign yourself to being miserable.
On the other hand, if you accept your situation or people, you free yourself to stop focusing on how you wish things or people were different. Then you can put your attention on things that make you happy.
What do you choose?
I am sure you don’t want to be unhappy. So, your choice seems pretty straightforward. Decide to accept your circumstances.
That one decision has made all the difference in my life…and last year.
Are you able to accept your circumstances or other people? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
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Photo courtesy of michalludwiczak.