So, for those reasons, I am committing to practicing Radical Acceptance - an approach that has gotten me through other very trying times in my life when I had limited control over a situation. It's important to point out that acceptance is not approval – it doesn't mean that:
- I will ultimately like or agree with what's happening
- I would, deep down, chose for it to be as it is
- I don't have hope that things can be different
Instead, it means that I am choosing to make space for the thoughts and emotions that are coming up around it, acknowledging that living in such an uncertain time in the world is challenging and potentially upsetting, and then shifting my attention to things over which I actually have some degree of control. I am acknowledging that what I, on a personal level, hope will happen may not be what the world, in a global sense, ultimately needs to happen. And while that is a tough pill to swallow, it’s an important realization to have.
It's interesting that it is our natural human tendency to focus on what is wrong, bad, unfair, shocking, etc. That's helpful when it's acting as an actual protective mechanism, but not so helpful in day to day life. It’s important to choose wisely what and to whom you give your attention because we strengthen and energize what we focus on.
So what does it come down to? Be the change you want to see in the world. It is as simple as that. Make a conscious choice to stop focusing so much on that which is beyond your control and instead, put the focus on you - on becoming what you ultimately want the world to be. Focus on becoming loving, kind, and joyful - on becoming awake, aware, and connected. Embrace and champion what you want instead of fighting against what you don't want.
Acceptance does not mean being weak or "giving in". It is actually powerful in that in allows you to harness your energy to make a difference in the world, instead of using it to complain or argue against what is. People often say, “I can’t stand this,” “This isn’t fair,” “This can’t be true,” and “It shouldn’t be this way.” It’s almost as if we think refusing to accept the truth will keep it from being true, or that accepting means agreeing.
Acceptance does not mean agreeing or not moving forward with change if that is possible or preferable. It is acknowledging the reality of what is happening, accepting that it is not within your control, and refocusing on what matters to you. In that way, you can take action in ways that nourish and enrich your life and the lives of the people around you. Again, we need to stop focusing on what we don't want, which is only adding fuel to the fire.
On a personal level, I would rather save my energy and invest it in creating within myself what I hope to see more of in the world around me. I choose to invest my energy in the people I love, in being a good facilitator to help my clients make positive change, in practicing gratitude for this life, and in continuing to learn, grow, and evolve.
We really do have a choice, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. It may initially feel counterproductive to practice acceptance, but the peace of mind that ultimately results is worth navigating through those initial uncomfortable thoughts and emotions that may come up. And the energy that is freed up can help to create the life you want to be living.
The world will do what the world will do. The question is, what will you do?
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Bobbi Beuree, Certified CAN Coach + Facilitator is located in Halifax, NS, and provides interactive 1:1 coaching services, as well as corporate workshops.