The price we pay for overloaded schedules, stress, dysfunctional relationships and too many unfulfilled dreams and goals is our emotional freedom.
While becoming more aware of your feelings and emotions will surely serve to spark the desire for meaningful change, the key to reclaiming your emotional freedom is acceptance.
Acceptance is highly underrated as a growth and recovery strategy, in large part because it’s so often confused with resignation. While both terms fundamentally involve accepting the reality of a situation, resignation is giving up because you believe there’s no other choice. It’s sad and heavy and feels like settling for less – less joy, less confidence, less self-respect.
On the other hand, acceptance can feel like a new beginning because it is proactive and empowering. It’s letting go of what was, acknowledging what is, and getting busy actively creating a better future, even if it means a vastly different future than the one you once planned for yourself.
You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. ~Marianne Williamson
Acceptance is …
- The ability to be truly honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Think of this as your benchmark – a starting point from which to grow.
- Admitting you failed, made the wrong choice, or flat out screwed up. It’s coming to terms with where you are now, what needs to be done to make amends, and deciding on a course of action to move on and make better choices in the future.
- Recognizing that someone close to you has a behavior problem (Fill in the blank: substance abuse, physical abuse, eating disorder, etc.). While you accept this about them, you determine that you’re not going to allow their problem to become your own and you are not going to enable their behavior. It’s also accepting that the process may lead you to determine that ending the relationship is your best option.
- Coming to terms with the reality that your life will be irrevocably changed as the result of a physical injury or debilitating health condition. It’s also believing you can still live a full and rewarding life; just a different life than you originally planned.
A personal example …
I rarely write about things I haven’t experienced firsthand, and acceptance is right up there at the top of the list. I’ll give you just one example.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with a rare degenerative eye disease for which there was no known cure and that would result in the complete loss of my eyesight – sooner rather than later. While I accepted the reality and severity of my situation, by no means did I throw a pity party or resign myself to the eventual worst case scenario.
Instead, I got to work researching the disease along with every available option, including experimental drugs and procedures. At the same time, I took a serious look at my living arrangements and options available to me to learn new skills that would enable me to continue living independently in the event that I did lose my sight. You see while I accepted the circumstances, I also trusted that somehow I would find a way to push through the crisis, even if it meant learning to thrive in a future without sight.
Fast forward, we not only located a specialist who was conducting experimental surgery on similar types of conditions, but he was based in a hospital nearby on the Island of Oahu. I flew over for a meeting and eventually he agreed to take my case – no guarantees – and beyond the surgery it meant months of flying back and forth from Maui to Oahu for testing and additional treatments, but it was a chance and that’s all I needed.
Now I go into this story in more detail in my book Resilient Living but I will tell you that the surgery was a huge success … but it could just as easily have gone the other way. The most important point is that I would never have had a chance to turn things around had I resigned myself to fate.
Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. J.K. Rowling
Acceptance and trusting that things will work out don’t guarantee that everything will turn out the way you want it to, but it’s certainly better than the alternative because when you don’t trust, everything becomes more difficult. You fight, resist and hang on for dear life, which only serves to reinforce the insecurity that comes from lack of trust. It’s a vicious, exhausting cycle. But when you honestly accept your circumstances and genuinely believe that YOU will be okay no matter what happens, letting go becomes much easier and it’s at this point you are far better able to see all the possibilities available to you.
There is no question that it takes inner strength to master acceptance and to let go of how you think things should be or how you wish they were. In fact, acceptance may be the hardest and bravest thing you will ever do, but then emotional freedom is a pretty big payoff for the effort!
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.