What are your views on acceptance? Are you able to roll with the punches? Or do you wrestle for control? Do you see acceptance as a weakness? Or is it a strength? Is acceptance a blessing or a curse?
As I explore acceptance, I notice that people seem so focused on the next thing, they do not take stock of where they are. The question is always, “What next?” rather than “Where am I?” or “What is present now?” or even “What have I achieved?”. You might benefit from asking, “What is the truth of this situation?” or “What do I need to accept right now?” Before you launch into the next chapter of your life, or the next part of the project that has your attention right now, why not take some moments to take stock of where you are, what you have achieved, what the learning has been and then……………. what is next?
Acceptance is so fruitful. It gives so much information if you can accept the reality of where you are on this journey called career, relationship, parenthood, business and life itself. Acceptance does not mean that you have to like what you see, but it is the reality check you want so that you can see what needs to change and be done differently. Reality can be challenging to face. And it is not always easy to accept.
Here are some personal and client-based stories around acceptance:
For years I have held on to the mind set that I had to work alone and do everything myself. It was exhausting. There was simply too much to do and it all took too long. I was fed up with working so hard for very little movement forward. The obvious answer to this was to collaborate with others. I realised that I am better as part of a team, offering my skills for the benefit of the whole, while I benefit from others’ skills. Once I accepted the reality that I struggled alone, it was easy to recognise that collaboration was the answer.
But what did that look like? More acceptance work, as I fumbled around looking for my ideal collaborative co-creators. I made some mistakes that I had to accept and learn from, so that I could find better collaborators. A few years in now, and I am collaborating with people who are a great fit. What we co-create is wonderful, and just as importantly, the enjoyment of our co-creation is a delight. Collaboration has to be joyful. Things are meant to be joyful. If you can take a look at reality and accept whether what you are doing is joyful or not, it tells you whether changes need to be made. Accept the truth of reality and move on.
So, acceptance is essential. Without it, you walk in cloud-cuckoo land. But once you accept, action is the next step. There is no point in taking action without looking at where you really are. Without that reality check, you do not have your feet on the ground. You can take all the action you want, but you will get nowhere. You’ll get very tired, use a lot of energy and waste time, but you won’t move forward. Accepting your reality allows you to grow forward into who you are going to become. Acceptance is essential on your journey of becoming.
Acceptance and Self-Limiting Beliefs
But just because you accept, does not mean you will move forward. You might accept limitations that hold you back and prevent your growth. Or you might stick your head in the sand and refuse to act on what is before you. We call these self-limiting beliefs in life coaching. You might hold the belief that things cannot be different, or ask, “Who am I to change things?”
Employed to Self-employed
Self-limiting beliefs show up all the time in life coaching. One client example was a young man who believed that he was only employable in the advertising sector. When he was made redundant, during the recession in the early 2000s, he frantically looked for roles in that industry even though he was not happy in that work. We discussed this and identified areas that he would like to explore as possible new career pathways. After a little trial and error, he found a business concept that really made him fly. And he could use the advertising skills he loved to promote the business venture.
Agency and Self-Authority
A personal example is a long-standing self-limiting belief around agency and self-authority. A childhood belief I accepted was that I give up what I want for others and not make a stand for what I want. That belief was so ingrained that I came to adulthood without much sense of what I wanted and certainly not the spine to go out into the world and get what I wanted. I was too scared to ask myself the question, “What do I want?” So, I had a lovely life riding on the coat tails of others. Doing what they wanted for me.
Until I realised what was going on. Accepting that was like a bomb shell. It met with a lot of resistance and still does. The first thing I did when I noticed this pattern was ask myself the question, “What do I want right now?”. The answer was a beautiful climber to walk past and enjoy the sweet fragrance for myself and others.
So, I bought a Jasmine plant and placed it by our back door. In four years, it has taken over the wall opposite the entrance to the house. The smell of the flowers is intoxicating in early summer. Every day I go out through that door, and enjoy the beautiful smells of Jasmine, which remind me that I have authority over my life and that I can choose what I want. In fact, I am the only person responsible for my happiness and fulfilment. It is a good reminder.
One of the jobs of a coach is to stop you from sticking your head in the sand about an area in your life that is important to you. A client took me on. She was married to her business. It took up all her time. She hired me to get her life-work balance in harmony.
The pattern of working at the expense of her private life was so ingrained, it took some time to expose the reality of her situation. She kept getting caught up with what she wanted, rather than taking stock and accepting the reality. We cut back to the harsh reality, took stock of the cost to her emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. She identified what she truly wanted and the risks she would take to achieve those dreams. Acceptance was the first step towards breaking those self-limiting beliefs and taking action effectively and in a meaningful way.
Acceptance and Freedom
And then there is accepting circumstances as they are. As I have explained previously, I have a weak left shoulder. For many years in martial arts, I struggled to overcome this weakness but to no avail. Finally, I had to accept that in that regard I was not on a parallel with my peers. I had many other skills in which I excelled, but not in this area. So, I accepted the limitation and worked around it, creating forms that worked to my strengths. It was liberating to work with this new-found freedom that acceptance had given me.
Alternatively, you might decide not to accept things. You might be so concerned about what you will find there if you look that you distract yourself with being busy without addressing the issue. Or, in seeing reality, you might feel so strongly that you are inspired to take action and become a change maker.
Behaviours such as over eating or under eating, excessive alcohol consumption, over exercise, sex, gambling, recreational drugs, over work and gaming can all be strategies to distract you from looking at this issue you do not want to look at. You may not be ready to look and that is OK. When the time is right you will take the step.
I have stopped working with clients because they came to coaching for a particular reason. But when it came to looking honestly at the situation, they could not bring themselves to take honest inventory. The time wasn’t right. And that is valuable information as well. It is a kind of acceptance, which can be the most compassionate step. I leave it with them that when the time feels right, we can resume.
Or, you might be ready for change. Accepting the reality comes first and then you can take action because you do not accept that things will stay the same. Like my example of working alone or my client’s career change, these were conscious decisions made because a more fulfilling life could be glimpsed. Life is full of these opportunities to make a stand and create something new from this place of acceptance. It is the road forward to an ever more fulfilling life. Acceptance is the key. Change and transformation the result.
Over to You
What role has acceptance played in your life? Do you accept habitually? Or is your habit not to accept? How has acceptance served you? Would you say that acceptance is a blessing or a curse? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please comment below. You might prefer to send me an e-mail. If so, I’d be delighted to receive a message from you in my inbox instead.
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