This post addresses how to accept things as they are. Life inevitably comes with pain and suffering. It is the reality of life, and no one person is immune. However, it is a natural reaction to try and avoid pain. Often times, when we are suffering, we want to deny our experience or reality, we want to change our reality and wish that circumstances were different. But doing so only adds to our pain and suffering.
To accept things as they are means to stop all avoidance tactics. If we experience pain in life, we must face the pain in order to move through it and move on. We must see the situation as it is and accept it for what it is.
Acceptance does not mean agreement, nor does it mean believing that things cannot be better in the future. We may not agree with the circumstances we face, but to resist, deny and fight against life as it is only creates more mental anguish.
To relieve ourselves, we must face reality. There is no other option. And once we face and accept reality as it is, we can finally release ourselves from additional suffering. We can in fact, be happier once we learn to accept life as it is.
How to Accept Things
I will provide a personal story to help clarify how to accept things. For seventeen years, one of my greatest dreams was to live in the western states. I had been living on the east coast and wanted to move across country. An opportunity finally presented itself after many years that allowed me to pursue this grand dream.
Well, one thing after another went wrong as I pursued my dream. I moved to attend graduate school in the southwest for counseling psychology, but left after a year because I decided it wasn’t the right fit for me. From there, I drove to California and next, Oregon, without a place to live or a full-time job. I looked for work for well over a year with the dream of living in CA permanently. But I had a lot of difficulty finding full-time work in my current field, or even part-time work to supplement the part-time job I had.
After also experiencing a difficult relationship and break up, I found myself unraveling mentally and emotionally. After a year plus of searching and not being able to find work, I threw in the towel and returned home to the east coast to live with my parents.
For the first ten months of my return, I was completely devastated. I had lost my greatest, long-held dream. I had also failed at pursuing a new career direction, having left graduate school. For those first ten months, I could not accept the loss and failure, I wanted to deny my reality, and as a result, I suffered even more. I was in mental anguish and became severely depressed.
How did I learn to accept things then? It took months of individual therapy, but finally I realized that this was my reality. Eventually I let go of the fact that I could not live in the west as I had hoped and dreamed. I learned to accept the fact that things did not work out as I had planned. I accepted the fact that for some reason, the universe had brought me back home, despite all of my best efforts. And I learned to accept the change in plans and career direction.
I also began to look for all the positives, rather than focusing on all the negatives – I am back with family again and all of my closest friends, and I am no longer alone. It was actually very difficult to be alone on the west coast, starting over completely by myself. I started to become grateful that I had family to rely on when I had to return home. I also paid off all of my financial debt by not having to pay high rent. By viewing all the positives, I began to feel happier and relieved of my misery.
However, initially I wanted everything to be different. Initially, I denied and resisted my reality. I had thought to myself, I will recover quickly and will return to California to continue with my dream. Well, that never happened. Initially, I was devastated to have to live with my parents as an older adult. I felt I had lost my independence, and I was miserable as a result.
Now I have accepted all, and I am a much happier person for it. I am OK with the fact that California was a bust, and I am OK with needing to move back home and live with my parents to get back on my feet again. I am OK with the fact that graduate school did not work out for me. I have adopted a more philosophical viewpoint on this life experience, meaning that I believe everything happens for a reason. I am not meant to be on the west coast, at least not at this time, and I have come to terms with this reality. I also am not meant to be a therapist, and I have come to terms with this as well.
So, in order to accept things as they are, we must embrace, not resist, our reality. And we must look for the positives in our life circumstances, no matter how difficult it may seem. As I state in my blog, today I am happier than I have ever been, despite the loss of my greatest dream.
Life always comes with ups and downs, challenges and unexpected twists and turns that interrupt or change our life plans. Once we learn to accept this aspect of life, we can begin to accept things as they are. Whether we are dealing with the loss of a job, a loved one, a home, a relationship or an unexpected and undesirable change in our life circumstances, we can be equipped with this knowledge and are better able to handle whatever challenges come our way.
And rather than thinking, “why me”, or “life is not fair to me”, or thinking that God is out to get us, we can carry the knowledge that life comes with challenges and those challenges are meant to help us grow.
I had moved to California essentially without work and without a concrete plan. I simply believed that all would naturally fall into place. Now I know that it is best to have a plan and work in place before moving across the country. So I learned a lesson.
So allow my personal story help you with acceptance of what is. Allow my story to shed light on how to accept things as they are. Once we stop resisting and fighting reality, we can in fact be much happier.
Here’s to accepting things as they are, and to your happiness!