Upon one occasion, I spilled my words and thoughts to her. I don't recall what I said but no doubt the subject was mainly about my pain. The counselor looked at me calmly yet intensely and said, "Jennifer, you need to accept your life."
What? I gasped, stunned. And in that moment I could hear consciously what all of my cells had been screaming at me unconsciously for years. My life is absolutely unacceptable!!!!!
That was the "truth" I had been operating from. I had started my adult life full of dreams and hopes. Since these hadn't materialized, I felt as though I was living a wrong life. Only my dream life was acceptable. All other lives, including the one I had, were not acceptable. Wasn't I supposed to believe that? Wasn't I supposed to have an eye of examination on myself and my life at all times to see what was wrong (unacceptable) so that I could fix it and set goals and repent and improve and change and do something different and bring my dreams into reality?
(Just writing that last sentence was exhausting . . .)
Accepting my life just the way it was (in all its brokenness) and accepting myself (in all my weakness) sounded like the exact opposite of anything I wanted or needed to do. The only reason I considered it was because of the deep respect I had for the counselor. I trusted her guidance. The counselor let me know that I could continue to make new choices to create my life but that these choices needed to come from a place of (first!) acceptance for what was.
So I left the counseling office wondering how I would learn to live the impossible: acceptance.
To this day, accepting whatever life I am in is still something on which I need to be often reminded. It's not my natural condition. Whenever I find myself struggling I ask myself if I could use the relief of acceptance.
Here are some ideas that helped me and that I practice. I believe they will also help you experience the release and peace of acceptance.
Acceptance comes after grief. Acceptance is the final stage of the grief process. When I left the counseling office, I could not move instantly into acceptance. I had to start crying and mourning for what I had lost and what I was losing-my perfect dream life, my idea of a perfect self. But I was aware now that I needed to grieve. Before, I had been unconscious about my lack of acceptance. I had been bruising myself by knocking fruitlessly and frustrated against a (seemingly) closed universe.
Live in the now. There is only now (time). There is only here (space). I learned to bring my mind and my energy back from the past and from the future where I was stuck. So much energy was draining from me to these imaginary places. Only the now is real. I started looking out of my eyes at what really was the case, instead of being attached to pains and imaginations of the past and future. I started feeling safer because I realized the unsafe past wasn't really there except what I was requiring myself to carry in my mind. I started feeling relief because I didn't have to tack the future down to the last detail. The future wasn't all on me. I could trust the universe that what was good for me would unfold. I could simply be alive and act in the now.
Life is messy. I changed my belief and perception. I once thought that the chaos of life was a sign that things were going horribly wrong (and that I was wrong). I started to understand and chose to believe that the mess of life meant that things were miraculously right. I was breathing! I was human. Being human was precious precisely because of the mess. Also, as a human, I wanted to get to my dreams by walking serenely on the paved roads, so to speak. I started to see that the universe often preferred a crazy-ass jungle, swamp and mountain trek (so to speak). Yet I always ended up where I needed to be often in shorter time, more directly, and carrying greater gifts than I had originally imagined (if I could just hold on for the ride! ha ha).
So if you are anything like me and you feel that your life is unacceptable, I invite you to give yourself permission to let that go. Accept your self and accept your life. You are acceptable just as you are in this moment.