Each and every one of us will find ourselves in a situation where we are in extreme resistance to what is. When this occurs, it feels like we are at war with what is. There is a constant tension in our being. There is a constant attempt to make what is, un-be. And to make what has happened, un-happen. We may resist and fight what is for years, yet fail to make it different than it is and, in the end, end up feeling desperate. And also feeling completely stuck. But all this can be changed by doing one very difficult thing: Accept what needs to be accepted.
When it feels like you are at war with what is, you are not accepting something. The question is: What are you not accepting?
People often think that to accept something means to like something, to approve of it, to agree with it, to put up with it, to be easygoing about it and/or to tolerate it. But this is not acceptance. To accept something simply means that instead of pushing against something, you recognize it as real, valid or true. When this happens, instead of resisting it, you let that reality sink in. The power is then in your hands regarding what to do about it. To accept something, is to recognize that it is real, valid and true and to recognize that you can’t change the fact that it is real, valid or true. And once that reality has sunk in, it is in your hands to decide what to do about what is real, valid and true.
So that you can understand this better, here are two examples: Justin fell madly in love with Maren six years ago. They got married after knowing each other for six months and they had two children back-to-back almost immediately once they were married. Maren acts as if she is miserable in their life together. She is almost always furious when he comes home from work. Often, Justin comes home to find that Maren has simply put the kids in front of the TV for hours, while she does other things that she wants to do, like flip through fashion magazines and talk to friends on the phone and even, go out to the store, leaving the toddlers unattended. One year, they had already been to the hospital three times come march. Once because one of the kids nearly drowned in a friend’s pool, the other because the same kid ate an entire bottle of gummy vitamins, and the other because the other kid developed a very severe diaper rash. All of these injuries were because of Maren not keeping an eye on the kids. Because these three visits happened so close together, it caused the doctors to suspect neglect, so they brought in a social worker to speak to them.
Justin is understandably furious. They fight all the time. He makes it known in these fights that he feels Maren is not a good enough mother to the kids. He now calls to check up on them multiple times throughout the day. And she has started going to therapy. The problem is, in therapy, Maren has realized that due to their religious upbringing, she simply had kids because “it’s what every woman should do when they get married.” She didn’t actually want kids. She didn’t even know it was an option not to.
But when she explains this to Justin, he won’t hear it. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t want kids, she has them. She’s a mom now. Period the end and so it’s her job now to figure out how to be a good one. Justin goes to war with what is. He takes her to church enthusiastically every Sunday, hoping that she will see the light about the importance of motherhood. He enrolls her in parenting classes and buys her parenting books. He makes lists of things she can do with the kids during the day. He brings her to spend time around one of his friend’s wives, who loves mothering, hoping that this other woman will rub off on Maren. Nothing is working. Justin is at war with what is. He is in total resistance to reality. What is it that Justin is not accepting? He is not accepting that Maren does not want to be a mother. And he is also not accepting that it doesn’t matter what he thinks is right, she will not discipline herself for the next 16 years against her own desires and against her own happiness to be a good mother anyway, because of a sense of moral obligation. Justin is trying to get something that is unworkable to be workable.
Justin finally realizing what he is not accepting, and finally accepting it, is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. But once he does, all his futile efforts stop. He realizes that any change he makes to the situation, must accommodate for this truth. Instead of spend the rest of his life trying to get Maren to be a good mother, he decides he has a few options. One is to involve his own mother or Maren’s mother in the childcare on a daily basis. One is to put his kids in daycare. One is to flip roles with Maren, so she is the one working and he is the one at home with the kids. One is to divorce her and to take full custody of the children and look for a good step mother for the kids. Though all of these options are not what he would have hoped, they all would bring some kind of much needed forward movement that was impossible to bring about the way he was trying to bring it about before.
Because what Justin has always wanted, is a life where he works and his wife (who loves being a mother) is home with the kids, Justin decides that he is going to get a divorce. And he persuades Maren to give him full custody. He promises her that she can arrange to spend supervised time with the kids whenever she asks. And he sets out to find a new wife and mother for his kids and for the kids he plans to have in the future.
Briggs has a habit of agreeing to do things and cancelling last minute, or just not showing up. For years, people have been getting really mad about it. In his social circles, he feels the tension of everyone resenting and not respecting him. And no one dates him for longer than a month because of his tendency to do this. The bottom line is, he is flaky. And he always has an excuse for why he was flaky.
But he can’t seem to stop the behavior no matter what he does. He attends motivational seminars about responsibility and masculinity. He does shadow work to find out why he is doing it, in the hopes that doing so, might cause him to stop. Through this process, he discovers that if he makes future plans, he never knows how he is going to feel on that day, or at that time. And he can’t stand the feeling of forcing himself to do something, despite feeling like he would rather do something else at that time. He has trauma around being forced to do the things his mother decided he would do, despite how he felt. But Briggs is at war with this aspect of himself. He does everything he can think of to change it. But nothing works. He can’t discipline himself.
Briggs is at war with what is. He is in resistance to the truth of himself. Despite all his effort, Briggs hasn’t actually fully accepted that he is flaky, as you can see because he always has an excuse for why he doesn’t follow through on plans. He also hasn’t accepted that he doesn’t want to be reliable and he doesn’t want to have to follow through on plans he made, when doing so would feel worse than doing something else. Briggs just keeps on trying to change something he doesn’t actually want to change about himself. All he really wants to have change, is the way people act towards him. And he feels the only way to do that, is to show up, even if he doesn’t feel like it.
Briggs finally realizing what he is not accepting, and finally accepting it, is both scary and relieving. But once he does, all his futile efforts stop. He realizes that any change he makes to the situation, must accommodate for the fact that he doesn’t actually want to have to follow through on plans he made, when doing so would feel worse than doing something else. He realizes that accepting this truth about himself, means that he will have to change the way he does things with people. Instead of try to force himself to follow through, he decides to stop guaranteeing that he will show up somewhere when he is invited. He decides he wants to live according to his value of spontaneity according to how he feels, rather than plan out his days or his weeks. He thinks this would actually be healing. He lets friends who can’t handle this drift away, and keeps friends who don’t seem to depend on him regarding what he is doing or not doing and whom are fine to spend time together whenever the stars align. He uses shadow work to face and resolve his resistance to the consequences of making this choice, after all, there are some things you can’t do and can’t have if you can’t follow through on commitments. Though there are some downsides to accepting this truth about himself and making changes accordingly, he feels so much relief. He is no longer trying to “effort” himself against himself to do what he doesn’t want to do. And his life has improved. He says he feels “in the flow” now. He doesn’t know whether he might change his mind about committing to following through with things in the future, he feels what he is doing is very healing for him right now.
There is always a reason why we don’t want to accept something. We are convinced that accepting that thing will bring about something unwanted or put us face to face with something we feel we can’t handle. For example, using our previous examples, subconsciously Justin was refusing to accept that Maren didn’t want kids, because to him it would mean that the way he felt for her was not an indication that it would all work out, and that means, he can’t trust the way he feels towards a woman. Also, he thinks it would mean that he made the wrong choices in his life. And it would cause him to come face to face with the very thing he vowed for his whole life to never do… divorce. And it meant that despite all his efforts, his kids would have emotional problems no matter what in life, because of their difficult relationship with Maren and he could do nothing to prevent it. And it meant the dream he had built for their life together, would go up in smoke. Justin didn’t feel like he could deal with the emotions that experience would bring up within him.
And subconsciously, Briggs was refusing to accept that he is flaky and accept that the root of his flakiness is that he doesn’t want to be reliable and he doesn’t want to have to follow through on plans he made, when doing so would feel worse than doing something else. He was doing this because to him, it meant that he is all the things that people think about him when he flakes on them. That he is pathetic, immature, weak and lacks discipline. Also, he would have to face and choose and own the consequences of not following through on plans. One of these things being the loss of certain friends. And another being that he would have to find a way to make money on his own time, rather than stepping into a prestigious job where he is required to show up on a schedule. And with this, came facing the disapproval of his status- oriented mother.
Accepting what is, is not easy. Especially when it comes to accepting whatever it is that we are not accepting. In fact, it can be one of the most painful things we ever experience. When you won't accept something, it is because of what it would mean and what you don't trust yourself to be able to face and deal with. Which is why it is so important to ask yourself “If I were to accept (fill in the blank with something you’re terrified to accept) why would that be so bad, or what would it mean?”
Even though it is so hard to do, accepting the thing that you are not accepting is the game changer you are looking for. Despite how bad it hurts; it will get you un-stuck. It will change what you decide to do. It will make it so that any action you take, is so squarely in reality, that it will bring about actual results and actual movement towards improvement.
In any given situation, there may be one big thing you are not accepting, or there may be multiple things you aren’t accepting. Usually, you know in your heart what it is that you aren’t accepting. It’s the reality that you keep trying to push down and reject and deny and change and talk yourself out of and avoid and disprove. It’s the thing you don’t want to have be the reality, even though it keeps haunting you from the inside. But it is always an option if you can’t put your finger on what you aren’t accepting, to involve other experts and/or other friends. And to ask them what it is that they think or feel like you are not accepting.
Staying stuck in pain because of what you are not accepting, is a terrible way to spend your life. For this reason, you would benefit by watching five of my other videos in addition to this one. The first being “Reality”. The second being “Why You Should Know and Accept the Truth, Even if it Hurts”. The third being “The Truth About Accepting Someone for Who They Are”. The fourth being “Are You Pushing Against the Past?” And the fifth being “The Secret to Overcoming Your Problems” which is about the process of exaltation.
I’m going to finish this article by saying it again, when it feels like you are at war with what is, you are not accepting something. The question for you to ask yourself is: What am I not accepting?