All your childhood dreams are fulfilled, you are living your perfect life just as you always imagined it would be, hitting every benchmark and milestone you set for yourself. Everyone you love and care about is alive and healthy, you have an incredible group of lifelong friends who have shared all your joyful triumphs. You wake every morning with anticipation of what a glorious day it will be and how fulfilled you will feel when you return home from work at the end of the day.
Ok, so confession, I wouldn’t actually know what it’s like when life goes to plan, my life looks nothing like that, with the exception of the incredible group of friends, even that sentence isn’t completely correct, for me, some are lifelong, many are newer and they have not only shared my highs, but also my lows.
I am curious to know if there are people out there for whom this is their experience, I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume not.
Very little in my life has gone to plan, but, for I am also acutely aware, my personal struggles pale into insignificance against most people in the world, I lead a very privileged existence. But the reality is, in my context of a white, middle class female, living in the lucky country, I have still faced adversity, some might say, more than my fair share.
I would be interested to meet the person who hasn’t had to overcome a hurdle or two, for I also believe it is through needing to deal with the difficulties in our lives that we grow the most as humans. Just as it takes the most extreme conditions to produce a diamond, I also believe we are shaped by our challenges rather than an easy path through life. Unfortunately, not everyone who goes through hard times grows, it is our choice to face problems and learn the lessons that are meant as our curriculum or be broken by them.
I remember speaking through tears with a work friend many years ago about how I wished my children didn’t have to deal with some of the things they did and she talked to me about what amazing compassionate well-rounded humans they were being shaped into, through the challenges. At the time, I didn’t care, I just wanted things to be easier for them, I am their mother, I love them, I didn’t want life to be hard. But she was right, my daughters are incredible young women who all have a heightened sense of social justice, fairness and compassion. Those early challenges equipped them to deal with the greater challenges that have come their way, in the years since.
I have been learning about the concept of radical acceptance and am interested in the theory of just being at peace with everything. To not push back, struggle through or play the “what if” game over and over, which I am very skilled at, having played it many times over the years!
Instead radical acceptance teaches the concept exactly as it sounds, just accepting what is, here and now. This is not used in the context of fighting for what is right and just, that is a different thing altogether. Radical acceptance just speaks to releasing the need to replay in our heads, how things could have been different, if only I’d or they had… fill in the blank.
That “things are neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so” as Shakespeare wrote. It is allowing things to just be, without the need to push, fight, resist, change or hook into it.
Self reflection is useful, learning from past mistakes so as to not repeat them, using the life lessons for growth, as previously mentioned, but there comes a time when that reflection is no longer helpful and it can end up playing as a loop, on repeat, with no new insights popping out. Instead it ends up being the broken record, replaying the same sound track, keeping us stuck.
Acceptance gives permission to, move forward, with the lessons, growth and understanding, with peace. To accept things just are and be okay with that. Have I mastered this new skill, not even close, but it is definitely one I want in my toolkit, so will continue to practice.
“Pain can change you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad change. Take that pain and turn it into wisdom” The Dalai Lama