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The Value of Acceptance

What does it mean to have a “good relationship” to a life circumstance that challenges (or even hurt) you?

No healing, transformational, spiritual modality I know of can make the road of life bump-free and without challenging circumstances. There are things that may build up or smooth the bumpiness of the ride, but I have yet to discover how to get rids of the bumps altogether. 

What you CAN change, and what DOES make the ride more satisfying (and even fun), is developing a positive relationship to the bumps.

Developing a positive, or good, relationship to something (or someone) doesn’t necessarily mean having warm, fuzzy feelings towards it. As a relatively minor example, I recently broke my favorite dish that had been passed down from my grandma. 

That hurt (it still hurts!) I felt disappointed, sad, and aggravated by my own clumsiness. It is a loss. Working towards a positive relationship with this unfortunate circumstance doesn’t take any of the feelings away. The work is to find a way to relate to my loss, and my thoughts or feelings about the loss, in a way that ultimately nourishes me instead of depleting me. 

There is not one outward, universally accepted “good” response to anything. This is not about getting it “right.” What matters is if you are being intentional about leaning into your growth edge. And only you can know what your growth areas are and if you are leaning into them at any given moment. 

When my beloved dish crashed to the floor I got visibly upset. I shed some tears. I might have used some strong language. But I let the feelings flow through me and took full and loving responsibility for them. The broken dish and all my feelings were not about what anyone else did or did not say/do. I didn’t make myself bad or wrong even when there was a mess on the floor and a mess of emotions inside me. For me, this is a win and a step towards being in positive relationship with the story of my grandma’s (now) broken dish. 

It would likely be different for you. Maybe, given the same situation, your growth area would have been to notice something wise and supportive about your overall relationship to loss. Maybe you would have grown yourself a little bit by intentionally finding other ways to honor your grandma instead of getting mired in the sad feelings. Maybe you would initiate some community venue to house family heirlooms. There are many ways to begin developing a good relationship to life’s bumps. 

“Developing” a good relationship to challenging circumstances (ie. a way of relating to the circumstance so that it nourishes you) is a process that occurs over time. Actively engaging in that process and all it brings you is an act of acceptance, and one of the best ways I know to reduce the exhaustion and suffering that comes from carting around disempowering, burdensome energy.   

If you are wondering how to harvest some learning and growth from your own difficult situation, here are a few helpful questions to consider:

  • What might there be for me to learn from this?
  • What is the predictable reaction or pattern given the circumstance? Is that what I want to choose again?
  • What perspective or stance brings me the most possibility and growth?
  • What is next for me?

Of course, a broken dish can be the very least of one’s challenges. And the more vulnerable, out-of-control, and triggering the bump in your road, the more important the work is for you and your future.  

Big bumps, little bumps… bumps are part of the life journey. We can relate to them as evidence for whatever we want to be true. What do you want to be true inside you and in your life?