My son is starting 4 year old kindergarten in just 3 weeks. I’m feeling a mixture of pride, excitement and trepidation. He seems so ready but at the same time he’s still so little. After 4 and a half years of being with me nearly all the time, he’s off into the world on his own (ok, maybe not the world, but it sure feels like that’s what’s happening).
It’s the end of a beautiful season of our lives, where my main focus was him and his main focus was me. The large age gap between him and his siblings means he’s been fortunate to not have to share too much of my attention. I never doubted my choice to walk away from a corporate career that I loved and had worked very hard at building for 15 years. And while it’s been challenging and stressful at times, overall, I’ve enjoyed the last few years more than I had expected I would.
But, this choice has come with sacrifices that I know you’ll be able to relate to. Other areas of my life have been put on the back burner. I’ve been very lucky to be able to work a little, where it has fit around caring for my son. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to start my own little corner of the internet and this amazing journey of supporting and encouraging mums. However, outside of mothering, the other areas of my life have felt very SLOW over the last 4 years. Or, perhaps, nearly non-existent for the first year, and then in slow motion for the next 3 years. My exercise routine has been reduced, my time for hobbies has been minimal (lucky I love my work!) and I haven’t moved my business forward as fast as I would have liked.
Sometimes, it feels frustrating. It certainly doesn’t feel good when I miss my self-imposed deadline yet again. I feel sad when I look at the pile of books I’ve bought with the best intentions.
I could beat myself up for not achieving my goals and feel like a victim of my circumstances. I could give up running a business during motherhood. And I could feel guilty about all the things I’m not doing or blame my son for needing so much of me.
Or, I could accept that this is what the current season of life has required. That, by allowing other areas of my life to move slowly, I have invested deeply into my son and our family. I could accept that there is a season for everything and that there will be a season for me to move at a faster pace. That I am exactly where I need to be right now, and that I made the decision to do this wholeheartedly and intuitively. I can also accept that it feels frustrating at times and simultaneously choose to find joy in the current season.
I choose to accept things as they are.
If you don’t accept things as they are, you’ll get stuck
Have you ever had a moment where you realised that your refusal to accept things as they are, was keeping you stuck?
Stuck in guilt and regret.
Worry or anxiousness.
Replaying the situation over and over in your mind.
Beating yourself up.
Feeling like a victim.
Feeling hopeless or like giving up.
When you feel like this, it’s so hard to find the motivation, the clarity or the energy to do anything that will help you move forward.
You see, resisting things and wishing they were different doesn’t change them. If someone has hurt you, it won’t reverse that hurt. If you haven’t met your exercise goal, beating yourself up about it won’t make you fit. If you refuse to accept the fact that you’re overwhelmed and need help, you won’t get the help you need.
When we fight against reality, what we are doing is making it harder for us to cope with the situation and our emotions. And it won’t go away, because what you resist, persists.
Why it’s in your best interests to accept things as they are
For over 10 years now, I’ve been learning how to accept things as they are. Big and small. From accepting that I’m going to be late to go somewhere, to accepting that my first marriage had to end.
When I accept things as they are, I feel happier and more at peace. I also have more self-compassion and experience less guilt and stress. I can see things more clearly, be authentic and wholehearted, and make choices based on reality. I believe it also positively impacts my relationships, by eliminating barriers and distractions.
Acceptance is the foundation on which to build something new, or push through challenges. Options start to appear. Acceptance frees you to focus on doing the things you can do to change your situation, rather than investing all your energy and attention in resisting.
When you accept things as you are, you accept:
- How you feel
- The past
- The unknown
- What you can and can’t control
- Your imperfection and fears
- Your mistakes
- Your circumstances
- The things that you’re trying to avoid or ignore (you don’t have to deal with them right now if you don’t want to, but you can still accept them)
- Other people, as they are and where they are at.
Sometimes we can’t see why things happen and we can’t see the positives until after the fact. The “negative” things in life add to us, help us grow and help us understand and help others. We can actually move through our negative thoughts and emotions quicker if we accept and embrace them. Rather than pushing them underground or ignoring them, we release them and move forward.
Acceptance isn’t giving up or settling for less
Some people think that accepting things as they are is giving up or settling for less. Resigning yourself to the status quo. But, lovely, this is not true! Acceptance isn’t weak or passive. It’s empowering.
Even when you are deeply unsatisfied with your current situation, accepting it as it is, allows you to move on and create something better. You don’t have to like, agree or approve of it. Accepting things as they are doesn’t minimise the impact or the importance.
Acceptance is acknowledging the truth, even when you want things to be different.
By finding peace in the current situation, you can stop dealing with all the negative emotions and thoughts, and reallocate that mental and emotional capacity to moving forward.
Here are some examples from my own life:
When my son stopped napping altogether, I struggled to accept it. I resisted like crazy, I was cranky and I tried to force him to sleep. You won’t be surprised to hear that this didn’t work at all. When I realised how ridiculous I was being, I finally accepted it and we found a new rhythm that made us both happy.
When my first marriage was on it’s last legs, I kept on trying and trying, refusing to accept that enough was enough. When I finally gave myself permission to see the truth about the situation and accepted it, I was able to move on, to so much happiness.
When we started the IVF process to conceive my son, I could have dwelt on the fact that I am incredibly scared of needles, but I knew that this was going to cause me to be stuck in anxiety and fear. So, I accepted that it was necessary, and got on with finding ways to get through it and not let it steal my joy and hope in the process.
How to start accepting things as they are
This is not always going to be easy. Accepting things as they are can be really difficult. It might hurt or be uncomfortable at first. But the longer term benefits are waiting for you if you can find the courage to do it.
If you feel like you don’t know where to start, here’s how I like to break down the process of accepting things as they are:
1. Let go of your judgements about yourself and the situation.
Take an honest look at the situation without trying to re-interpret or reframe it. Avoid thinking about what is right or wrong. Acknowledge what is happening and how you are feeling about it. See your part in it and what you are responsible for (this could range from nothing to everything). Be really honest with yourself (no one else is listening).
2. Identify how you would like the situation to be different.
Acknowledge what you can and can’t control in the situation. Commit to letting go of the things you can’t control. (Say it out loud if you dare! – it can make it seem more real). Identify the things you are grateful for and what this is teaching you.
3. Identify the actions you can take to move forward and do them.
These are the things you can control, or at least influence.
With practice, these 3 steps become easier and more automatic. For simpler issues, you’ll find you can mentally step through them very quickly. For more challenging situations, you might like to journal about them or even talk through them with someone you trust.
It’s worth the effort, I can assure you. If you’d like to experience greater peace, get unstuck and move forward despite your challenges, then this could really help!
So lovely mum, what do you need to accept today?
Work through the 3 steps above and let me know if it helps you.