Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash
By Morella Devost
When we’ve struggled with something for a while, the thought of acceptance is enough to make us want to punch someone in the face. “Surrender” is even worse. We think it means we’re giving up, that nothing will ever change if we surrender. But what if acceptance is actually the doorway to lasting transformation?
Our mind thinks this is a contradiction. But as you continue to read, I’d like to invite you to think about something you wish to change in your life — the thing with which you’re most dissatisfied. Whatever it may be — career, health, relationship, money, or something else entirely — I want to help you access why and how acceptance works.
Before we start, let me say I’ve known dissatisfaction left to right. Health-wise, I struggled with severe cystic acne for over a decade. In my thirties, I was unhappy with my single life while dreaming of starting a family. And at various times, I’ve been profoundly frustrated with my finances.
The truth that I’ve had to learn is that no matter what, without some degree of acceptance, nothing ever changes.
I had the first glimpse of this in 2007, when after more than twelve years of battling acne, I realized my skin would never heal if I didn’t love it. Up to that point, I’d been caught in the problem-solving mindset that I needed to fix the skin in order to love it. Then in 2012, at 39 years old, in the midst of a flailing non-relationship, it dawned on me that I needed to embrace my singlehood if I was ever to dance in partnership. I felt a sense of desolation at the thought of surrendering to the aloneness. And over my thirteen years of self-employment, I’ve several times had the experience of nearly nonexistent income. The last time, it dawned on me just how hard I’d been pushing against my fear of not having money.
In every instance, I was inside the hamster wheel of resistance. I was caught, doing battle with the “thing” of the moment.
For the majority of the time, we are in “fix-it/fight-it” mode; we are resisting what is. We want it over with. And paradoxically, our resistance is what keeps us stuck. Acceptance unlocks transformation.
As you read these words, perhaps you feel the tug of your own resistance about the “thing” you’d like to change. You might hear a voice inside you that says, “I can’t possibly accept this! If I do, it will remain this way!” But that is just a story we tell ourselves about acceptance. I’d like to show you a different perspective that actually opens a new doorway.
When you’re in the “fix-it/fight-it” mode, you’re essentially engaged in a tug-of-war with whatever you want to change. The reality is that you are energizing both sides of the struggle. You’re pushing, pulling, tugging in your attempt to change it. Just like any opponent you’re wrestling with, you’re gripping it by the collar. Your struggle with it holds it in place.
So, let’s take a deep breath together. Seriously, take a deep breath as you read this and as you sit with the awareness of the “thing” in your life you wish to change. Just breathe deeply right now and bring your awareness to your body. Notice the sensations you feel as you breathe. Go ahead…
Take a deep breath and bring your awareness FULLY to the present moment. This is how you begin to release the grip. Being fully present with your breath, then sit with the following question: “What if I can accept THIS moment exactly as it is?”
Let go of the story around the “thing” you want to change. Let go of what it has been, what you want it to be, what you’re afraid could happen if things don’t change. Let go of the whole story and focus on this very instant. Right here, right now. Reading these words. Breathing.
Acceptance is simply about stopping the wrestle. It’s about accepting this very moment as it is. It’s not about accepting the story of it all.
Breathe again and ponder, “What if I can accept this moment as it is?”
Say to yourself, “In this moment, I am where I am. I cannot be anywhere else.” And then ask, “What if I can find a tiny bit of peace in this moment, without needing anything to change?”
Sometimes, this exploration seems easier when we’re dealing with external life factors such as money, relationships, or the outside world. Right now, you don’t need dollar bills in your hands. In this moment, you can find contentment within yourself, outside of your relationships. In this very instant, you can tune out from world events.
When the suffering is great, or when we’re dealing with things inside our physical bodies — such as physical pain or a serious health condition — it can seem harder to disconnect from the story. When the body is in distress, we want to exit the current experience, not accept it. But the acceptance doorway is still there.
I discovered this powerful truth at a ten-day silent meditation retreat in 2003. As the days progressed, a sharp, burning pain would fire up in my back every time I meditated. I desperately wanted it to go away. It was interfering with the bliss I wanted to experience. On the eighth day, the pain got so intense that tears started streaming down my face, when all of a sudden, I let go of my need to have it be any different. I let the pain be what it was, and I spontaneously found myself both in severe pain and complete peace. Then came the bliss.
It all rests in allowing this very moment to be exactly as it is. That is all that needs to be accepted. That is all you need to surrender to; the fact that this moment cannot be any different than it is.
As we allow ourselves to fully enter present-moment acceptance, we ease our grip on the wrestle. In this way, we open to the possibility of shifting our reality to a place of peace rather than struggle. From deep peace arises inspired action, which transforms our lives and the world through grace, not through struggle.
Your situation hasn’t yet changed externally since you started reading. However, as you continue to bring your awareness (and acceptance) to the present moment, you’ll increasingly learn to cultivate peace within yourself, no matter the circumstances. Then the magic begins.
Morella Devost helps people turn their pain and challenges into their greatest source of strength. After receiving two masters degrees in counseling from Columbia University, she became a Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP facilitator, and Reiki Master. Morella is a Venezuelan-Vermonter who works with people all over the world from her RV-office as she travels the US with her family. She is the host of the Thrive With Morella TV-radio-podcast show.
Facebook personal: @Morellad1