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Acceptance

Accepting My Truth.

Acceptance is a deep and heavy topic for me. Next to self-compassion, acceptance is another area that took me time to understand its importance on my journey. I genuinely believe that, without acceptance, you will always face periods of immense stagnation. But, unfortunately, many people confuse their feelings of acceptance of the circumstances as the ultimate truth of their identity. And that internal struggle hinders progressive movement. And if you’ve learned anything thus far, you know that sustainable change is all about progressive movement.

Acceptance understands what is. And it acknowledges four crucial things;

  1. Who you believe you are now,
  2. How you genuinely feel about the situation and the circumstances,
  3. Who you want to be, and
  4. The belief that you can change.

True acceptance will not allow how you feel to keep you from attempting to change. Does acceptance mean that you will achieve the change? Unfortunately, it does not. But you won’t be the person standing in your way. Acceptance would say the circumstances are what they are, and I feel some way about it, but I believe I am capable and worthy of the change I want to see in myself. “Jamie, how does that work?” you ask. Well, here’s my 5 cents. It’s my way of looking at the world, and if it resonates with you, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too. It’s your 5 cents now, so do with it what you may. My goal is to give you a different perspective, my perspective, on what it means to accept.

Most of us struggle with the same question regarding change, and it’s probably the biggest question of all, “Can I change?” Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to being one way that when faced with the challenge of changing, it seems easier to “accept” that this is who we are and that change is futile and impossible. But, to me, that is not what it means to accept. Instead, that is a defence mechanism kicking in because you haven’t amassed the courage to take the risk on yourself. (You can read all about my views on courage here.)

I’ve watched countless times as people quit in the name of acceptance. Unfortunately, I was one of them. And the most powerful lessons in acceptance came from my relationships. I will never forget how I felt when I went through my divorce. I felt inadequate as a partner and a man, unworthy of love, affection, and compassion. I was in a rough place in every facet of my life: psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. At the time, I struggled to find work, my savings were rapidly depleting, and no matter what I tried to do, my marriage wasn’t getting any better. That combination was a time bomb waiting to explode. And explode it did. My marriage ended, and I went into new relationships refusing to let anyone get that close to me again. Yet. I dared to yearn for connection and intimacy. See the problem?! Well, let me help you.

I exited my marriage, still believing and feeling unworthy and inadequate. I stewed in this cesspool of negativity so long that I accepted those feelings as a universal truth instead of acknowledging my feelings about the situation. As a result, the thought “I feel inadequate, unworthy, unmanly and unloved” morphed into “I am inadequate, unworthy, unmanly and unloveable.”. And that is a dangerous place to be because I quit believing in relationships and love. But more importantly, I quit believing in myself. And where relationships were concerned, I stopped being courageous, showing compassion, and taking responsibility. You see, acceptance has nothing to do with taking on the identity of your feelings, and that is where the majority of us get stuck.

Success becomes even harder to obtain when you identify yourself as a failure rather than acknowledge that you feel like shit because you failed. And because of my inability to accept my feelings, I couldn’t change them. And I don’t care what anyone says; when you’re immersed in an atmosphere for too long, you will begin to take on habits of your environment. I was no exception. My new and toxic identity started to take form. I became emotionally distant and unnecessarily harsh towards relationships I valued. I was uncompromising in my new ways, and my new defence mechanism was to hurt my relationships before they could hurt me. And I hurt many people along the way by rationalizing it as “I accept that this is who I am now.”. Bull shit! That was the furthest thing from the truth. The truth was I was hurting, and I didn’t know how to heal; I know my authentic self is enough, but I felt inadequate because of my divorce; I know I am loved, but I closed myself off from loving and being loved; my marriage ended when, at that time, I didn’t want it to, and I was sad. 

It amazes me looking back at how much we take on the identity of what we feel. I feel overweight. I’ve tried and failed, and I accept that this is how I’m meant to be. Now, look, I am not here to tell you that you shouldn’t think that way because you will. You are a human, and you possess complex emotions. But I will tell you that how you feel and your true identity are not always the same, and you need to be mindful of the differences and guard your identity while understanding how to express your feelings. To me, that is what it means to accept oneself and one’s situation.

So, if you’re curious about what happened to me?! Well, I accepted my truth:

  1. I took the time to understand my self-image.
  2. I took the time to explore and define my authentic self, including the person I wanted to become.
  3. I took the time to understand and separate my feelings of self vs my feelings of the situation.
  4. I chose to do things and made decisions that reinforced my authentic identity and who I wanted to be.
  5. I took the time and made an effort to heal from my feelings.
  6. And I sought help when I was no longer making progress.

And now, I have the most profound and most prosperous relationships I have ever experienced with myself and others. While there are times that I still have feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness when things get tough, my negative feelings are no longer confused with my identity. I know I’m not where I want to be, but I know that this is not a reflection of my worth or value as a person, and I believe that even though I’m not there yet, I can still change. And I will never stop thinking that.

There isn’t a one-size fit all solution when it comes to fitness and health. And your journey to sustainable change will be riddled with moments where having that clarity of one’s identity will be crucial. But I believe that once you practice acceptance, you’ll be closer to achieving your goal sustainably. And that is always a beautiful thing. You must find what works for you, and I’m here to help you if you want.

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