On Acceptance, Progress, and Learning from Pain.
Yesterday was somewhat of a gloom and doom kind of day: rainy, cold, bleak – a day for contemplative thought. Today I feel so much better, more refreshed. Got up and ready super late (1pm?!), and came to one of my go-to coffee shops, Sip|Stir, to get things done. Currently reading Christine Hassler’s book, Expectation Hangover, and it’s such a good read. I adore inspirational material. My friends make fun of me since I like quotes, etc., but I thrive on positive and motivational messages.
Expectation Hangover talks a lot about acceptance. I have difficulty accepting many things in my life, including emotions and circumstance. I feel like I’ve tried to control rather than embrace outcomes in many instances. We can’t control all aspects of our life – in fact, we have very limited control upon external factors. It is an illusion of control. We can try our best to reach goals, but the moment we expect something is the moment we set ourselves up for potential disappointment. Many of the times I get sad thinking about life, I realize that I still hold on to unfulfilled expectations. By having loose attachments to the things we want out of life and living in the moment, it opens you up to the positive. It is about the journey, not the end result. Have aspirations, but do not overly rely on their outcome.
I’ve found that in order to grow from experiences, you shift through five steps.
We can’t have happy moments without the forlorn, and I’m a firm believer that emotions are a useful tool to let us know something is out of tune in our lives. Pain, hurt, sadness, and fear are included in this. In order to grow, we need to expose ourselves to these emotions to fully appreciate the flip side: joy, peace, laughter, and courage.
We learn a lot through reflection. What is the root cause of your emotions? What can you learn from your mistakes, from your experiences? What can you do differently next time? What worked and what didn’t work? Yesterday, when I thought about events from last year, I could pinpoint the moments where I had to look closely at myself in order to make decisions to facilitate my growth and overall contentment.
2. Moving on.
When I recently ended things with a guy I was dating, it was tough. Although it was only for a short time, letting go is nonetheless difficult. The more we invest in something with either our time, money, or emotions, the harder it is to move on. We may even fight to make it work.
This is why we often hold on to things that we know are not right for us. A relationship, a job, a city, friends – no one likes to admit failure, and it can feel like defeat when something is just not working out. But when we prolong the inevitable, the only people we hurt is ourselves. The better in tune we are with who we are, the more we can recognize our emotions and adjust our actions. When something isn’t working we need to change something or move on.
3. Being open.
A quote by Alexander Graham Bell in Ms. Hassler’s book struck with me:
“When one door closes another door opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
As long as we are stuck in the past or clinging to certain outcomes, we do not allow ourselves to be open to new opportunities that may be more conducive to our happiness. Just a few examples in my own life:
If I had stayed burned out in my last job, I wouldn’t have started this blog nor be doing more things that I love and decompressing with a long overdue break. I’ve also been contacted for several other speech-pathology jobs. Life presents you with what you need if you allow it.
By pining over failed connections and “what ifs” with men in my past, I didn’t allow myself to be open to new dating prospects. Once I became more willing, possibilities opened up. I wouldn’t have met the wonderful guys I’ve dated over the past few months if I was still looking backwards.
4. Taking chances.
This past weekend, my friend Monica and I had a conversation about fear and how it is such an obstacle to getting what we want out of life. Fear paralyzes – fear of pain, rejection, failure. The more we put ourselves out on a limb, the more we chance getting hurt. However, the only way we get to know ourselves and what we like and don’t like is if we try different things. This means getting out of our comfort zone.“You have to risk it to get the biscuit,” as stated by my dad.
Like I’ve said in previous posts, better an “oh well” than a “what if”. All my regrets in life are those where I didn’t do something. Only action will lead to change, whether it’s a way of thinking or taking the steps towards a different lifestyle. Life is a journey – five years from now I might look at this post and find that I disagree with it. But the only way I’ll get to that point is if I go out and learn from new experiences.
5. Success or failure.
By being open and taking chances, we embrace the possibilities of both failure and success. If success is achieved, great! If not, we go back to step one and begin all over again. Life isn’t perfect, and it’s the imperfections that teach us the lessons that we need to make it worth living.
Today is a sunny, bright day, very much in contrast with the overcast weather of yesterday. Without one, we can’t appreciate the other. The downs in life make the ups so much better. We just have to experience them to realize it.