What I’ve Noticed
I learned to ski when I was 42 years old.
When I look back, it’s amazing I ever learned because I was a bag of nerves during the process. I was afraid of speed and heights, and I didn’t want to get hurt. I’d look down the steep white slope, and all I could hear were my relentless inner voices saying, “Why can’t you learn faster?” “You’re too uncoordinated to learn how to ski.” “You’re such a chicken.”
I’d go down the slope frozen with fear and tension.
One day, I saw a paraplegic skier zoom by me, on a special seat mounted on skis! He exuded confidence and bliss. I watched him with amazement — and woke up from my haze of self-doubts.
I decided to gather all my self-judgments into a bundle and accept them — not as truth, but just as snippets of my old home movies.
I stopped resisting them. I relaxed into them and skied with them.
What I noticed were the pine trees and the sun on my face. What I noticed was that I didn’t need to be perfect, just acknowledge my feelings and ski on!
Here’s to acceptance!
All I Want Is A Little ACCEPT, Just A Little Bit
I couldn’t resist this play on Aretha Franklin’s famous song on respect, because I see how often we struggle to accept ourselves or something in our lives.
Have you heard about the experiment with fleas in a jar? Hundreds of fleas were put in a jar and the lid closed tight. They repeatedly flew to the lid, but then gradually gave up. Eventually the lid was removed. However, the fleas did not fly out. They “believed” the lid was still there.
They believed they were trapped.
Like the fleas, we hold ourselves back due to past conditioning — not able to see that this is a new moment, and the lid is gone. Freedom is our birthright, but we can get stuck in patterns of limitation. The good news is that, unlike the fleas, we can become aware of our patterns and beliefs, question them, and change them.
“Oh God, yes, I want change,” we say. And then we find all kinds of ways to fight what we don’t like.
But the secret of change is starting with acceptance. Carl Rogers, a famous American psychologist, said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
What is acceptance?
It is an open observing of what is going on in this moment, inside and outside us, without approval or disapproval, without judgment, or resistance. It’s feeling into what is. Even if we do judge and disapprove, we have an allowing attitude toward that as well. We look at our thoughts and feelings, and just say O.K.
Whatever you find in your thoughts and feelings, see it, and be grateful for the seeing. Only an accepting approach will let you really see what is there.
One of my clients says she hates her weight, but can’t stay on a diet.
She studies herself in the mirror to remind herself how bad she looks, and constantly tells herself she is fat, ugly, and a loser. She says she’s afraid that if she accepts herself, she won’t even try to diet. I asked, “Does calling yourself a loser help you stay on a diet?” “No!” she cried. “It doesn’t. In fact, I think I eat more to console myself!”
Can a person select a food plan and follow it without calling herself names?
Actually, our actions and achievements are easier and more successful when we come from a place of self-acceptance. Some people are afraid of acceptance because they think it means rolling over and playing dead. Living with a situation, and not lifting a finger to change it. Being passive and weak. Allowing mistreatment from others.
Staying stuck in an unhappy job, relationship, house, town, anything.
Actually, it’s resistance to reality rather than acceptance that can paralyze us. Resistance consumes a huge amount of our energy.
Another client was frequently upset by her husband’s anger. She said she couldn’t believe he would treat her like that, and then be so kind to her at other times. She said no matter how many times he flew off the handle, she always felt unprepared.
As she came to accept “This Is What He Does” and “This Is How I Feel About It,” the huge amount of energy it took to resist these facts freed up the energy she needed to act. She decided on a way to set a boundary. When her husband began to boom and criticize, she now said, “I want to talk to you, but I don’t want to be yelled at and criticized.” By acknowledging the facts of the situation, she was able to change her own behavior.
When we accept without approval or disapproval, we see that what is going on inside or outside of us Just Is. Seeing clearly and accepting allows us to dare — dare to admit our feelings to ourselves, step up to the plate, find the next action.
Here’s an action step you can take today…
In the next moment, choose to relax into and accept something about yourself. Anything. For now, see it, and be grateful for the seeing.
What’s between you and your sweet life?
No matter how successful or happy you are, there is always something you can improve. I work one-on-one with men and women, in person or over the phone.
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