I’m going to attempt a Month of Acceptance: According to page 449 in the old text, “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today… Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.”
It’s really all about the wisdom to know the difference. Things that I find unacceptable, i.e., things I cannot change, are all the things I find miserable in my life. The kicker is that most of these things will change, once I accept that I need to change myself first, and find the courage to do so.
It’s far too easy to put things in the “unchangeable” category. That way the onus is off me and on others to change into what I find acceptable. As soon as this happens or that happens or this person or that person comes around to my way of thinking and acting, then everything will be right in the world. It’s this logic that leaves me sitting on the sidelines, waiting and moping and griping that no one is doing the work that I should be doing in the first place. Hey, it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to bend to my perceived needs.
Let’s start with an easy example: when my company was bought out and I was laid off, that was something I could accept. It’s pretty hard not to, when you wake up in the morning and don’t have anywhere to go. This kind of acceptance is obvious. Sure, I can still cling to all the bad feelings that accompany no longer being employed, but that accomplishes nothing. Nothing good, anyway. This is something that falls squarely into the “Let go, let God” category. It might be easier said than done, but at least it’s clear-cut.
The problems arise when I tie expectations to my acceptance. That’s when I feel like I’ve done my part, and begin building resentments towards those who aren’t coming around. Constantly checking in to see if others have noticed my progress implies that I’m all better now, so why haven’t things switched over to the way I want them? The holdup must be on their end. Which leads me back to my old thinking and old behaviors: what’s the point of all this so-called improvement if I’m still not getting what I want?
This is wrongheadedness at its finest: I’m discounting all my growth and dismissing all the miracles. I’m throwing out my gratitude and humility with the bath water.
So, what to do? Well, first and foremost, recognize daily that my life is infinitely better than it was. I’m no longer the prisoner I once despised: the helpless automaton that marched through each day without hope of anything better. Things change not so much because I change them, as they do because I change myself, and accept that the rest will happen in their own time, and in their own way.
And that’s just for starters.