Acceptance – embracing things you cannot change – isn´t easy. I´ll be the first to admit it.
But I have a wonderful saying I´ve found that helps:
Love it. Change it. Leave it.
I mean, you either love something or you don´t. If you don´t, then do what you can to change it. And, if that doesn´t work, then you leave it.
Let´s say, you don´t want to love the direction your business is moving in. You have it in your power to change it. It´s your business, after all. If, after trying to make changes, you´re still frustrated and unhappy, walk away from one vision to make space for creating a new one.
Okay. I know that´s often easier said than done. Still, from experience, I know that these are the three options we´re quite often faced with.
And yet, there are situations that we cannot change; situations we cannot or do not want to walk away from.
What do you do then? How do you mitigate the stress and keep moving forward?
Let me use the example of a traffic jam because it´s an easy one and we´ve all been there before…
One day I was on my way to an appointment and rather than the usual 15 minutes, it took me over an hour to get there. There´d been an accident and the main highway from here to where I wanted to go was bumper to bumper. I hate to be late and I was stuck. As the cars inched forward at a snail´s pace, I could feel the panic starting to build.
Naturally, this was not a situation I loved. I was going to be late for my appointment and there wasn´t anything I could do about it. I couldn´t make the situation play out any faster, so, change was out. And, I couldn´t just get out of my car and walk away.
What´s a girl to do?
There isn´t anything you can do here…or is there?
Situations like this are the ideal time for practicing acceptance.
Still, while acceptance is key to learning how to deal with challenges in a healthy way, it´s far from easy.
Stuck in traffic and late for an important appointment. Super annoying and stressful…
Who wouldn´t struggle with keeping calm?
Here are 5 simple steps to more acceptance when that happens:
Step 1: Be realistic
You find yourself in a situation that cannot be changed. Repeat this to yourself (aloud, if possible), at least three times:
It is what it is.
When something happens that´s outside of your control, hoping for miracles or trying to ignore it will not help. Accept that´s this is just the way it is for the moment and focus your energy on getting through it. Step by step, one foot in front of the other.
There´s always a way through. Be determined and you will find it.
Step 2: Keep cool
It´s easy to get really annoyed when circumstances seem to be working against you
…why can´t all these darn cars just get out of the way. Don´t these people understand that I have an important appointment to keep!?
Your heart starts pounding and your hands feel sweaty. You begin feeling panicky and want to lash out at anyone or anything.
But how far will giving into the panic get you? Not very.
As soon as you realize what´s happening, that´s when you need to take steps to calm down.
Take a deep breath. And then another. Relax your shoulders and close your eyes for a moment or two, if you can.
In situations like this, I often say to myself: when emotions run high, logic runs low. Slow down. Calm down. Breathe.
It helps every time. =)
Step 3: Assess the situation
Once I cool down, I can reassess the situation and decide on my next step. Because, there always IS a logical next step, if you look for it.
Ask yourself: What are the facts here?
Take a close look at the facts without judging or evaluating them.
My car´s not moving and I´m going to be late for my appointment.
These are the facts – plain and simple.
Step 4: Look for a solution…or a compromise
This is where it´s time to decide what you´re logical next step will be.
Ask yourself: Is there an obvious solution to this problem?
Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn´t.
In our traffic example, simply getting out of my car and walking is not really a viable solution.
Some situations cannot be solved or changed.
The next logical step here would be for me to look for a compromise. I could call my appointment and let them know what has happened, then sit back and relax. Turn on some music and wait. Or I could update my to-do list, plan dinner, read a book on my phone…whatever it takes to while away the time until we get moving again.
Step 5: Look for the upside
There´s something positive in every situation…if you´re willing to look for it. I´m not trying to toot the horn of the positive thinking train and I do realize there are times when you just might want to get angry. Still, it pays to stop and think about positive lessons you can take from every situation you find yourself in – both the good and the bad.
Think back over some difficult situations you´ve gone through – what did they teach you? Maybe one of them taught you patience and another taught you to pick your battles. Perhaps one of them taught you that you can always rely on your family or a special friend.
Understanding that there are positive lessons to be learned from even the most difficult experiences can help us become more accepting.
Going back to the traffic example I shared with you…
Despite having to wait nearly an hour for things to get moving again, I kept my cool and refrained from wasting my energy on anger or resentment. After cancelling my appointment, I indulged in some “guilt-free reading” time – I always keep a fun book on my phone for moments just like these. =)
Change Has Its Roots In Acceptance
Paradoxical as that may seem, it´s true. The only way to change a situation you are unhappy with, is to accept it.
When you want to change something, you are looking to take concrete actions to improve the situation. It takes accepting that you have a problem to be able to look for help and support in changing it. That´s why I say that change has its roots in acceptance.
Accepting the problem for what it is, helps you change your emotional response to it. It frees you to look at the situation objectively and find the solution or compromise works for you.