Ever fret over what you should do tonight? Ever wish you hadn’t sent that text message? Ever think you should have gone on that trip? Ever spent hours’ worth of energy making a choice and then hours’ worth of energy afterwards regretting it? I find myself today struggling with this very thing. While I do my best to fully accept my current situation and my reality each and every day, I still struggle with this concept sometimes.
One of my current goals is to do a better job listening to my feelings and trusting myself when I have a “gut” instinct about something. Recently, I made a decision not to go on a trip with someone after noticing that I was having some anxiety about the trip. When I tuned into that feeling and sat with it for a couple of days, I came to the conclusion that, in that moment, it was best for me not to go. And at the time, I felt at peace about my decision. It reminded me of something I read in The Power of Now where Eckhart Tolle says, “let [your decision] come not from reaction but from insight, from a clear realization of what is right or not right for you at that moment.”
A few days later, I find myself dwelling on the choice I made and doubting if I made the “right” choice. This doubting is my current source of suffering and I am being reminded of the importance to surrender myself on a regular basis to accept the decisions I make about my life.
When we resist our reality — which includes the choices we make — we are suffering. Psychology Today’s article on “The Power of Acceptance” explores this very thing and explains how by resisting something ensures that it will have a more negative effect, whereas accepting something will neutralize it if not transform unpleasant feelings or experiences. Now, of course, there are certain things in life we shouldn’t accept, but I am talking about the majority of things that make up our life situation, whether it be the decision we made to send a certain text message, live in a certain city, stay home on a Friday night, have a certain job, need to go grocery shopping for the dinner we want to make, raise a child, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Tolle reminds us that there are only three options for a given situation: remove yourself from it (if that is an option), change it (if that is an option), or accept it wholly (which is always an option). It is quite refreshing to realize I only have three choices – and that full acceptance is always an option.
Once a decision has been made, to continue to expend energy on whether or not that was the “right” decision resists “what is” and causes suffering. “When you accept what is — every moment — is the best. That is enlightenment.” (Tolle)
Life is a constant choice between acceptance of or resistance to the moment. And, I have found that the experience of life is filled with more ease and joy as more decisions and experiences are accepted for “what they are” and less energy is exerted doubting and resisting. As Tolle says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”
And, when I find myself slipping away from acceptance — which happens since I am still human — that is the moment it is crucial to be compassionate with myself and remember that I do the best I can in each and every moment. Acceptance and compassion are two very powerful tools towards living a more joyful existence.
Take it from me as someone who has spent most of her life resisting the reality of her situation — everything from the shape of my nose, the crookedness of my teeth, being single, being in a relationship, deciding to do something and later wishing I hadn’t — to accept things “as is” is one of the best things someone can do to improve their experience of life.
What decision have you made recently that deserves your full acceptance? Does your present moment contain something that needs your full acceptance as if you had chosen it for yourself?