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Don't try to understand everything

One day I was speeding down the highway of life on cruise control, wind blowing in my hair, sun shining on my face, everything going my way and then gradually, imperceptibly at first, it changed. I woke up one day feeling like I was leopard crawling down the highway to hell.

But why? I had just secured my lifelong dream, a book contract with Penguin. My project management gig had been extended for a year. My family were all happy and healthy after enduring a grueling pandemic.

It made no sense at all and yet still I felt incapacitated. Like the life force had been sucked right out of me. It was hard for me to do anything. Even the things that used to instantly trigger joy felt like a chore.

What was going on?

Perhaps I couldn’t manage the stress of my increased workload this year. I knew that wasn’t it. This wasn’t my first rodeo with business critical project deadlines. And yet, I found myself complaining to anyone who would listen about how overwhelmed I was.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was some underlying force at play, but what? No matter how many tonics, elixirs and magic potions I downed, nothing could break the spell.

I was sliding from the Mother of Motivation to the Daughter of Discouragement.

One night in desperation, my husband handed me “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle and told me to read about acceptance. What?! I didn’t need something as simple as acceptance! Acceptance equates to inaction, passively allowing everything and anything. Acceptance is of zero use to me. No, what I need is just need to get through my massively long to do list.

Sigh. I picked it and began to read...

“Whatever you cannot enjoy doing, you can at least accept that this is what you have to do. Acceptance means for now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do and I do it willingly. If you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you do, stop. Otherwise, you are not taking responsibility for the only thing you can really take responsibility for, which also happens to be the only thing that matters: your state of consciousness. And if you are not taking responsibility for your state of consciousness, you are not taking responsibility for life."

Ouch. It was true I wasn’t enjoying much anymore. And I had to admit that I was not taking any responsibility for where I found myself either.

Could it really be that simple though? Could the root cause of all my misery just be…me!? Surely it must be something bigger, a dread disease, depression, a midlife crisis even?!

And yet the power of resistance cannot be underestimated. Imagine picking up a pebble every time you resist something, through a negative thought or a complaint. Since what you focus on expands, plenty of negative thoughts quickly rush in to join the party and before you know it your pockets are crammed full. Time to get a backpack for those pebbles. Life feels heavy - literally and figuratively.

Time for step 1 to overcoming resistance and moving towards acceptance: some serious introspection.I strongly objected to working long, grueling hours. I harshly compared myself with colleagues who seemed to be on top of things whereas I felt unable to remember what day it was. I should be with my family. I should be building a social media following to support my upcoming book launch!? I should be able to handle all this.

I should…but I am NOT. And is my resistance bringing any benefits to me or my family? Nope. Disillusioned, detached and distracted is no fun to be around.

Am I aware that my resistance doesn’t solve anything? I suppose so. My bitter complaints did not magic up a knight in shining armor to save me from myself.

My subconscious was fiercely resisting this new reality and that resistance was filling up my backpack so quickly, I could barely stand under the weight of unfulfilled expectations.

Step 2: Once I identified the subject of my resistance, I could do something about it. Deepak Chopra teaches us that even though we may want things to be different in the future, right now, in this second, we must accept things as they are so that we have the power to change them in the future. The power to put down that backpack and think clearly before making the next move, freely and easily.

Finally, Step 3: Once you have accepted your life exactly as it is, you can either find the courage to change the circumstances proactively or leave them, perfectly peacefully. Acceptance brings a level of clarity and calmness to the situation.

I felt able to identify which tasks could be delegated to ease my workload. I shook up my To Do list to focus on what really matters. Acceptance felt like finding a shady tree after a long, hot hike.

As with any life skill, you don’t get to accept once and done, resistance will always be lurking in the shadows, waiting for you to let your guard down, waiting to throw pebbles on your path.

But by making acceptance the lens through which I look at life, by knowing that I don't have to UNDERSTAND everything because sometimes things are not meant to be understood, just accepted, I can take responsibility for my circumstances, ease back onto that highway, this time traveling light, crank up the tunes and feel the sunshine on my face, the wind in my hair, the joy in my heart.

Thankfully, life begins to feel good again.






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