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ACCEPTING WHAT IS -- THE QUICKEST WAY TO CHANGE


What do you wish was different?


I don't think there's anyone who doesn't wish something or someone would change. Frequently, we want other people to change. Sometimes we wish we could change ourselves.


And the good news is that things usually do change -- eventually. But ... sometimes they don't.


The honest truth is that anything having to do with other people is totally out of our control, and the more we push against these things, the more they seem to push back.


Resistance to reality is one of the quickest ways to hurt ourselves and one of the ways we sabotage ourselves from getting what we want in the long term.


Here's an example. I work with a lot of parents with teenagers. And often those teens will say things that feel like a knife to the heart -- things like, "I hate you!" or "You're the worst parent in the world!" or "I can't wait until I can finally get out of here!" or even things like "I wish I had a different father!" or "I wish you had never been born!"


It's human nature for these phrases to cut, and to wish our children were different, that they wouldn't say such terrible things. You might think, "Why can't they be sweet like my neighbor's child? Why can't they be grateful? What did I do to make my child so mean?"


Those kinds of thoughts resist what is. They're a longing for something different than the reality you're living with. You take that knife that was flung at you, catch it, and then plunge it into your own heart. Those thoughts hurt you, and when you're hurt, you tend to mirror. You start flinging the knives right back.


But what you truly want is greater love and a better relationship with your child. You want your child to love you, to like you, to trust you. Ironic.


But what if you just accepted the reality of what is -- and the reality is not that your child hates you. The reality is that teenagers often say mean things to their parents. Their brains are in the middle of maturing, and they lack the emotional regulation and words to express what they're really saying, which is usually some version of: "I'm angry; I don't think you're being fair; I don't understand; and I have really, really big feelings about that."


That may not stop the initial cut when that knife gets flung, but a quick acceptance of reality helps you realize that this is the child you're dealing with right now and that nothing has gone wrong. You can quickly think something like, "Oh, this is the stage of life where my child says he hates me."


That acceptance allows you to catch the knife and then put it down rather than hurting yourself any further with it or throwing it right back at your teen.


And that's when you can calm down and meet your child where they are. That's when you can emotionally be in a space to connect rather than resist and react.



What about accepting ourselves just how we are? Doesn't that mean complacence? If we accept ourselves, we'll never change, right?


No.


Accepting and loving ourselves is the quickest way to change. If we yell at our kids too much, berating ourselves for doing that only makes us feel terrible. And when we feel terrible, we yell more, not less.


Accepting and loving ourselves allow us to approach change without self-blame, without shame. Instead of beating ourselves up if we yell at our kids, we can look at what happened compassionately.


We can think, "Huh, I wonder what was going on with me there. What do I need that I'm not getting? Why did I yell? How can I do better?"



Accept what is and drop all the extra story your brain wants to feed you about it. Brains often lie to us and catastrophize a situation. They feed us all kinds of false meaning.


It will feel so much better if you can accept things like your mother-in-law criticizing dinner, your husband working late, your boss not responding to you, or your child failing physics.


And then from that place of acceptance of what is, your brain can go to work on how you want to react. Do you want to let it go or address it? How do you want to address it? What is the best way to help you feel how you want to feel? How can you act from love rather than resistance?

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