No-Fail Friday: It’s not you, it’s me

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How’s this Friday find you? Are you already checked out for a holiday weekend/week/season, or still grinding away on some last-minute projects? Or, maybe, the season itself is a project for you…if so, you may want to check back on this post from a week or so ago, and make sure you’re taking care of you as well as everyone else.

This week, our focus was the often daunting project we all have of seeing things for what they are, rather than what we expect or hope or think they should be.  The challenging concept of “acceptance” means making a gentle effort to let go of the internal struggle we all experience when things don’t go as we hope. Rather than looking forward, we sometimes sit with thoughts of how things “should” be different, marinating internally in frustration, anger, disappointment, etc. Doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t legit, but it does mean nothing’s changing as long as you’re in that struggle.

This weekend’s “no-fail” mindfulness challenge (Holiday Special Edition) is about finding a piece of your reality that you don’t especially love right now, and accepting it. Now, the reason this is a Holiday Special Edition isn’t just because of the timing of this post, but also because I have the sneaking suspicion that you might be surrounded by a few ready options for working through this one. In other words, if you think everything in your life is happening in direct alignment with your hopes and expectations, ask your auntie/second cousin/childhood neighbor if they agree. Ah, there we are…ready to practice some acceptance? I thought so.

This could be one of those challenges that you set some time aside for, or it could be one that you practice in the moment, “as needed.” Ideally, as with all mindfulness practices, I’d love to see you set aside from time for it, so that when the times comes that you really need it, it’s a little more second-nature for your brain, and your nervous system. But, this is “no-fail,” so be where you are and see what you can do.

The challenge here is to bring to mind a piece of your reality that you can’t seem to “get over.” This may be something you have told yourself one hundred times that you are over, yet when given the chance to vent, turns out it’s maybe still around. Or, it could be something you’re much more willing to admit you’re irritated about. For the record, it may also be a person or relationship that pushes your buttons on the regular. Maybe you’ve tried to change someone and they just won’t.

As you bring this situation or person to mind, find your breath. Inhale, exhale, and allow your intentional focus on the flow of your breath to calm your body. As you turn your attention inward, you will likely be confronted with the emotions this situation or person instigates within you. So here’s the challenge: don’t back away. Don’t push them aside, at least not right away. It may not feel great, but that’s part of what you’re accepting.

The thing about negative emotions is that a big part of what makes them so rough is our self-inflicted battles with them. Sometimes, you just have to let it be, and by staring them straight on, their power starts to disintegrate. After taking some breaths and attempting to sit with what you’re actually feeling, give yourself permission to let it go for now. Finally, send yourself a little love for allowing yourself to go there. It’s “no-fail,” but no one said it was going to be easy. But you did it, and – how ‘bout this? – you survived it.

Notice that this particular visualization and meditation wasn’t about the external source of your frustration. You brought it to mind initially to see what was going on inside you. Because of course, acceptance is about the circumstances of your life, but it’s really about how you are withstanding and engaging with them. As Rumi said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

Get out there and dive in. Discomfort is part of growth, and you never know what kind of peace – and love – might be out there on the other side of it.

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

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