There’s this pervading thought out there: if I accept what is I’ll never change or evolve.
I get it. I’ve struggled with this idea of acceptance before. If I accept what is, aren’t I in some way giving up?
But what if the exact opposite is true?
When I first learned about this whole accepting-what-is perspective, I had a lot of issues with it. How in the world was I to continue to grow and evolve if I just sat back and accepted things the way they were? The whole reason I wanted to improve was because I didn’t like the way things were.
For many years, I was terrified to accept my financial situation or my boyfriend’s behavior or my intensity. After all, I wanted to change all of these things. If I accept the debt or his desire to pull away sometimes or the way I push myself on others, how in the world would I change them?
I realize I’m not alone in this thinking. I just had a woman ask me this exact question during a live video I did recently. If we don’t like how things are, how can we accept them? If we don’t like the status quo, won’t accepting it maintain it?
One of my favorite quotes on acceptance is from Eckhart Tolle:
“Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly.”
There is nothing there that says, “I give up and let it keep happening” or “I never do anything about it.” The key here is this moment requires something of me (that might be to cry, to listen to my partner, to forgive my partner, to pay my bills, to ask for money, to stand up for myself, to sit in traffic) and so I do it willingly (I don’t push it away, pretend it isn’t happening, blame someone else, or fight it in some other way).
Here’s the thing. What is doesn’t mean what has to be. The key truth here is that the only constant is change. What is required of me in this moment will not be what is required of me in the next (unless I keep fighting and postponing the inevitable).
Imagine you’re driving down the road and you get a flat tire. Acceptance would mean you acknowledge you have a flat tire, pull to the side of the road, and change it (or call someone to do it for you). Resistance would mean you just keep driving on it hoping it will get better or you start driving slower thinking that will make it go away or maybe you drive faster so as to get it fixed faster. In any of these scenarios, you are resisting what is by pretending it’s not happening or fighting against it. Ultimately, causing more harm than good.
It is only by accepting what is that we can relate to reality as it is and then decide what course of action to take. Whether that is pulling to the side of the road, taking a deep breath before speaking, lying on our bed and crying, or extending a kind word to someone in need.
Continuing with the flat tire metaphor. If our desire is to change the flat tire, we must first accept that it is flat. Any time we desire to change something or grow in some way, we must first accept where we are in this moment. Because it is only from this moment that we can do what is required of us willingly.
When we refuse to accept the flat tire because we don’t like changing it in the rain (who wants to do that?) and instead only focus on getting a new one, we keep driving on the flat tire, causing even more damage.
If you don’t like where your life is at or if you believe that the only way to continue to grow or evolve is to see your current circumstance as unacceptable, remember this: What we resist, persists.
It is through acceptance of the flat tire that you pull over and change it.
For a deeper dive into this topic, I invite you to listen to my radio show where I explore this very thing with an inspirational guest. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to my show on iTunes!