A couple weeks ago I was taking a walk. It started to rain and part of me – the part from where fear and doubt arise – said “Turn around and go home! You’re going to get wet! There might be lightening, you could get hurt!” I know it might seem crazy that all of this came up just because of a little rain, but these are thoughts that were instilled in me by a worrisome mother and grandmother, and they’re not easy to shake. Notice, though, that I didn’t say they were impossible to shake…because just as those thoughts came up, a new part of me – a part that is becoming increasingly familiar – jumped in and said, “Why turn back? What’s a little rain? There isn’t any lightening. You are fine.” So just like that, the whole experience changed – from misery to bliss, from something to endure to something to enjoy – a lovely walk in the rain, just the raindrops and me.
And that is the gift of acceptance – you could also call it surrender, or letting go – but whatever term you use, the outcome when you give this gift to yourself is the same: freedom, joy and power.
We all have ideas about what we should do, how we should act, and who we should be. We try to control circumstances to make life follow our ideas. But nine times out of ten, life just doesn’t follow the path we were hoping for, no matter how much we try to force it. The more we attempt to control things – when we struggle against what life has planned for us in that moment (like my rainstorm) – the more inner struggle we create, and inevitably the judging voice inside our heads appears full of fear, doubt, and worry. In that space absolutely nothing positive can occur.
If you are trying to change your eating habits you know this all too well: you follow a diet, you feel like you’re doing great, then you fall off the wagon and eat something you think you shouldn’t and suddenly that imaginary sense of control you’ve created vanishes. Your inner critic says “You blew it…this isn’t going to work…you’ll never succeed.” So what do you do? Usually eat more! It’s almost like a state of panic, a vicious cycle of worry and eating that won’t stop until you step out of it.
How do you step out? Accept, surrender, let go. Accept that you ate whatever you ate. Surrender to the inevitable ups and downs of life, the highs and lows, the change and unpredictability. Let go of the idea of a perfect diet – or a perfect life! Fully embrace the experience, see how you learn and grow because of it, then draw a line in the sand and start from there.
Letting go doesn’t mean you stop caring – rather, it gives you the opportunity to act versus react. When you let go of all the ideas of who you should be and how life should be, freedom comes in the realization that it’s all ok, whether “it” is rain, the occasional splurge, or any other imagined catastrophe. From that sense of freedom springs joy as you see that all these experiences are just part of the beautiful dance of life, and from joy arises power – the power of knowing that you’re exactly where you need to be, an integral part of the dance. With the gift of acceptance we don’t relinquish control, we gain it, and from this place we can take action to truly change not only our diet but also our lives.