Acceptance and Awareness Create Choices
Anastasia D. Bean, MS, LPC, NCC
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” — Anonymous
If you want to have less stress and anxiety, then try practicing awareness and acceptance. One must first become aware of what is before acceptance is possible. Awareness and acceptance go hand in hand; they are a process. Becoming aware and accepting what is, not what should be, or what should not be. Acceptance is about reality. Acceptance is only possible once we become aware of what we are resisting. In other words it is in our resistance that we suffer. The choice is to remain the same or to do something different. Accepting is letting go of what we cannot change. Practicing awareness and acceptance is learning to live life on life’s terms and is key to having peace and serenity. How many times have you heard someone say, “Well, I have no choice?” We convince ourselves that we do not have a choice, that we are victims of circumstance. I am asking you to consider whether you are a victim or a volunteer. Now, I am not suggesting that bad things and bad situations do not arise. However, I am suggesting that even among the worst times in our lives, there are choices to make. We can take action and make a choice on how we “grow” through the experiences and situations in our lives. The choice may be between a rock and a hard spot, but nevertheless, we still have a choice. In fact, to do nothing is a choice and sometimes may be the best choice.
Acceptance is the turning point of change. It may feel like giving in or giving up. The reality is that things will always evolve and change. Becoming aware and accepting allows us the space to be adaptable. It is where opportunities we did not see before are illuminated. Acceptance is the grace we can give ourselves to let go of controlling the uncontrollable. In most situations, our efforts to maintain the status quo leave us exhausted and disconnected from the people we love and the life we want to live.
Tuning into our body and mind is part of the process of becoming aware. Awareness in our body may be as an uneasy feeling, and we may just chalk it up to being tired. It can be camouflaged as tightness in the chest or throat or chronic tightness in our neck and shoulders. Awareness may be the anxious or racing thoughts in our minds, and we dismiss them as irrational. Becoming aware of the body and mind connection is also known as our intuition or gut feeling. Most of us have been influenced by today’s society or taught to disregard our gut feelings. Consider the definition of intuition taken from Dictionary.com:
- Direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.
- A fact, truth, etc., perceived in this way.
- A keen and quick insight.
- The quality or ability of having such direct perception or quick insight.
- Philosophy: Pure, untaught, non-inferential knowledge.
According to the definition, intuition looks like a universal gift given to all humans to instinctively know, even when all the facts or truth is not evident. If your intuition is telling you one thing and you continually do another thing, this perpetuates the cycle of non-acceptance. Awareness starts with listening to your whole body and mind. It is the clue to stop and to give yourself the space and the time to seek the options to make the best choices possible, given the reality of the present moment.
One of the toughest parts of making changes is to give the process time. In other words, give time, time. I like to consider the process of change like a marathon. If you wanted to participate in a marathon, where would you start? First, you would have to become aware of the idea that you could be part of a marathon, and then consider how to make the changes to accomplish your goal. I would think you would get the right equipment, join a gym, and surround yourself with others that understand what it takes to run a marathon. Continually seeking more information on what works for others and how they are succeeding. Take what works for you and leave the rest. Then the hard part is you actually have to commit to running. There will be days it is not so easy to go run. Maybe it is freezing outside, your running partner bailed, or you just don’t feel like it today. Feeling like doing something is not required to actually choose to do it anyway. It’s a choice, and by now you have enough awareness to know how your choice will impact who you want to be and how you want to feel that day. Until we practice the power of awareness and acceptance, the choice to be different will remain disguised.
“Without awareness, we are not truly alive.” ― James F.T. Bugental