My cousin Kasey has been sending out a daily text message mantra with just a simple message to serve as a little dose of morning inspiration for the rest of the day. Last week, she asked if I would share a mantra and so I sent her the above quote and this reflection:
Is it possible to completely accept our circumstances as they are, while still working towards where we want to be? We often treat acceptance as apathy, or something we must do with a sense of victimhood if our circumstances aren’t as we have hoped. But what if the only way to ultimately get what you want in life is to fully accept where you are right now? We can have goals, dreams and desires for our future life at the same time that we fully embrace our circumstances in the present moment. Life only happens in the present. And if we’re so busy living our future lives in our heads, why would we ever expect to get there?
I’ve been exploring this concept a lot lately, especially how it relates to my life right now, as well as for the clients that I work with.
We tend to get caught in the “when I” syndrome – “WHEN I get (to my ideal weight, the perfect guy, my dream job), THEN I’ll be/do (happy, the dream trip, more family time, …)”
For years, I told myself that once I was married, I could fully pursue the life I wanted. I would start my dream job as a health coach and yoga instructor, I’d go on cool trips, and cook fancy dinners. After lots of self-reflection and a few self-help reads (ok, lots of self-help reads), I’ve realized that I don’t need to wait. It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on the idea of one day getting married and finding someone to do all that stuff with, but that I can be fully engaged and 100% grateful for the life that I have right now.
I see the same concept in the way that women feel in their bodies. It’s easy to think – “If I accept my body, then I’ll never get to the weight I want to be” just as much as “If I accept my life as being single, then I’ll never find someone to spend the rest of my life with”.
But just because we accept ourselves does not mean we can’t have desires and goals. And by doing so, we release the hatred, angst, and misery that causes us too many times perpetuate our circumstances and feel stuck.
Here’s a good little analogy for you:
My dream house is a restored downtown house with an amazing backyard area, a kitchen with a big island and luxurious master suite. But right now, I live in a small little house with a tiny backyard. But just because I’m not in my dream home doesn’t mean I hate waking up in my house every morning. I LOVE my house and I’ve taken a lot of time and effort to make it a comfortable, warm environment that’s decorated just how I want it.
Just because I want my dream house doesn’t mean I have to hate where I am now. And on the flip side, by loving my house, it doesn’t mean that I’ve given up living in my restored downtown home. I know my dream house will happen one day, but it’s not where I’m at right now. I’m patient.
We can say the same thing for our bodies, our job, or whatever it is that is “not where we want to be.”
Here are a few things that have helped me to fully be “here”:
- Check in with yourself if you start the “when I’s”. Do you think you can only feel or do something a certain way when something outside of you changes?
- When you get tripped up in your future destination, take a deep breath and gently (and lovingly) remind yourself to be here now.
- What feelings are missing and how will you feel when you experience the external change?
- How can you bring those feeling into your life NOW, such as more connection in your relationships, more excitement for your work, or more serenity to your current situation?
- If you tend to self-sabotage with bad habits, what is it that you need that you are not giving yourself? If you binge on food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, unfulfilling sex – are you bored, lonely, stressed? Do you need to feel more fun, connection, love? What do you really need and how can you bring that to your life with positive changes that get you to where you want to be?
For more inspiration and insight on this topic, I recommend these two books:
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything – if you’ve struggled with body image, emotional eating or really just being unsatisfied in any areas of your life, this book is life changing. I re-read almost the entire book just to get the full impact of Geneen’s words.
The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul – we make decisions based on how they make us feel. Tap into this and it’s a whole new way to look at setting future goals and desires.
I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Does any of this resonate with you?