Ideas around Acceptance have been popping up lately and this blog post explores some of the thinking I’ve been doing on Acceptance.
Recent Enneagram reading discussed 5 A’s: Awareness, Acceptance, Appreciation, Action, and Adherence. Awareness has been a focus for me for a while now. Awareness of my critical inner voice reiterating my self-limiting beliefs, awareness of the behaviors that are habitual based on these deeply held beliefs, and awareness of trying to live a life based on meeting societal expectations.
My Enneagram type can be briefly described as follows: I believe I gain worthiness and love by being good, doing the right thing, meeting high standards (ideals), making no mistakes, correcting errors, and being responsible. I have very high expectations (for myself and others), trying to living a life of what I “should and shouldn’t” do. I have a strong tendency to point out what’s wrong and am highly judgmental of others (are they doing what is right, are they making mistakes). Said another way, I believe that if I am not good, not living up to expectations, not doing what I should, making mistakes, allowing mistakes to happen, or not being responsible for doing things in the right way, then I will not be worthy of love and belonging – I will be rejected and cast out.
This Enneagram thinking has helped me be even more specific in my awareness – Awareness of when I’m pointing out what’s wrong. Awareness of when I’m resentful of those who are not following the rules. Awareness of when I feel like I’m being criticized (making mistakes). Awareness of when I’m procrastinating because I worry about getting it right. Awareness of when I’m being judgmental of others or seeing things in just 2 dimensions (for me it is either right or wrong – can you just imagine how stressed I’ve been with the current political climate?). Awareness of when I am focused only on improvement/doing and not allowing time for pure pleasure/being.
I am becoming more aware of both my self-limiting thinking and my habitual behaviors. But change requires more than just awareness. The next step is acceptance and I am learning that acceptance is hard.
My 2021 Word of the Year is Courage. I knew I needed the courage to become the “me I want to be“ which requires facing my fears, fully accepting what is (life’s imperfections, life’s messiness), and accepting myself (including letting go of things I thought I needed, letting go of deeply held beliefs, letting go of resentment).
Some of the courageous acceptance I am working on right now:
The courage to accept the mess. I should be de-cluttering. I should be downsizing and not moving everything we have to Florida. I should not have a house where there are piles of things on every surface. I should be minimizing what we have. Minimalism has become the new busy. If you’re not de-cluttering and minimizing, you’re not meeting societal expectations. (And these expectations feel even higher as we get older/move to Florida.) Yes, I need to have the courage to “stop the should” and accept the mess!
The courage to accept myself. I hear (perceive) criticism or judgment in the comments of others. Similar to the Sixth Sense of “I see dead people”, I “hear criticism” everywhere – in hubby’s comments about dinner, in blog reader’s comments, in friend’s recommendations, in my own inner voice. These criticisms often sound like unmet expectations. I need to stop hearing criticism everywhere, accept my own individuality, and accept the imperfections in what I do.
The courage to accept the mistakes or the things that are not “right”. I need to stop stressing about the mistakes I make. I need to ignore the less than perfect dinners, the messed-up tile floors, the wish-I-made-different-choices garage design, the not-checked-off checklists, the empty calendar, and the lack of a detailed move plan. It’s a challenge to lower my expectations (of others and myself) and not listen to my critical inner voice chiding me, “how can you not be working towards that, how can you not be improving that, how can you not be making sure things happen, how can you not be following up so others meet your expectations, how can you let that happen?” It’s a challenge to just let things be, to not feel guilty if I’m not engaging in improving something, to not nag and push.
It’s a huge challenge to let go of expectations whether societal, perceived, or from my own critical inner voice. I need to go beyond awareness and have the courage to accept who I am and accept life as it is.
Embrace the glorious mess that you are – Elizabeth Gilbert
Is there something you need the courage to accept?
Photo Credit: Me – an old photo repurposed for my WOTY Courage series