Acceptance is not apathy. It does not mean you’re giving in, giving up, or bowing down. It’s choosing peace for yourself over control.
When we’ve conditioned ourselves to reacting, though, acceptance can feel a lot like bending our will. We react when something isn’t going our way, and we’re trying to control the outcome. But, we can’t always control the outcome. We especially can’t control others around us. The only thing we can control is our choice of how to respond. Reacting is such an automatic response, though, it’s not something easily changed.
So in the beginning of recovery it is important to become the observer. Observe your triggers. Observe your emotions. Observe your reactions.
I began this process with my husband and his family. I used to get sucked into their fights and drama, and this caused a lot of problems in our marriage. My first exercise with choosing to observe was keeping my mouth shut, no matter what, and choosing not to get involved.
This was especially difficult when it came to situations involving his kids. I used jump in every time because I believed I knew better and that if I didn’t control the situation it was going to turn into a bigger problem. What I learned from staying out of it and observing was that, often, the bigger problem was caused by me inserting myself.
I learned I didn’t need to agree with every decision my husband made or they way his family interacts with each other, and I also didn’t need to get involved. I learned that I was often a lot happier staying out of it than trying to control it and nine times out of ten the terrible outcome I was trying to avoid happening didn’t happen anyway. My life became a lot more peaceful when I let his family be his problem rather than making it my own.
Observing your actions, emotions and reactions is the first step to gaining more self awareness.
Self awareness is key to living a life that is whole and making healthy choices. As often as you can, take the role of the observer. When you feel your emotions on the rise, take a pause. Take a breath. Choose to breathe rather than react. And observe. Where in the body do you feel your emotions rising? What’s causing you to feel upset? What is your default reaction telling you to do? What happens when you choose to respond in a different way? And keep breathing. Breathe deep into your belly so you will remain calm. We lose ourselves to our emotions and reactions when we aren’t calm.
And when you do lose out to your emotions in the heat of the moment, choose to observe in hindsight. What caused your reaction? What could you have done differently and what will you change next time you begin to feel that way? And don’t beat yourself up. Reconditioning ourselves away from our default way of being doesn’t happen overnight.