Acceptance can be the Fulcrum for Change

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Acceptance can be the Fulcrum for Change

Letting go of things that aren’t as they should be

In my blogs, I take a lot of inspiration from conversations with clients. Recently the idea of expecting remorse or correction from others has become a theme in coaching conversations, and it seems to create its own form of stuckness.

On several occasions, lately, I have had the opportunity to explore the need for change with several clients who all had different sticking points; but in the end, it basically boiled down to getting stuck because they thought that change was only possible if other people or external circumstances also changed for them. In fact, the question was often ‘How do I change Suzy/my job/ my financial situation/you fill in the blank’?

While each person I spoke to was keen for personal change and growth and very willing to take personal responsibility, they seemed to get stuck on an external issue. In more than one instance the belief was something like: ‘I can only move on/feel better/solve my problem if Suzy apologises/Joe feels remorse/my boss feels guilty and ashamed/the economy improves, etc.

This seems to indicate a kind of conditional thinking that requires everything else to work ‘as it should’ before personal change is possible.

I agree, it will be nice if Joe regrets treating me badly, but is it an essential component of me getting to grips with my life? Maybe Joe is incapable of feeling remorse or incapable of seeing things from any angle other than his own. Maybe Joe believes that his behaviour was entirely justified! Is that sufficient reason for me to get hung up on his actions? I think not. On a larger scale, it would be nice if government structures and organisations did everything perfectly and as we all know that doesn’t always happen. Should that be a sufficient reason for me to not live a full and satisfying life, preventing me from always trying my best? If one takes this stance you run the risk of waiting for ever for things to become perfect before getting on with your own life path and goals.

In more than one instance; once we had agreed to accept that the situation is as it is, we could unhook and get on with the real work of self-care and personal growth. This became most evident in a case where the client wanted to overcome hurt and anger after a bitter divorce and felt convinced that all would be better if only her ex-husband could come to regret his actions and reform his behaviour. Once she had become convinced that he is just as he is and is unlikely to change and that it is not her job in life to bring him to new insights, she could make far-reaching financial and lifestyle changes that had been on ice for several years.

It seems as if the conviction that creative action is only possible once everyone does as they ‘should’ or situations are as the ‘should be’, steals an individual’s ability to come up with their own creative solutions. It is an expectation that steals one’s power.

This of course relates in some way to the idea of forgiveness. Often we see forgiveness in a very romantic light as if two parties will get together and everything will be as it should be or as it used to be – effectively walking hand in hand into the sunset. Reality however suggests that forgiveness is about letting go of past and present injustices for our own sake. Accepting that events were as they were and that people are as they are; and refusing to carry the weight of holding onto grudges or expectations of change.  Forgiveness does not mean approval or justification; it does however mean that we stop feeling anger and blame towards an event or person. We are effectively letting go of the power outside agencies have over us by allowing them to be as they are.

Jack Kornfeld puts this beautifully with a wink of the eye: ‘Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past. ‘

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