I’ll never forget saying my final goodbye.
I grasped her hand, kissed her on the cheek and said, “I’ll love you forever, Mom.” And then, through streaming tears, I let go.
Or so I thought.
My mom passed away when I was 18, and for nearly a decade afterwards, I was kind of a wreck. I numbed the pain in all sorts of unhealthy ways—including booze, boys and bonuses. But none of it made me feel any better. No amount of external stimulation could calm the chaos within.
I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t accept that she was gone.
After a while, my day-to-day returned to normal. I was quickly rising in the ranks at work, enjoying a thriving social life and exploring all that New York had to offer. But deep down, something just wasn’t right.
I once read that grief is love with nowhere to go. If that’s true, then I locked that love up in a cage, threw away the key and buried it as deep as it could possibly go within me. But here’s the thing about love: It must be expressed. When bottled up and buried, it gets compressed, building up pressure until it can no longer be contained.
Nine years to the day after she passed, the cage finally broke. The energy I had expended to contain the grief within me had drained me to my core. The love formed in the corners of my eyes and streamed down in seemingly endless drops of moisture.
I thought I could resist forever, but love had other plans. It insisted on being accepted, on being felt.
Acceptance and love. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Learning to accept the events in your life—regardless of whether they are “good” or “bad.” Learning to open yourself up and accept love—regardless of the potential heartbreak. Learning to accept that there’s a bigger purpose and vision for your life—even if you can’t see it.
Acceptance is the only way to never be unhappy again. Yes, it’s really that simple. Because if you’re in tune with the way things are and not the way you want them to be, you’re living in the same energy field and realm of possibility as the entire Universe. You’re raising yourself out of your unconscious bubble and limited view—and opening up to a larger truth: There’s a greater calling for you beyond the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” mentality that’s holding you back.
It’s time to stop resisting and start accepting. Below, I share three major lessons I’ve learned about acceptance. So you can quit wasting time and energy on the things you cannot change. And instead focus on where the Universe is trying to lead you. Because it’s somewhere much more grand, bold and beautiful than you could have dreamed up on your own.
1. If you have the power to change it, do it! For everything else, there’s acceptance.
I like to imagine life’s choices as a series of doors. Some doors are unlocked and easy to walk through. Others, you have to kick down to enter. And then there are the doors that just won’t budge—no matter how hard you try or how many tears you cry. Truth is, those are the doors that are hardest to walk away from. But you must accept that they are closed for a reason. There’s no undoing death or disaster or disruption in many forms. There’s only acceptance.
So, if you’re working towards your career goals or trying to bring about political change and finding some doors won’t budge, by all means, keep at it! There’s no telling whether it’s your door or not. If you really want it, you can probably figure out a way to unlock it and walk through. But if you keep knocking on doors that simply cannot open because the circumstances cannot be changed, it’s time to lay down your weapons and surrender. It’s time to face reality. It’s time for a healthy dose of acceptance.
2. Resistance comes in many forms, but it’s always an unconscious act that perpetuates pain.
Denial. Avoidance. Apathy. Numbing. Projecting. Downplaying. Self-deprecating. Dodging. Burying.
What do all of these things have in common? They are all forms of resistance, which is really to say they are unconscious acts of ego that keep you out of the present moment. And when you’re pining over the past or worried about the future, you’re closed off to what’s right in front of you—to all of the amazing opportunities presented by the here and now.
Resisting is futile for the things you cannot change, which is why it is unconscious. Resistance is your way of saying that you know better than the Universe. You think something should have worked out a certain way according to your expectations. And when it didn’t, you were disappointed and hurt. But when you’re in a space of conscious acceptance, you welcome possibility instead of pain. You allow yourself to open to a new path and a greater direction for your life.
3. Rejection is simply a redirection to what is meant for you.
Have you ever stopped for a second to wonder about all of the things in your life that didn’t work out? What would your life look life if you’d landed that job you were interviewing for or stayed in that relationship that went south? What if you had walked through a different set of doors in life, and ended up somewhere that would have left you unhappy or unfulfilled?
Oftentimes, when you experience rejection or things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to feel upset, disappointed or down-and-out. The reality is that not getting what you want can be the biggest blessing in the world; one door closing is just another kick in the ass you need to walk through a door that will lead you someplace better—someplace meant for you.
I’m gonna be blunt here: Your visions, plans, emotions and expectations are shortsighted and naïve. When you embrace the twists and turns of life and learn to follow the path laid out for you by the Universe, you’ll stop begging, kicking and screaming for things to be other than they are. And you’ll lean in to change and accept it with open arms.
Because when you look at rejection in a different way, you’ll notice that it’s actually just protection or redirection from the Universe. How about that for a plot twist!
How have you learned to lean in to the ups and downs of life and accept and embrace change? Tell me your story in the comments—or Tweet me at @crackliffe.