When You Accept The Things You Cannot Change, You’re Finally Free To Be Yourself

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Think of a current problem upsetting you right now. It may be related to a relationship, your finances, career, health, or otherwise. Try to get a sense of how it is affecting you, while distancing yourself from the mental chatter. The idea of acceptance is difficult to grasp for many because people believe it implies resignation or apathy. In fact, acceptance means letting go of worry, fear, anger and negative emotions and choosing peace instead. Often, what we experience isn’t the real cause of our suffering, as much as our thoughts about it. And since we cannot control our thoughts, we try desperately to make sense of what is taking place.

Can you identify with this regarding your experience? Because we are close to the experience, the pain feels real, and regrettably, we get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions. The good news is, there are several therapies such as ACT and CBT that focus on accepting our thoughts and learning to diffuse them. The premise underlying any unpleasant experiences is learning to accept our thoughts, which neutralizes our pain and suffering. This is because our thoughts are saboteurs that convince us things are more distressing than they are (known as catastrophizing). It is by better understanding the thinking process, we realize that thoughts come and go from our mind and there’s no use giving them more energy.

Acceptance allows you the freedom to be yourself, because when we’re consumed by pain and suffering, we are not our true selves. Have you experienced this before of not inhabiting your body but controlled by your thoughts and emotions? When we accept things as they are, we develop greater psychological flexibility and what happens is aligned for our greater good. Now, let me be clear, I am not saying we should accept any form of harassment, abuse, bullying, hatred, criminal acts of violence, etc. I am saying, to ease our pain and suffering, we must accept the situation as it is, even though we may not like what is happening. Acceptance opens the door to our healing, which should be our priority over feeling good in the interim. Can you see where I’m coming from? Our long-term wellbeing should take priority over feeling good in the meantime. Healing means developing a new lens in which to view our circumstances, instead of being caught up in negativity.

When we heal, we align with our authentic nature instead of being governed by fleeting thoughts and emotions. Healing is a journey into oneself to discover the true essence of who we are. It is not meant to be a pleasant experience and sometimes can be more painful than the initial wounds. But we must take that journey if we want to live authentically, otherwise we will continually run into problems. Sometimes, it is difficult because we may not be ready for what lies ahead. Here’s the good and bad news: No one has their affairs in order. I’m yet to meet a single person free of emotional wounds and whose thoughts are peaceful and harmonious. Each of us is afflicted by some form of mental and emotional suffering, and we’re all trying to find our way in the world. Some of us are doing a better job than others, but it doesn’t mean we cannot find our way.

Is this beginning to make sense, that acceptance leads to peace and harmony and the freedom to be yourself? If you sense resistance to what I’m saying, put the advice into practice. Do the healing work and test the strength of my statements. Non-acceptance is resistance, and as you know, what we resist persists. Even unfortunate experiences can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves.

What are you resisting through your current experience?

What is behind your resistance? What are you choosing not to see?

What are you believing about this? Is it serving you?

Who would you be without the story?

What does the vulnerable place within you want you to know? What does it need you to understand?

Take your time and connect with your wise self as you answer them, since there may be hidden gems contained within them. Go deeper into the core of your being to discover why these experiences are affecting you. It is once we accept all that is that we find true freedom to be ourselves once more.

The Ultimate Guide To Finding Freedom In Your Life

What is freedom?

Freedom is showing up as yourself in the world unapologetically.  It’s taking off the mask and not being afraid to show your true self.  It’s not being worried about what other people think, not because you don’t care about them, but because you love yourself so much that you don’t need their approval.  Self-love equals the freedom to be your truest self.

Self-love is tied to our enoughness, our realization that we are perfect in our essence, our being.  We don’t have to do anything in order to earn love and acceptance, we already have it within ourselves when we learn to appreciate who we are and what we are without striving or achieving. We already are enough. You are enough.

In order to drill that into your head and allow your body to integrate, you must practice self-love. We practice self-love by taking time to meditate, going on long walks with ourselves, and one of my favorite activities, journaling…

When we spend intentional time loving ourselves, we shape our own freedom.  When we take a step forward, practice lowering the mask, and speak a little more truth than we did the day before, we inch ourselves closer to the freedom that we so desperately crave.

Here are a few ways you may be shrinking back without even realizing it:

1. Compartmentalizing

Where in your life do you keep things separate?  Do you have one group of friends that you don’t introduce to another group of friends?  Do you keep your romantic relationships separate from friendships or family?  What about creative endeavors?  Do you share them with others or hide them away for fear of rejection?

When we compartmentalize our lives, we are living out of integrity with ourselves, fearing rejection or judgment in one way or another.  Notice what you are still compartmentalizing and make a small move this week to live more wholly as yourself.

2. Saying yes when you mean no

Will the people pleasers in the room please stand up?  Yup, this one’s a big one for me.  As a chronic people-pleaser, always worried about everyone else’s feelings but my own, it’s often hard for me to tell people no.  This has been a long road of learning to say no without taking on other people’s feelings as my responsibility.  Sometimes it even means saying no to things you DO want to do but know you’d be more rewarded or fulfilled doing something else. For example, saying no to a trip to London so you can say yes to finish writing your book.  Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.  Part of practicing self-love is protecting your time and energy.

3. Laughing at stuff that isn’t funny

This may seem petty, but how many times do you catch yourself laughing at jokes you don’t agree with or don’t find funny simply so you don’t rock the boat or stir the waters? This too is living out of alignment with your true self. I’m not saying that you need to start raising cane and arguing with everyone you disagree with; I’m just saying you shouldn’t feel the need to act a certain way just to fit in or keep everyone happy.  Again, other people’s feelings and opinions are not your responsibility.  Your number one priority is your own happiness.

4. Not expressing yourself how you want to

Ever wanted to start a blog, host a podcast, try your hand at painting, or handball?  By denying yourself the right of self-expression of any sort, you are shrinking back, staying in a façade rather than bursting forth into your true essence, the part of you that you were born to embrace.  By resisting self-expression, you are not practicing self-love but self-deprivation.  You’re practicing being fake—separate from your own soul.

Now that we know how we shrink ourselves back, let’s look at a few ways we can practice self-love, thus embracing our true selves and winning back our brightest freedom.

1. Celebrating your wins

This one is so small and so stinkin’ easy to forget, but man, is it important!  How often do you stop and take time to celebrate your wins?  When you hit a new level in your workout, or accomplish something big at work or discover a new depth in your poetry, do you take time to celebrate?  Take a bath, pop a bottle, buy yourself something small and frivolous like a nice brand of tea or a new crystal, hug yourself, have a private dance sesh, put a gold star in your planner—whatever feels fun and celebratory, make sure you take time and do it!  This is so good for your self-love and self-confidence.

2. Rocking your style

Tomorrow morning, when you go to your closet, pick out the most YOU-nique outfit you can come up with. Craft that totally YOU, not-trying-to-fit-into-any-category, fan-tabulous outfit and wear it like you own the runway.  Throw on some shades too and tell yourself how awesome you are, how great you look, and how much fun you’re going to have all day long just knowing that you are feelin’ yourself in your original threads.

3. Expressing yourself

You had to see this one coming.  Pick up a pen and paper, grab some crayons, sing along to Shania Twain, dance around your apartment—whatever feels good and moves you, do it.  Self-expression is one of the most kind and loving things we can do for ourselves, but we must allow ourselves the space and time to do it.  In a world rushing way too fast, it can feel like these silly little gestures are unnecessarily cutting into our productivity schedule, but please do yourself a favor and let the light in.  Having fun isn’t a crime, it’s love-inducing.

4. Follow the joy breadcrumbs

Again, when we get so caught up in the hustle and grind, we forget to have fun and enjoy ourselves. What’s calling you to give it a try? What new experience piques your curiosity but seems out of reach?  Is there something you LOVE to do but haven’t made time for it lately? Stop fighting the crazy call to have fun with logic and get out there and give it a whirl!  It’s okay if you fail. It’s okay if there is no point to it.  It’s okay if you’re trying something “just because.”  Having fun is what fuels our joy, which fuels our creativity, which increases our fulfillment in life.  Follow your heart and you’ll love yourself more for it.

When we take time to love ourselves fully by totally embracing who we already are, we stop trying to hide behind facades. We quit playing charades, and we quit living in fear of what others are going to think. Instead, we create space for ourselves to dance freely, live vibrantly, and shine so brightly that others will inevitably be attracted to our joy and abundance. The ones who don’t get it will drop away, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You weren’t made to please everyone, you were made to be 100% YOU.

Take some time today to love yourself. Take a bubble bath, drink some tea, put your feet in the grass, and enjoy the breath in your lungs. You are incredible just the way you are, and you have nothing to prove to anyone. Love yourself first and foremost and the rest will fall into place.

How will you make freedom your priority today?