Learning Radical Acceptance

Acceptance is the silent song I try to play to myself each day. Each day I am getting better at putting the notes together and creating something beautiful in the process. This past week or so, I have felt a little lighter than I normally do. The air doesn’t feel quite as thick and the heaviness of my mind has subsided. In the past couple of weeks, the pressures of life haven’t been these typical omnipresent forces looming over my being, poking and prodding me with self-doubt and tension around every corner. I think I am getting better about not putting pressure on myself. I don’t have to have solved every little detail of my life for me to find peace. I don’t have to have some grand, super specific plan for what I am going to do in the future and how I am going to make my life better. I know I have options for the future and that is good enough for right now. I am okay with vague ideas.

I think for so long I put undue pressure on myself to have a specific plan for the day and to have a specific plan for the future. I need to write today so I feel creative and productive. I need to listen to a podcast or an audiobook so that I feel like I’m not stagnant or ignorant. I need to go visit with my family out of obligation. Plans are great and all but it’s okay not to have them. Just taking a deep breath and letting the weight of my life fall at my feet can be so revitalizing. Yes, I have goals and interests and relationships that are important to me but I am not going to pursue them so frantically and against my will in the moment so that I lose focus on myself and my earnest interests. I am tired of not being true to myself. I am tired of doing things out of dispassionate obligation. I am enough. Period. And no relationship or accomplishment or lack thereof is going to diminish that fact. I am enough and I don’t have anything to prove to myself or anyone.

Sometimes in life I feel like I just need to take a step back and learn to relax. Be in the moment. Appreciate what I have. Be grateful for the journey and the progress I have made. Know that I am doing my best. I can be okay with not having a plan or a goal for the day. It’s okay if I want to do nothing but relax today. I used to get down on myself for playing video games. “You’re wasting your time.” “You have others things to be doing.” “Aren’t you too old for those games?” This was the voice I would listen to and take to heart. But truth is, I like video games, hell I love them. They offer a temporary escape for me and they are something I genuinely enjoy doing when I have the time. I am tired of feeling shamed. It no longer serves me. And so now I play video games, guilt free and it is amazing. Mental health is important. Work-life balance is important. So much of the time our culture pushes us to do more and more and more. We are told that what we lack can be solved with effort and hard work. I am tired of the pressure. Who is anyone to tell me what I lack? I know myself and I love and respect myself. I can put trust in the moment and follow my intuition to do whatever it is I am going to do.

I think this has been one of the biggest things I have taken away from therapy is learning radical acceptance. It is a total acceptance of the moment and all the chaos and uncertainty that may or may not be there. Acceptance of myself as all that I ever need to be is so crucial. I am enough. Right here, right now. Our culture exploits insecurity for profit. I am trying to be more mindful of the things I consume on social media. Rabbit holes are everywhere. It is so easy to get lost in the world of self-help and self-improvement (ironic considering I have a self-help blog). It is so easy to create disingenuous goals out of the content I consume. They can be things that aren’t even true to my wishes or intentions for life.

There are so many people out there willing to scam you because of your insecurity. No, most of us can’t do or be anything we want. There are very real constraints and barriers people face. It’s a lie held up most prominently in our consumer culture and being constantly told that we can do anything can create its own sense of anxiety, insecurity, confusion, and sense of urgency. Truth is, there are elements outside of people’s control. You can bust your ass all of your life and be extremely talented and never see anything for it. Not everyone can be successful in the ways that they tell you. I am learning to define success a different way now. I don’t need anyone to tell me what my goals or dreams should be. This is my life. Sometimes it’s an uphill battle just to get out of bed and I can be proud of these little victories.

Ultimately, this is my life. I decide what I want to get out of it within the reality of my situation. And that’s really it, just being honest about where I find myself right now and giving myself realistic expectations. I don’t know what the future holds but I can carry the light of my dignity and self-worth with me through the darkest of days. I know I am a survivor and a warrior. I know that I face challenges in my own mind that no one but myself could possibly begin to understand. I know I still have anxiety but each week I am getting better at accepting it and contextualizing it in a realistic and manageable way. There is no magic pill to success or peace. My anxiety is not going away. My drive for more is not going away. But I can at least put these feelings in a framework of self-compassion and acceptance and learn to ride the wave of my thoughts and emotions instead of being pummeled in the wake of them. No matter what I do or don’t do today, I am going to give myself some grace. I love myself and I am proud of the silent challenges I overcome every day just living with mental illness. And that is enough.

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