A few weeks ago my family and I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Art to visit the Dancing with Renoir exhibit. For me, it was a soul-satisfying exhibit- being thisclose to something so beautiful and enduring.
When we first left the parking garage, though, we weren’t quite sure where we were or in which direction we should head to get to the museum.
We looked like a cartoon: two adults pointing at a map, waving at the street signs and two kids running around our legs. While it’s funny to think of now, at the time it was exasperating.
Not knowing where you are sucks.
You Are Here
When we can’t find our bearings in an unfamiliar place we can get frustrated. We may feel anxious and worried. Maybe get a little tense, too. My kids got whiny and impatient while my husband and I tried to orient ourselves.
But then we decided to accept our predicament and go ask for help.
And we found (actually ran into) this handy map inside a nearby mall. It had one of those red arrows that said, “You are here.” Suddenly, we knew where we were.
And that meant we knew how to get to the museum.
How much easier life would be with the little red arrow.
When we’re dealing with a health issue (or, really, any issue) it can be a struggle to figure out where we are. There’s no handy ‘You are here’ arrow for life.
When we’re in unfamiliar territory, we may question ourselves, we may question what we’re doing, and we may be unclear about what results we want (to get healthy, to get unsick, to get the f-ck out of the hospital?).
And when we struggle with any of those things, we also struggle with what steps we should take in order to reach our goal.
Trying to reach health goals when we don’t really know where we are can be just as depleting as trying to find the MFA when you don’t really know Boston.
Making the ‘You are here’ arrow show itself
We can try all number of things to help us find our bearings in a health struggle. But when we accept where we are in our health struggle, the magic red arrow shows up. We can say, “I am here.”
This not only gives a sense of relief. It also makes it easier to see what options are available- to see which streets we might travel down to get to our desired health destination.
So, what is acceptance then?
Acceptance is believing that the facts are true. And dropping any story or interpretation about the facts. It is being present with what is or has happened- as if you were sitting in a chair next to it.
You’ll know when you find acceptance, because some part of you will relax- a little give in the gut, a little softening of the heart, a little tension drops from your temples. That’s acceptance finding it’s physical form.
Maybe some examples would help (right?!?).
Here are some of the things I have accepted in the last two weeks:
Intellectual: The flyer for my new class is not written.
Now that I’ve accepted this as a fact, I can decide what action to take next: will I write it? When? What do I want it to look like? Et cetera.
Business: I had a crappy internet connection on vacation.
This was easier to take as I had a tasty lemonade wine cooler to keep me company while I waited for my blog to upload (with 5% alcohol- bless the Canadians, they know how to ease acceptance).
Emotional: I ended a friendship.
Accepting this fact has not meant taking action (like writing a flyer). Instead, it has meant also accepting the ebb and flow of emotion that comes from this decision (“I accept the deep wave of grief right now….and now I accept that it has receded.”)
Physical: I am tired.
Accepting the depth of my tiredness made me cry. But once I really understood how deep it went, I knew what to do. I knew which projects to scale down on, what to postpone, and when to fit in some naps.
Some of these examples are funny, some are everyday-life stuff. The point is that I had to see the facts as they were. This is the key to acceptance. And acceptance showed me exactly where I was- and where to go next.
When we accept the facts as they are, we relax (even if I don’t like it, it is the way it is). And when we relax we can see more options for how to solve our problem, reach our goal, and get healthy & healed. Or visit the MFA.