success quotes

The One Thing You Must Know To Get Through ANYTHING

No One Said You Have to Like It

We accept our experience not because we want it, but because it is already here. Shauna Shapiro

Somehow, an idea has come about in the world of self-help that we should enjoy the adversities that life brings our way.

Embrace your fears.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Think outside the box.

Blah, blah, blah.

I’m a little tired of these trite sayings for a couple of reasons.

First, sometimes things just suck.

Losing your house to foreclosure sucks.

Getting a divorce sucks.

Having a chronic illness sucks.

Being laid off from your job sucks.

There’s no getting around it.

Life is really hard sometimes and putting a positive spin on it can lead to my second problem with stale platitudes.

In addition to life sucking for you at the moment, reading bullet points about how to make it all better can actually make you feel worse because you end up shoulding on yourself.

“I should be able to handle this better.”

“I’m engaging my fears and facing them like I’m supposed to. I should feel better.”

“This blog post I’m reading says I should get out of my comfort zone. I’m really uncomfortable. I’m following all the bullet points in this post, I should feel different.”

“I should be better but I’m not. I must be doing something wrong.

I’m here to tell ya, you’re not doing anything wrong.

You’re just having a moment – perhaps a really long moment – in life that sucks. And when things suck, you feel bad.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

No one said you have to like adversity.

Well, I guess some writers imply that you should, but it’s not true.

See, there’s a difference between accepting something and liking it.

You can certainly accept that you are going through a really crappy time without liking it.

As Shauna Shapiro says, “We accept our experience not because we want it, but because it’s already here.”

The word accept comes from an Old French word, accepter, which meant “to take what is offered.” Later, the word acquired the meaning of “to take or receive willingly.”

Again, I would argue that you can receive something willingly without necessarily liking it or being happy about it.

Case in point:

My late partner, Ruth, had metastatic breast cancer. Early in the process, we were scared and unhappy about the side effects the chemotherapy was causing.

Ruth railed about it to her oncologist, who sat on a little rolling stool looking at her attentively.

Finally, he spoke.

“Ruth, don’t resist.

“Accept the chemotherapy as it comes into your body and allow it to do its healing work.”

Notice that he did not say that she needed to enjoy the process, like the side effects, or be happy about her experience.

He just directed her to accept it without resistance.

And she did. We both did.

Did we like the fact that she had sores inside her mouth, was achingly fatigued, and had ongoing nausea?

No.

We did not like her experience at all, but we accepted it without resistance because it was already there. There was no getting around it; we had to go through it.

So, what did this stance of acceptance what was already there do for us?

It allowed us to compartmentalize the experience. To say to ourselves, “While we don’t like this part of it, we accept the experience as a whole.”

It allowed us to hold two opposites at the same time: We disliked the side effects of the chemotherapy while laughing at them.

At one time, Ruth had to wear adult diapers because of unpredictable episodes of diarrhea. She made a remark once that the diapers looked like those things Sumo wrestlers wear. From then on, they became known as “Sumo pants.”

“I’m out of Sumo pants – can you pick some up for me at the store on your way home?”

“Do you think these Sumo pants make me look fat?”

Did Ruth like her diarrhea? Was she happy about it?

Not exactly.

But she accepted it because it was there even though she felt frustrated at times.

By the time Ruth’s cancer was diagnosed, it had already spread to her liver – the worst thing that can happen.

According to the statistics at the time, she should have lived between nine and eighteen months.

Ruth lived for four years with advanced metastatic cancer and I believe it was because she decided not to resist it or the treatment.

She didn’t like her cancer or the experience, but she accepted it.

Not only did she outlive the statistical expectations, but her life was greatly enriched during her time with cancer because of this very idea of accepting something willingly and without resistance.

She died a very happy, content person without regrets.

What can be better than that?

So I’m not going to end this with bullet points.

Because you don’t need them.

You understand the idea: you don’t have to like adversity in your life. Sometimes things suck.

That’s okay.

Don’t like it and accept it willingly.

Like Ruth, your life will be richer, too.

Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping you face life’s significant challenges and regain your resiliency. Download her free ebook, “Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.” You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com and follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bobbiemel) and Twitter (@BobbiEmel.)

  • http://twitter.com/Ani_LifeProb Ani

    Bobbi  I really like your style… It seems that you hahve found your voice already :) congrats!
    O ya and the post was great btw

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks, Ani!

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    I appreciate your incredibly person story, Bobbi. Sometimes life isn’t fair and even if you don’t like it, what else can you do?

    I’m glad you found that acceptance was ultimately the key to getting through the roughest times because acceptance is often the hardest step.

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Yes, acceptance is a difficult step. Ruth and I were very lucky to have a wise doctor who taught us this early on.

  • http://www.aboutteablog.com/chamomile-tea/ Allan @ Chamomile Tea

    hey Bobbi,

    thank for you sharing your insights into accepting even our toughest experiences… if men and women would think and act more like a river (who doesn’t resist anything) they’ll be happy people

    now, nobody says that’s an easy thing to do… however, it’s better to recognize the situation and accept reality, rather sooner than feeling sorry.

    I like this quote that I wanted to share with you

    “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

    - Jimmy Dean, American country music singer, television host, actor, and businessman

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Great quote, Allan –  thanks! And your own words are spot-on, too!

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    Acceptance is so difficult precisely because what we must accept so often does indeed suck. But we still need to accept it nonetheless. Fighting against ourselves while life sucks only makes things suck even more.

    We do need to face our fears. We do need to go beyond our comfort zone.

    Because it’s hard. Because things never improve until we do.

    But it must start with acceptance, and  that is the hardest thing. Acceptance represents truth we’d often stay blind to. That helps no one.

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story Bobbi. I appreciate your no B.S. style.

    Cheers!

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks, Trevor!

      Yes, resistance does make the thing that sucks even worse. So why do it?

      Part of the reason we do it is just human nature. The trick is to learn to be aware of what resistance feels like so we can nip it in the bud.

  • http://www.saysaga.com/ Selim Yeniceri

    Bobbi, you provide insightful content here, and I like reading your posts. You have a “down to earth” approach, and I admire it. Yes, we don’t have to like something happens to us, but we learn to accept it, and gain from it.

    This post reminded me two games: I like the game chess, because it reflects the battleground, and it helps you develop your strategical mind. However, I like backgammon more, because it reflects “life.” Why? Because, while you have to strategize to play this game, you also have to roll the dice, and I see it as the events in your life; sometimes you roll 6:6, and sometimes 2:1. And sometimes even the lowest number you roll may save your ass at a critical point. You understand what I mean, right? Well worded, Bobbie, congratulations and thanks for sharing such posts with us. http://www.saysaga.com

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks for your unique insight into this idea, Selim. It’s true that life isn’t always quite as strategic as chess, is it? Sometimes we don’t have a lot of control over what will happen when the dice are rolled, so we better be ready to accept whatever turns up!

  • Jasoncoroy

    Very inspiring and so true. You and Ruth, just helped another, make their life better. Thank you.

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks, Jason!

  • Sumitha

    I’ve been “shoulding” myself a lot lately, and the problem is, it leaves you more frustrated than before…. a simple “this sucks” moment snowballs into an “I suck” moment, which invariably translates into a “you suck” towards someone closest to you and before you know it, you’d wish you had the sense to stop it at just the “this sucks” and let the moment pass. 

    Thanks Bobbi, I needed to read this today… hopefully, I will be able to grit my teeth and get through my “this sucks” moment that I’m in the middle of right now without letting it boil over…

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Sumitha, I love how you figured out exactly how this can grow out of control and summed it up so succinctly. It IS better just to leave it at “this sucks”, isn’t it? I’m sorry you’re in one of those moments right now. :-( I’m sending positive thoughts that the moment passes quickly for you.

  • http://www.RebootAuthentic.com/ Gary Korisko

    As usual, Bobbi – you make life’s difficult situations much easier to discuss and deal with. Like you, I try to bear life’s “sucks” moments, overcome (or get past) them – and above all learn something from them. Nice job!

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks, Gary!

  • http://www.chrisakins.com/ Chris Akins

    Bobbi – simply awesome.  Acceptance is a paradox.  The more we accept, the more resilient we become, and the more we can direct our lives to where we want them to go.  (And that includes accepting not only situations and others, but yourself as well).

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Chris, you’ve said in a couple of lines what it took me a whole post to express! Thanks for your kind words and your insights about acceptance.

      • http://www.chrisakins.com/ Chris Akins

        Hi Bobbi. Thanks for the compliment!

  • http://www.thoughtful-self-improvement.com/Metaphors-for-Life.html Natalie

    You are so-o-o right.

    When you are in the grips of a terrible event you need some time to complain and vent.  Then accept that is sucks and hurts.

    The last thing you need is to beat yourself up for feeling bad about what happened. That only makes you feel worse.

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks for your insights, Natalie!

  • http://twitter.com/GoalsHappenHere Goals Happen Here

    Acceptance is so important….it dissolves all the resistance, and pretending you like something when you don’t just increases the resistance. Great article!

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks, Goals Happen Here! And you’re right, acceptance does dissolve resistance. Unless we’re accepting something just to make ourselves feel better or trying to get rid of our negative feelings. Then we’re just adding even more resistance.

  • Maria

    wonderful post 

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Thanks, Maria!

  • http://www.financialbailoutnews.com/tips-for-keeping-the-value-of-your-car/ Morgan@Financial Bailout News

    Acceptance is the most important and difficult step to take during times of hardship, thank you for sharing your story!

    • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

      Yes, you’re right, Morgan, it is the hardest step. But it is the first one and the most important.

  • http://goalsetting-workshop.com/blog/ Jorge Blanco

    Right. It’s all about accepting things for what it is. Something like, I accept that this has happened to me. I do not like the way this is making me feel, but I’ll make it work somehow. I’ll do something about it but let me feel bad right now.

  • http://www.passiveproductive.com/ Sam Matla

    Wow, what a moving post! I’m all for this. Another point is when people say, “Just remember there’s someone else there that’s worse off than you.” I can’t stand people saying that, I mean I know it’s a plea for people to be grateful and stuff, but at the end of the day it’s about how we feel personally. We need to accept what comes our way sometimes, ultimately there is events that are unavoidable and that’s just the way it is.

    Thanks!

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  • EV22

    This is so true.  I once had a close college friend who confided that she was jealous of me “because I always got what I wanted”.   Shocked, I fumbled to explain that I certainly don’t always “get what I want,” but that I supposed I did “try to want what I get”.   I wish I could have shown her this article – “accepting what I get” is what I was trying to explain.  This is sometimes what helps me get out of bed in the morning, to a flooding basement in our new home, the reality of one of multiple miscarriages in my healthy early 20s, and not to forget all the incredible goodness in my life.  No one has a completely charmed or perfect life, even if that’s how others might perceive it.  However, for me, like for your partner, it allows me to live surprisingly happily and without regrets.  Thank you for this post and for connecting that crucial piece for me – that it is “acceptance” and not “trying to want what I get” that is the key to getting through “anything.”

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  • Gautham ponnaganti

    that’s just amazing thinking what you said
    all our life all are worries are about having to go through bad times
    once we stop bothering about it what can possibly make us sad ??

  • http://www.anxiety-help-uk.com/ Ian Bracegirdle

    Hi Bobbi Thanks for the thoughts it reflects and reinforces my understanding.

    As I worked therapeutically with clients I began to realise that acceptance is the key for the start of all work on your self. Accepting just where you are at is sometimes very hard though, so I back tracked a bit  and created s series of steps.
    1. Be aware of where you are at.
    2. Acknowledge it.
    3. Learn about it.
    4. Accept it.

    This gives a mental place to build from, not to fight from. I have discovered that fighting yourself hurts more when you are in a bad place.

    Once you can accept yourself as you are then life becomes fuller and the personal internal battles reduce ( but never go away completely ). Then progression is through to appreciation of yourself which can lead to the sense of loving who you are.

    The other side of this is how we accept and treat other people. When we accept and appreciate others as we do ourselves then relationships change too.

  • http://twitter.com/WealthyWW Ivan Chan

    Bobbi,

    Great post!

    Finally, someone who isn’t giving us another bullet list of how we should look on the bright side when things go bad! Blah blah blah indeed.

    You’re right that sometimes life just suck. And that’s OK. After all, how will we ever appreciate good days if we don’t have bad days to compare things to? Sometimes we can change bad things, other times we can’t. In cases where we can’t change anything, I think we can relieve a lot of our stress if we simply accept things as they.

    There’s just no sense in trying to run away from reality when there’s nothing we can change about it.