The surprising benefits of acceptance

In my last blog I asked you to let go of your dream of motherhood and today I’d like to dig deeper into another huge subject which comes with letting go, acceptance.

Let me start with a huge apology. I appreciate what I’m asking you to do is huge and most likely this is a place you don’t want to go. The only thing which drives me is the wish for you to find the happiness and joy waiting for you on the other side of letting go. I know it’s there because I’ve found it, the 19 other storytellers in Finding Joy have found it, as have many other childless women. I write about these huge topics because care I don’t want you to continue to feel sad. So the only thing which drives me is love.

And as you will read, there are benefits to be found in acceptance.

So deep intake of breath..… letting go of the dream of becoming a mother means accepting life as it is. There we go I’ve said it. And I do know I’m asking you to do something incredibly hard and my guess is you’re feeling huge resistance.

But please bear with me, please give me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned, so I ask you to please read on with an open mind.

What do I mean by acceptance?

In his book ‘The Way of the Five Seasons,’ John Kirkwood describes acceptance as meaning ‘assenting to the reality of a situation without attempting to change it, protest against it or run away from it. This does not mean that we have to like the situation or give wholehearted support to it, but there is a simple recognition of the truth that this is the way things are in this moment.

I encourage you to read this phrase again, and absorb every word. For me, the key words are those in bold, that you don’t have to accept that life will be like this forever, but just in THIS moment. And then THIS moment …. Because life is really just a line of moments strung together, isn’t it?

Looking back, acceptance was the key for me

Looking back over the past couple of years, I realise that acceptance has been the key to my healing. For years, I refused to accept the need to grieve and fought it with every fibre of my being. Until I couldn’t. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t outrun grief; you can run as fast as you like, but eventually it will catch you.

And let’s remember that acceptance means accepting the positive too. As John Kirkwood continues….., ‘acceptance is a posture that it full, alive, present to life and an active welcoming of whatever is happening.’ … ‘It is a breathing in of life in all its manifestations. It is an active meeting of life in the moment, a simple recognition of that which is right here, right now.

Breathing in of life in all its manifestations.. I love that too. So acceptance is about being present to everything that comes up, in each moment, knowing that it will pass. Both the sad and the happy. So when I feel overwhelmed by a wave of grief, I accept it, and joy, I accept that too.

Accepting the reality of my life in each moment has opened up so much. That energy I was using wishing and hoping that life was different has been freed up for other things. And with acceptance has come peace. Incredible peace. And, of course joy.

I’d like to share a poem by Rumi with you, I’ve seen it quoted in several books and it describes very eloquently the point I want to make.

The Guest House by Jalaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

With acceptance comes release

As Rumi says, we can learn a lot from each emotion we invite into our house. I also know from personal experience how much of a challenge this can be. When you’re in the middle of hurt, all you want is for the tears to stop, but you learn so much more by staying with it and feeling it.

Before I allowed these guests into my house my life was miserable. My door was closed to the ‘dark’ feelings like sadness and grief, and it was also closed to the ‘light’ so there was very little happiness and joy in my life. I know from experience that when you stop and surrender to the hurt that comes with acceptance, when you really open yourself to feeling pain, you also open your heart to feeling happiness and joy.

I appreciate I’m asking you to do something incredibly hard; there will be times when you feel that your heart is broken, and there will also be opportunities to rebuild yourself and your life and restore yourself to wholeness.

And relief

There’s a real sweetness in the surrender, as you truly say yes to the life that’s here, now. Part of the grieving process is about accepting what is and letting go of what cannot be. As I wrote in the previous blog, the dream of becoming a mother is taking up a lot of space and there’s no room for other dreams.

And the huge gift is that you get to live your life fully. Because as we both know, you’re not really living now, are you?

This is my story and it can be yours too. Before I surrendered to acceptance I was exhausted. And now, in addition to living a very joyful life, several people have said I look 10 years younger. I agree with these words by Patti Smith completely, for me acceptance was the opportunity to become myself and to be comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life.

What’s next for you?

Before I ask you the inevitable questions, I’ll end with an apology. I truly understand what I’m asking you to do is huge; to let go of something you’ve been dreaming about for your whole life. But your heart knows it’s not going to come true, doesn’t it? So consider these questions …

What if happiness and joy are there for you on the other side of letting go?

What if accepting the reality of life were to bring you the release and relief it brought me?

I know it’s not the life you wanted, and it can still be happy one. Trust me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my blog and the questions. Please leave a comment below (you don’t have to use your own mane).

Thank you

You’ll find more on letting go and how to do it in Chapter Seven of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness and if you purchase the book you’ll have access to 10 video interviews with the story tellers and other downloads.

You can read book reviews and interviews I’ve done here.
And you can order your copy on  Amazon UK  and Amazon USA


7 thoughts on “The surprising benefits of acceptance”

  1. Honestly,…..Every time you mention giving up dream of motherhood I feel physically sick!!!!!!…..even though I know it’s true……Do feel it’s a bit like going to dentist for root canal work without pain relief!!!!!!!…….but I perserver and I am blessed and kicking and screaming am moving forward,,……plus poem is amazing… thankful for your blog courage and care …..that you share with others xxx

    • Thank you for your honesty & vulnerability Caron,
      Moving forward is a slow process, and I’m so glad you realise that you are & most importantly, that you can.
      Lesley xx

  2. I am always so amazed reading your posts. They resonate so deeply within me, that I am left thinking that you must know me on a personal level. It motivates, and scares, me to take your words to heart and try to live them…acceptance….. The words make complete sense, yet every being of me is fighting it because it is just not fair. I know life is not fair, but I feel like with acceptance must come some level of understanding and peace. I will keep reading your words for more strength and my goal is to see the world as you do!
    Thank you for being so strong!

    • Thank you so much Michelle, I’m not sure what to say, yes I agree with you completely that life isn’t fair. Not one bit.
      You’re also right that peace came with acceptance, for me anyway. And I guess in part it’s letting go of that feeling that life isn’t fair which helped me to get that peace.
      I’m sure from your words that you’ll get where you want to go, please believe that yourself.
      Lesley x

  3. I agree it is exhausting trying to resist emotions of “I don’t want this” rather than welcome them in, so I really like the visualisation of being a guest house to welcome and know that emotions will eventually pass through. The quote from John Kirkwood with its confirmation that you don’t have to “like a situation or give wholehearted to it” but a simple truth in accepting that this is the way things are, really helps with my own present situation. It’s reassuring to know I can accept it but I don’t have to like it or be “cheerful” about it. Thank you Lesley for your reassurance and wise words to encourage us all to hang on in there and keep doing the work!

    • Exactly Ali,you certainly don’t have to be cheerful, you don’t have to like it at all, just accept it in THIS moment.
      Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.
      Lesley x

  4. I am not motherless but I certainly can recognize the fact that you are an amazing woman. Kind, compassionate but even more than that, you have practical ideas that make sense for the struggles of life in general. Bless you!!!


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