Thursday, May 3, 2007

Life on Life's Terms

Accepting "life on life's terms" is something that hasn't been easy for me. Life is filled with unexpected things that come up. Some of these are good things but others can be ones that cause a great deal of frustration, sorrow, or anxiety. I've always been able to deal with changes fairly easily and like to think of myself as being flexible. But these are changes over which I have some control. It's the changes that are beyond my control that seem to bother me the most. Some of those changes relate to a sense of loss that I had over people in my life and the changes that those losses brought about. Some changes are the result of the machinations of upper management on the job and the bureaucracy in which I work.

What I've come to realize is that these "heavy" losses or big changes are something that I can't control. They are a part of the complexity of life. There are always going to be unforeseen things that come up each day that I hadn't planned on. I used to get frustrated about those things, especially when the unforeseen involved my work. What I've found through my program is that if I simply roll with the punches and accept that things aren't always going to go smoothly, I can keep on an even keel.

So what I now do is look for a solution when some disappointment or frustration comes about. I don't throw my hands up anymore, curse, or fly off the handle. One of my staff noted the other day that I wasn't charging off to go "after" someone when an unexpected budget cut occurred. The "old" me used to fire off memos and be intimidating if something didn't go as planned. What I told her was that there are some things that are worth taking a stand on and there are others that no one can change. And that I've learned to pick my "battles" carefully. So I guess that the "new" me doesn't think that I have to give up and accept everything. I will still take a stand on those things that I think are important. That's where the courage to change the things that I can comes into the picture.

So when I used to let anger flare up around me or become indignant when things arose that didn't go the way that I thought they should, I now remember that life isn't going to go the way that I want it to. I didn't write the script. I'm just a bit player.

Acceptance can actually give me a lot more power than self-pity, anger, disappointment, or frustration. When those feelings arise, I acknowledge them but don't let them rule me anymore. I can make choices about how I'm going to react or if I'm going to react. I also try to look at all sides to the situation and see what role I can play and where the other person fits in. I can then choose to take some kind of action or I can just let it go.

…"Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life --unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake.......unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes." from Alcoholics Anonymous


  1. The attitude I have taken is that many things are just going to happen, whether or not I want them to happen or not.
    The difference today is that I am learning new ways to react to those things. Often, my best reaction is to do nothing!

  2. I like what you wrote about acceptance being not just about being a doormat and accepting everything, but picking your battles when you can affect change. I also like what you said about acknowledging your feelings but maintaining an ability to make choices rather than being ruled by them.

    I'm not sure what sort of work you do, but I have a hard time imagining you in a bureaucratic workplace. Especially when you talk about the water, boats and garden things. I assume that photo is a picture from your own yard? Incongruity is nice too, though.

  3. cool. sounds like a great balance. neither a doormat, nor being dragged around by the hair by your emotions. excellent!

    One way I look at it, is I think, will I CARE about this in a years time? It’s SO ! easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. I am ALWAYS glad that I bit my tongue and didn’t tell them what I thought of them when I got a bit heated!
    You've done very well for less than a years work in al anon, i have to say..

  4. I love where you speak of looking for a solution when a disappointment comes up. It seems my life is full of them these days, and you hit it on the head when you referred to the Italian as a dangerous A**hole!! He tries to be intimidating. It works. But I will take something from your writings today nd I will no longer choose to engage. Thanks for sharing!



Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.