“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Viktor Frankl
I learned a big lesson this week. It’s been a lingering challenge that has popped up in many ways recently. Mostly it’s presented itself in other people, or rather, in the qualities of other people.
Over the last few months, I’ve been introduced to quite a few new acquaintances, and I’ve continuously come up against traits that I considered ugly, like arrogance, materialism, insecurity, and ignorance.
It really riled me up to the point that I felt a physical change in myself.
I interpreted their taste for expensive things as a sign that they were hiding behind material objects. I interpreted their obvious mask to the world as another hiding mechanism. And what I perceived as stupid life choices I thought were a form of escaping their real selves.
In essence, I felt that all of these traits were an attempt to cover up their own insecurities, for fear of not being accepted completely for who they are, who they really are.
Why were these people so…unaware?
It infuriated me.
Each time I was triggered by a person with these traits I would think to myself “Not this again. When will I finally be rid of this uncomfortable feeling?”
Then it hit me. Several times.
I realized that the traits I noticed in others were just a reflection of myself. The traits that really peeved me off were traits I did not accept within myself.
I also like to buy nice, expensive things sometimes. There are moments in my life where I wear a mask to not reveal all of myself. And in the past, I made some decisions to avoid what I was really feeling within.
This was shocking to me because it meant I was passing judgment, not just on the other person but also on myself. It meant that I was not accepting myself fully, completely, wholly.
And trust me, just accepting that fact was a lot to take in.
I’ve always thought myself to be a person with confidence and a great belief in myself. But apparently, there were a few more things that I needed to learn about loving and accepting myself.
No one is perfect. And we need to accept ourselves as we are, flaws and all.
As we go through life, challenges arise to help us keep growing. We’re human and we have layers. Just when we think we’ve learned something, life comes along and shows us there’s more.
Here are some tips that have helped me accept and grow with my most recent life lesson.
1. Don’t beat yourself up.
No matter how easy it is to say to yourself, “Why can’t you just get over this?” allow yourself the time to learn the lesson at your own pace. Challenges can hit a raw nerve within us. Sometimes we need to take it step by step and nurture ourselves in the process. Be nice and gentle to yourself!
2. Observe your thoughts and emotions.
Awareness is the first step in acknowledging any life challenge. How are you responding to a particular event, circumstance, or person? What are your initial feelings? And why are you feeling this way?
Asking yourself some important questions can help you understand why you are having such a profound response to something. Don’t censor yourself to sound like a good person. Be truthful. It’s the only way to find out what’s really beneath it all.
3. Shift the focus back to you.
Our outer world is a reflection of what’s going on within us because we project our own thoughts and feelings onto other people and events. We give it our own meaning.
Remember, we can’t change other people, the past, or circumstances out of our control. All we can change is ourselves. Shift your focus back onto yourself and realize that you have the power to change your life.
4. Accept what you cannot change.
I know it’s easy to resist your circumstances, and blame other people and events. Sometimes we just have to accept it, breathe through it, and know that this is happening because it’s time for us to grow.
5. Celebrate your growth.
When you’ve learned the life lesson, celebrate! After all, you’ve just taken another step in evolving as a human being. Rejoice in the fact that you can handle whatever life throws at you and become a better person because of it.
Life is pretty amazing. We all hit a few road bumps along the way, but eventually the road gets smooth again. As long as we’re learning lessons as we go, there’s no reason we can’t sit back and enjoy.