“Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.” ~Unknown
A few weeks ago, I walked into my studio apartment and found it quite messy, which isn’t that hard to do with 325 square feet shared by a couple.
I’m talking clothes on the floor, dishes on the couch, and paper strewn everywhere. It had been one of those weeks where both my husband and I were ripping and running, having little to no time to manage household chores.
I looked around, took a deep breath, and sat down on the couch after moving some papers. I enjoyed some dinner with my husband and then went to bed. I got up the next morning feeling rested and cleaned the apartment joyfully and pretty quickly with him.
Why am I telling you this? You see, a few months prior I would have stressed out and felt totally guilty about the house being so junky. I would have gone into an entire inner dialogue about how I wasn’t organized enough and how I couldn’t keep things together.
This would have led me into a cleaning frenzy for the rest of the night and I would have went to bed feeling tired and depleted, waking up the next morning in an exhaustive funk.
In that moment of first opening the door, I learned to fully accept and be at peace with what was actually happening rather than beat myself up with lofty expectations of what I had wanted to happen.
It was a subtle yet important shift in my life. I walked in and rather than feeling bad about the mess, I simply acknowledged that the apartment was in disarray.
Yes, there were clothes strewn on the floor. Yes, I had been working many hours and didn’t have the time to do laundry. I also acknowledged that “messy” was a relative term, and I realized that I felt a bit of shame about having a messy place because of strict rules that I grew up with when I was younger.
I accepted the fact that the apartment was messy and that it was okay to not do anything at the very moment to tidy up. It was so simple, just a few moments, but I suddenly felt myself breathing easier as a result and sleeping a lot easier without the worry or the inner critics coming out to play.
Sometimes I think we have to learn how to accept what is so that we can find peace of mind no matter what kind of day we are having or what type of circumstance we encounter.
Peace is available to us all of the time, even when life seems to be out of our control. It may not feel like it, but beyond chaos is serenity, if we only accept it. Solutions to our problems are also clearer when we move into this place of peace.
When feeling a bit stressed out about high expectations, gently remind yourself to do the following:
Acknowledge what is here. Simply notice for a few seconds what you are feeling, experiencing, seeing, and hearing without any judgment. Also, notice if any judgment is coming from you or other people in your life.
Accept that situation fully as it is. No shame. No guilt. Just acceptance and lots of deep breaths.
Be open to the inner wisdom that you possess. There may not be an immediate solution and that is totally fine. Sometimes I think a good pause is just what we need before we take a next step.
You are enough just as you are. It is a beautiful thing to accept the fullness of your human experience rather than wishing it was anything different.
There will always be homes to clean, items on the to do list, obligations to fulfill, inboxes to clear, and schedules to make. In the midst of all that, there will always be peace and joy available to us if we simply notice.
May you find ultimate serenity as you let go of expectations and root into full acceptance of yourself and your life experiences.
Photo by Nickolai Kashirin