Last week, I hurt my back during my workout. I went to the doctor, and the good news is that it is just a strained muscle. The bad news is that it hurts really bad, and I’ve been hobbling around like an 85-year-old. (No offense to any of my readers who are, in fact, 85. I’m sure you look better than I do right now.)
At first, my reaction to the injury was frustration. I was angry, and I wished that the injury didn’t happen. I was bummed I couldn’t exercise or do anything active. I was bored and restless from sitting around all day. In other words, I was resisting what had happened to me. I was pushing back against it.
This reaction didn’t help me very much. It didn’t change my situation—I still had a hurt back and that was my reality. None of my frustration or anger or wishing was doing anything to make my situation better. In fact, my reaction was making me even less happy. I had the back injury, AND I had to deal with all my frustration and anger on top of that.
Another option, which I struggled to do, was to accept what had happened. I needed to accept the fact that I injured my back, and I needed to rest and recover for a while. That was my reality. I didn’t particularly like my reality at the moment, but nothing I could do was going to change my reality.
This is a pretty common experience in life. Something happens to us, and we don’t have much control over the situation. We might get angry and frustrated, but if we can’t do anything to change the situation, all that energy has nowhere to go. Often it just makes us less happy.
The alternative is acceptance. When our reality is different from how we would like it to be, and we don’t have any power to change our situation, it might be time to practice acceptance. Acceptance aligns our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with the reality of the situation we are facing. Acceptance involves a yielding. The fact is that in our lives, the reality of our situation doesn’t always line up with what we want. That’s just the way life goes. We need to have acceptance in our toolbox.
After acceptance, I have found it helpful to think about whether there is anything I can learn from my situation. Is there a lesson, or something I can learn about myself, that can set me up for a better future?
The learning piece could be something very simple. For me, I was able to get in touch with my difficulties with yielding and accepting an outcome that is different from what I want. For example, I couldn’t work out, and it almost ruined my day. What’s with that? It’s probably good for me to learn how to deal with some of the normal ebbs and flows of life with a bit more grace. I also learned that I have poor mobility and should integrate more yoga into my exercise routine 🙂
When you find yourself frustrated or resisting what is happening to you, press the pause button. Is there anything you can do right now to control or improve your situation? If there is, by all means get moving and do that thing. But if there isn’t anything you can do to improve your situation, try acceptance. Recognize that life doesn’t always turn out how we want. See if you can be okay sitting with your reality right now, even if you don’t like it. Finally, think about whether there is anything you can learn from your situation. Is there anything you can take with you that will help you in the future?