Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Resignation

As I thought this morning about our recent discussions regarding personal change, it occurred to me that the missing ingredient for many of us may be the oft used, rarely understood word, accept. In this case the activity (yes, we're talking about the active verb to accept not the passive state of acceptance) would be self-focused. All personal change begins with accepting you and your situation.

This may at first seem counter-intuitive. You might be thinking, If I accept me and my situation, why would I ever change?

The way I see it is: If you don't accept who you are and your situation now, you'll never be able to facilitate significant change that lasts.

You see it all the time working with kids who struggle with developmental challenges such as autism and dyslexia. When the facilitator fully accepts (has no negative judgments about) the child and her situation, he is optimally ready to help her change. When he doesn't, when he sees the situation as bad, he compromises his capacity to help. He creates internal pressure to make progress. He becomes distracted by metrics and fear of failure. Although it would seem that the person who refuses to accept the situation will be more motivated and thereby a better facilitator, it's never the case.

When it comes to personal change the only real difference is that is that the facilitator and the child are one-in-the-same.

So, what do I mean by accept? To accept is to fully embrace a person or situation as it is and see it as good. It's more than the absence of negative judgment; it's the presence of positive judgment.

A lot of people buck at the idea of seeing a situation of child with autism as good. Nonetheless, you can see over and over that people who do are the ones best equipped to help.

To be clear, seeing a situation as good doesn't mean that you wouldn't want to change it. Let's say that you love to eat sushi; that wouldn't mean you wouldn't like pasta or steak or bibimbap or curry. Let's say that you love to play music and that you truly appreciate your skills and the sounds you produce; that wouldn't mean that you wouldn't want to practice and become an even better musician. You can fully accept something and still want something else.

To accept is not the same as to resign to. Acceptance is not giving up. Nonetheless, the path to true acceptance passes through resignation.

To fully accept you and your situation, you must come to the place where, even if nothing ever changes, you'd be happy. There can be no for now in the statement. Whatever your challenge, you have to decide that it's all good. What if I never get over being anxious or panicky? It's all good. What if I'm always going to struggle with overconsumption? It's all good. What if I never learn to play well? It's all good.

The reason that the never/forever component is so critical is that without it, it's easy to fake acceptance. Whenever for-now enters the picture you know you've still got latent judgments. So, true acceptance starts with resignation and finding all things good in that to which you're resigned.

The funny thing, at least in my person experience and my observations of the experience of others, is that happy resignation often leads to effortless change. It's quite amazing. The guy who decides that overeating and being overweight are awesome starts to feel less compeled to eat. They gal who decides that her saxophone playing is wonderful starts making giant leaps in her skill development.

So, perhaps today is the day that you become happily resigned to whatever it is you find challenging.

Happy Wednesday,


  1. Eureka! :o)

    I may have listened to it gazillions of times, but I never heard it. From my years of experience struggling I know even that doesn't mean a complete shift, but maybe just a little exhale. Many people speak of self-love, but there is never a manual on how to go about it and this just might be it :o)

    Thank you Teflon! May I also ask your permission to post it on our Study Group?


  2. Zhenya, congratulations!
    Please feel free to share my post.


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