When I first connected to this question it was like something cracked open inside of me to let the light in. I was sitting in my psychologist’s office listing off all the things I needed to fix about myself. She looked at me, bemused. When I stopped talking, she stared me right in the eye and asked:
What if there is no problem?
The world stopped. Everything since that moment has changed for the better.
The transformation in me came from a simple realization--I am not a problem.
I had been thinking of myself negatively for as long as I could remember. Want the recipe for permanent unhappiness? I had it. I fixated on the belief that, when I sorted out the problem that was me, everything would make sense. I kept myself miserable and suffering for a long time.
I was pretty adept at using personal development as a weapon of self-destruction. I could identify all my personal failings and the back story to them with ease. But it brought me no peace. I was always at odds with myself.
In that moment of cracking open what was concealed for so long became clear. The perfect version of me didn’t exist. The need for it kept me from my own happiness. And the problems of my life, well, were they?
No matter how grievous or painful or humiliating or shameful or despairing or enraging my experiences were, they were just life. It was my story about them that made them good or bad. And when I saw it in that way, I was free to live my life. I was no longer defeated by it.
But this is not the end of the story. As I went deeper into my own self-acceptance, something remarkable happened in my relationship with the world. What if all the problems are not a problem?
I noticed as observed from this perspective that we are attuned to look at the events of the world as a problem. We are trained to create a problem of life. We are taught to measure our reality by what we do not yet have or that which we have lost.
We are not trained to accept that this is just life happening. And good or bad, this too, shall pass. When we switch the filter from “problem” to “acceptance” the fear begins to dissipate.
I am not suggesting for one minute that the problems stop. The problems don’t stop. In fact, the more self-aware we become, the more aware we are that the problems of the world are endless. But our worry doesn’t transform the situation we are experiencing or seeing. It only adds to it.
What if I stop seeing problems at all? What if all that is needed is the shift in perspective? Reducing the world to its problems doesn’t let us embrace reality as a continuum of experience. It is life happening. This shift set me free to act.
I moved from overwhelm to empowerment, emboldened by my acceptance of what is. In accepting what is, I could take action to make necessary change.
Acceptance of myself was the gateway to my personal peace. Shifting my perspective was as simple as changing my focus. Surrendering judgement is a radical act. But it is possible. I began by letting go of the addiction to judging myself. Next up, I stop judging the world. And perhaps, the peace I found in me can be found out there too.