leisure-woman-mdnI’ve learned a lot from counseling other people and personal experience that a lot of anxiety and grief comes from refusing to accept reality.

A lot of times our perceptions or what we want things to be are out of line with reality. When we fight against that and refuse to accept to see things the way they are, it can create a lot of anxiety, depression, anger and neurotic behaviors. Ignoring reality keeps us stuck and doesn’t allow us to move on so that we can create and live a better, happier life.

We sometimes get stuck in relationships with partners, friends, and family members that need to be ended or at least changed in the way we deal with those people. Being in a relationship with an alcoholic for example, who refuses to stop drinking, while you hold on to the ideal that one day they will stop, will only disappoint and hurt you over and over again.

You have to see the person for who they are. That doesn’t mean you leave them if you don’t want to or stop trying to offer them help, it means that you align yourself more with reality so that everytime you find that person drunk you don’t take it personal and maybe it means you put more responsibilty on that person to attain sobriety instead of on yourself to do it for them. This will not only take a tremendous burdan from you, but it will also allow you to step back and see the situation more clearly.

The same goes for any relationship, including work.

Sometimes at work we make ourselves miserable, wishing things were different instead of accepting the reality of the way things are. By accepting reality, we can choose to either adjust to it so that we are able to maintain our sanity and a sense of accomplishment or we can decide that this particular job isn’t working for us and we need to move on. That’s what accepting reality does, it allows us to move on in little or big ways from situations that are not working for us.

Most of us don’t like change or for things to end, but often these things are necessary. Sometimes you have to leave one job to find a better one, or change the way you relate to a family member in order to have peace of mind. Beginnings, middles and ends all have their places in our lives and we can’t be afraid of them.

For example, few months ago I was hesitant to enter a new relationship becasue I hate beginnings and endings. I don’t like the feeling of having to “sell myself” or for someone to “sell themselves” to me, and I definitely don’t like the end of relationships. I prefer the middle, where everything is comfortable and stable and all the nuiances of the beginning have already been worked out, but no ending is in sight. However, you can’t get to the middle without the beginning so I had to accept that and I am glad I did as it has allowed me to not only get to know a wonderful person, but to explore myself and the way I am in relationships so that hopefully this relationship will have no ending.

Not accepting things can make us stay in dead relationships and jobs way too long out of fear of the unknown, and sometimes that is okay. Sometimes we are not ready or strong enough to make the change needed and we need some time to build our strength. This is not something to beat yourself up over because change takes preparation and when we are ready, when we feel strong enough, we will make the change necessary. No one can tell us when we are ready, but we’ll know. As long as we are accepting the reality of the situation, we will know when the time is right to make change.

Every real relationship we have, job we have, place we go has lessons for us to learn and once we’ve learned those lessons, it is often time to move on or to change something about ourselves. Making changes takes courage and faith and the ability to let go of fear, something I personally have to work on. We have to know that while change can be difficult and scary, we will be okay.

I personally believe that our lives are carefully and lovingly planned and that all of us are right where we are supposed to be. We aren’t off track or a mistake. We are currently, at this moment, right where we are supposed to be, with the people we are supposed to be with, for one reason or another. Each step is a lesson and change is usually just a progression of lessons. Sometimes people have to learn to love and be loved. To stand up for themselves. To stop wasting time and money on other people or wasting away at dead end jobs. Everything is a lesson and until we learn what the lesson is through acceptance, we’ll continue to be faced with the same challenges.

Once we’ve learned those lessons, we will be presented with new ones. It’s just the way the universe works.

Not all lessons we have to learn are painful, but sometimes we have to go through those painful lessons so that we can get to the lessons that are filled with love and happiness. By accepting reality and where we currently are, even if we don’t like that place, it will help us learn the lessons that situation has to teach us so that we can not only be grateful for them, but also move on.

People who struggle with acceptance usually end up creating a life for themsleves that is full of drama, heart ache, confusion, disappointment and regrets. Acceptance helps us take those lessons and become stronger, smarter and

Making Peace With The Worst Case Scenario

istock-peaceFear is a powerful emotion that keeps many of us from living life fully. It holds many of us hostage, too afraid to leave relationships, to start new careers or simply to try something new. Many people stay stagnant in life because they are afraid that if they reach for something different than what what they have, and fail, then they will lose more than they already have.

Maybe you are in a relationship that is emotionally abusive and you want to leave, but are afraid that by leaving you will be lonely and alone forever, so instead you stay in this relationship that is killing you emotionally.

That fear of what may happen can be so real and intense, that it keeps you from ever reaching out and seeking something that could be much more fulfilling and fruitful.

Because fear can rob us of precious time and experiences, it’s important that we learn how to control it the best we can and one way of doing that is by making peace with the worst case scenario. By making peace with the worst case scenario, it’s possible to take much of the fear out of fear itself.

Going back to our example, let’s say that the worst case scenario is being alone. When you make peace with the worst case scenario, you take some of the bite out of that fear. So what if you are alone forever, that will give you plenty of time do whatever you want to do, to get to know who you are without the complexities of another person molding you into the person they want you to be. It gives you plenty of time to become a self-actualized person, to give back to the community, the world, to become a philanthropist, a leader, or whatever you want to be because you don’t have to answer to anyone. And, when given the opportunity, loneliness can give way to solitude (please see my post Loneliness versus Solitude for more information).

The thing is, the likelihood of never dating again after the break up is extremely low and most of the time, our fears are largely irrational or over exaggerated .

How many times have you feared something, and once you actually experienced that fearful thing, it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be and you felt much better afterwards? Maybe you grew from the experienced in one way or the other. Making peace with the worst case scenario can help us realize that without having to go through the actual fearful situation.

On top of that, making peace with the worse case scenario can help bring clarity to a situation.

Just today I got an email from a student during the final minutes of school saying she was having dreams about killing herself and hasn’t been able to sleep. She ended her email “Please Help”. Immediately I responded to her email asking her where was she, and for her to come see me. I immediately contacted the class she was supposed to be in only to find out she hadn’t made it to class and had possibly left campus. It was the end of the school day and I wasn’t sure what else to do. This student has a history of suicide attempts and while she didn’t explicitly say she was thinking about killing herself in the email, the worst case scenario would be that she ended up committing suicide.

Looking at the worst case scenario in this way forces clarity. It made me ask myself, if that tragedy were to happen, can I say that I have done everything I was supposed to do in order to save this student. Did I do due diligence? Did I do the best I could to locate that student and make sure she was safe despite the fact classes were now over? Would I at least have some comfort in saying that I did everything I could have possibly done to save this child?

While processing this case with a coworker, I realized I hadn’t done all I could have done in the worst case scenario. I immediately went back and tried to contact both of her parents to no avail, then I called the sheriffs office and asked them to do a well-being check on her at home. It was only then that I felt I had done everything I could have reasonably have done, in the worst case scenario.

When you look at it this way, when you make peace with the worst case scenario, it is more likely that you have done everything in your power to prevent it, so that if it does come to pass, you can at least have solace in knowing that.

Fear doesn’t have to hold us hostage, it can actually free us if we learn how to embrace it and make it work for us, not against us.