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Reject Resignation — Accept Your Power
What you cannot control doesn't control you — unless you let it. You get to choose exactly how you play with everything given to you.
You can read a shorter version of this full-length blog post on LinkedIn.
Resignation is a deep-rooted human program that makes us believe we are powerless in the face of the forces beyond our control.
Acceptance is rooted in your power, knowing that you are not controlled by forces beyond your control. You have the power to control how you deal with everything. It starts by not controlling that which is beyond your control.
Resignation looks like acceptance, the difference is where both are rooted. Resignation is rooted in powerlessness, acceptance is rooted in power.
A client recently shared about her father's terminal illness. She was struggling with the fact that he had caused it with bad lifestyle choices — and continued those habits post-diagnosis.
She had deep resentment that he was throwing caution to the wind and living his last days doing exactly what had caused the illness — eating and living without any consideration of the consequences.
She felt powerless when her father ignored all the warnings and directives of the doctors.
She found acceptance for the fact he was about to die, but she was still fighting the fact that her father was making the "wrong choices".
"He could at least live a little longer if he did what the doctors said!"
She realized her father was beyond her control. And she chose to feel powerless as a consequence. She resigned to fate.
This situation is more common that one would think. A loved one "killing themselves" with bad lifestyle choices and habits — it could be smoking, drinking, anger, anxiety, diet, work, and numerous other self-destructive habits.
You want to control them, heal them, make them live longer. They may listen for a while and then they go back to it. You keep getting disappointed. Eventually you resign in frustration. But that is not acceptance.
You feel powerless because you cannot control what you believe is in your control. And that is where you are wrong. You cannot control others. Yet, you don’t have to feel powerless.
What is beyond your control doesn't own you. You get to choose exactly how you play with everything given to you. Acceptance is a full acknowledgement of the reality that comes from deep-seated power.
First is accepting that which is beyond your control. We all have unconscious beliefs that we can control much more than we actually can.
This is what causes you to feel powerless — when you cannot control what you think you should be able to control.
"If they are killing themselves, it's your fault — you did not try hard enough or you fell short in some other way."
This is the belief underneath when you are not able to convince your loved one to give up their self-destructive habit. So you try harder. You insist. You put your time, effort, money into saving them. Except, they don't want to be saved. And you resent them for it.
Love turns to unconscious resentment. Not because of them.
Because you try to control something that is not actually in your power.
What is in your power?
Letting go the false belief that you can control the life of another person.
In accepting that you get to choose how you feel about all of it. Before we get to that...
There is another false idea underneath all this. That you know better than them.
This belief comes from cultural programming that gives you moral authority to tell others what is good and bad for them.
If everyone says smoking is bad, you get to take the high ground. You know better. You know they are doing something "wrong".
You believe your moral authority gives you control over them.
But, in reality, it doesn't give you control.
It just gives you a lot of suffering and disappointment.
Who are you, really, to judge their choices?
If they rather kill themselves doing what they love, who are you to say that is worse than living longer while missing out on their favorite activities?
Would you rather they suffer a miserable existence for longer or live doing what they enjoy, even if it kills them sooner?
Aren't you being selfish in wanting to control them and make them live longer?
Did you ask if living longer is what they want? Especially through giving up what you are asking them?
We think they are being selfish because they are not considering how it hurts you.
Often people attempting and committing suicide are called selfish. That is bizarre.
It's their life and their choice, they get to be selfish with it.
If someone's actions hurt you, your pain is your responsibility.
Stop blaming others for it.
That is what acceptance looks like. Ownership of what is in your control.
In resignation and denial we blame others for what we cannot control AND for what we can control that we don't.
Celebrate life with them. Support their decision to live as they choose, even if it is killing them.
Because, guess what? They are going to die anyway.
If you keep trying to change them, they will most likely end up doing what they want, but they will die resenting you for criticizing and controlling them.
If instead you support them, at least they will die feeling you are by their side at all times.
Coming back to acceptance now, when you learn to control what is in your control — your emotions and your beliefs — then you are in a place of power.
Eradicating those false beliefs is painful because they allow you to feel powerless. Which is easy. Because you get to blame the other person. Power is not for everyone. But if you rather not suffer, power is the only way.
Accept that others get to live and die as they please.
This gives you the power to choose not to feel hurt by their choices.
Accept that others will cause you pain.
This gives you the power to protect yourself and distance yourself when they are being hurtful.
Often we stick by people when they are being hurtful because of our own false beliefs. We tell ourselves we are being supportive and loving when we control them through judgment and criticism in the form of caution. All this while we are being hurt by them ignoring our "advice" and by them hurting themselves.
Know that it is ok to stay away from loved ones who are being hurtful.
Know that them ignoring your advice is not personal, it is not saying anything about you.
Know that it is ok to take care of yourself when someone else is hurting.
This is what acceptance means. What are you really accepting?
You are accepting your power. You are accepting what is in your power.
And yes, know that it is ok to feel powerful when others are feeling weak and miserable.
You can feel powerful even when others are dying.
You don't need to feel sad because someone decided to kill themselves — slowly or instantly.
Death is a constant. It doesn't really matter how long someone lives, that is just an idea in your mind. No one dies too young, nor too old. They just die. Everything else is just a story we tell.
It may look like they died by accident, they died naturally, or they killed themselves. That too is just a story. They just died.
Accept it. Celebrate their life. Celebrate the joy they experienced. And let them go.
You get to choose whether you mourn their death or celebrate their life.
You get to choose whether you lost someone or gained the opportunity to live with them as long as you did.
You get to choose whether regret kills you or you live joyfully no matter what.
I know of mothers who live joyfully even after losing a newborn — one of the most painful experiences you can go through. And I know of children who never move on from the death of parent — an experience nearly everyone goes through. What's the difference? Acceptance.
Resignation is a choice. Reject it.
Acceptance is your power. Use it.
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