Recently, I had a moment. One of those warm, fuzzy, empowered, moments where you just know anything is possible.
This moment happened when I took my acceptance of my health issues to a completely new level.
I’ve never been in denial about my MS. I accepted it from day one with the understanding that it is what it is.
There were sticking points – there always are. I was afraid of it. Mad at it. At times I felt betrayed and victimized by it.
I spent more than a few years working through those issues.
Now I’m in a very different spot.
I’ve elevated my acceptance from simply accepting that ‘it is what it is’ to being the creator of my experience with MS.
There’s a big difference between acknowledging that you’re sitting on a bus and driving it.
A lot of us take that first step – be it willingly or kicking and screaming – to acknowledge that we’re on the bus. Whatever that bus may represent- health problems, relationship issues, money issues, or addiction issues. That bus looks different to all of us.
And sometimes just admitting that we’re on the bus is a huge step. We can see some of our fellow riders don’t even know they’re there. Or are pretending that they’re on a private jet instead.
So we accept where we are and make the moves to fix our situation as best we can. Lose weight, learn to budget, get help.
And that’s great.
But we don’t have to do the best we can from the back of the bus.
We can drive the bus ourselves.
We can decide how fast it will go.
We can decide what it looks like and what route we will take.
We can be in charge of the whole shebang.
Looking back over the years, I see the levels of acceptance that I went through.
I started with the clear it is what it is model. Not happy with it. A little bit devastated and mourning my previous life as a healthy person. But I did what I had to do. Found resources, got drugs, developed necessary relationships and stayed on top of things.
Then I started moving beyond that. I started to own MS as a part of me. No longer looking back to what I could have done differently. No longer mourning who I once was. Even realizing that my picture of who I was before wasn’t that real to begin with.
I even began to feel good with it. I spoke up about it. Talked to newly diagnosed patients about my story. I thought I was living as fully as I could with my MS.
But I wasn’t.
I was still letting someone else drive the bus.
Who was driving?
My MS and all the relapses.
The news stories that always wrap up by saying how I will likely end up ‘devastated’ by the disease.
My doctors and nurses that told me how I was doing and how I should be feeling. (One even looked me dead in the eyes and said, “You’re doing well, but you’ve got a looooong way to go”. Dang.)
All these things were still driving the bus. Every time something happened, it would push me off course. I can’t control my disease. I can’t control the court of public opinion on MS.
I thought that was just how it would be.
That’s where I was wrong.
And I’m so glad I was.
Nothing is 100% predictable.
Not my MS, not other people’s opinions, not anything in this world.
Sure, we have statistics. But nothing is certain. There are more variables at work than people know.
I can’t predict the course that my MS will take. I create as many wins possible by seeing doctors and taking care of myself.
But even if I do fall onto the ‘predicted path’ as foretold by the media and scientists that have never met me, I control how ‘looooong’ and ‘devastating’ that path is for me.
And I say that with 100% certainty because I’m the one driving this bus.
‘It is what it is’ is not the end of the acceptance journey. And I think that’s the best news.
My new mantra is “it is what I believe it is”.
We all stare acceptance in the face at some point.
And we can drive the bus for whatever we’re working on in life.
Life changes of any kind.
Don’t confuse this with a step back into denial. Because whatever ‘It’ is must be clearly known and accepted first and foremost.
This destination lies far beyond denial.
This is where you can feel the vulnerability and still know you control your outcome.
Where you can be surprised by the situation without getting blown off path.
Where you are the deciding factor in how you ultimately experience the situation.
This is when you choose how to act instead of simply reacting.
That is the ultimate power of acceptance.
Look at things in your life. Where are you not fully driving?
Maybe you’re accepting your weight and are losing it, but still afraid to step on the scale.
Maybe you’re starting to spend less, but still afraid to look at your debt.
Maybe there’s a sticking point in a relationship, but you’re letting it fly because it’s easier that way.
Zoom in and look at those sticking points.
Where are you shying away?
What do you still not want to talk about and why?
Where are your fears making you freeze?
Find these places and really look at them.
Know that their existence doesn’t control of how you feel.
Simply accepting something is not the end game.
You can accept something and still remain passive about it.
And you’re not driving when you’re on the path of least resistance.
You can go deeper.
You can fully connect with it.
You can allow it.
You can decide how it will make you feel and what outcome you want.
There is a moment when you reach that ultimate level.
In that moment you will know.
In that moment you are driving.