Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The true measure of a man’s strength is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
Dr. King has been a hero of mine for as long as I’ve had memory, and I have tried to follow his example to the best of my ability. Have I always succeeded? Not even close. But, I am doing my best.
Life happens to us whether we like it or not. We are naive, foolish, arrogant or a combination of all three to believe any differently. Given that I am presently in a struggle to avoid homelessness, now is the time for me to help others. Perhaps the most effective way I can do that is to talk about some of the (forgive the overused word) strategies I use.
I believe we have a relationship with everything in life. Therefore, like a relationship between two people, these relationships can be healthy or unhealthy. Remember too that healthy does not mean free of pain, fear or anxiety. It means, I believe, that honesty in our hearts must be present.
In order for that kind of honesty to be front and center, we must begin by what I believe is the most important step of all. Acceptance. We must accept the reality we are in, the challenge we face. We must accept our experience of the reality in which we find ourselves. However, acceptance does not mean we are giving in. Let me repeat; acceptance does not mean giving in.
The acceptance equation goes like this; you have to accept it in order to manage it and you have to manage it in order to be free of it, in order to develop a healthy relationship with whatever the challenge or problem might be.
If you don’t practice the art of acceptance and avoid it, whatever is getting in your way of your right to be who you are safely in the world around you is likely to control you and, in Shakespearean parlance, Kick your ass for the rest of your life.
Acceptance takes courage, strength. Not the Hollywood definition of strength, or the bullshit strength myths believed by many in my country and I suspect other countries too. Myths like strength means don’t cry; strength means don’t admit you’re afraid; strength means don’t ask for help; strength means don’t admit you can’t do something by yourself. All not true. After all, if it is act of weakness for you to cry, then why is it so hard to do? If it is an act of weakness to admit you’re afraid, then why is it so hard to do?
More often than not, real strength is not a pleasant experience. But the results of giving yourself permission to believe and discover the wealth of real strength within you will bring remarkable and wonderful change and growth to your life. If you allow yourself to use your real strength to enact the art of acceptance you will get to be you in life, and that is a glorious thing. You deserve the experience. We all do.
The strength needed to practice the art of acceptance means allowing yourself to go through the emotional experience. Go ahead and feel the fear, the sadness, the confusion, the anxiety…like most things in life they run their course. And once they have and you come out the other side you realize that you did it, you made it. You are, in a very real way, free. Free to be who you are.
It doesn’t get much better than that.