I confess! Sometimes, I get blue - melancholy, down, discouraged. Maybe, it’s due to lack of sunlight, new body aches, missing Dan, no big plans, discord in the country and the world or maybe a combination of them.
Experts say that “feeling blue means to experience emotions of sadness or gloominess” and that “the human emotional system is a messaging system.”
They also say the basic message of sadness is that something like a vision, dream, expectation, person, situation, or job needs to be released. When I think about it, many of my blue feelings connect to losses. Losses caused by normal aging, Dan’s death, dreams that won’t come true, and the times in which we live.
I want circumstances to be different, but that won’t happen. The body ages, a loved one’s death causes ripples of change, all hopes and dreams don’t come true, and long-time values are in question. Am I not releasing losses?
Then, does the need to release conversely mean to accept? Denise Fournier, therapist and professor, says, “failing to accept reality creates suffering where there is already pain.”
To acknowledge means to accept or admit the existence or truth of something. I recognize those circumstances - see them as they are, whether I like them or not, and confirm they are true. Yes, my body is aging. Yes, he is not physically here, and my life is different. Yes, all my hopes and dreams won’t come true, and people have different values than I do.
But accepting those facts - seeing them as OK or being at peace with them is another story. I’ve talked about my struggle with accepting in other articles. It remains a challenge.
However, The Harvard Review article Ten Reasons People Resist Change suggested a different angle.
Unfortunately, too many of us believe that “change is temporary.” When you see something as temporary, you tend to cope with it instead of accepting it. If you don’t learn how to accept, embrace, and work through your discomfort in unfamiliar situations, you will inevitably find it difficult to progress.
What if it isn’t about accepting specific circumstances but about change in general? After reading the article, I realized that issues like loss of control, uncertainty about living on my own, and concerns about my competence might contribute to an unwillingness to accept life changes.
My favorite way to solve problems is to consult Ms. Google. Many websites offer advice. The motivational speaker Jack Canfield has this to say.
I borrowed ideas from the Healthline website. The first - practice mindfulness.
When we start practicing being present, our hurts have less control over us, and we have more freedom to choose how we want to respond to our lives.
The second - be gentle with me.
If your first response to being unable to let go of a painful situation is to criticize yourself, it’s time to show yourself some kindness and compassion.
And the article, How to Accept Things As They Are suggested,
Notice when I try to change or deny unchangeable things. My warning signs include anger, self-criticism, and sadness.
Remind myself, “it is what it is,” and there is nothing I can do to change it.
Engage in activities that help me cope with my feelings and improve my mood.
A powerful reminder was that accepting things as they are doesn’t mean enjoying them or giving up. It does mean changing my focus - from what I wish were true to what I can do with what is true now.
I can be sad and still enjoy life - those two emotions co-exist. Indeed, I have little control over many situations and can’t change many circumstances. At the same time, life is good. That may be where my acceptance starts.
It’s a work in progress and a necessary part of aging well.
An article I wanted to share with you is Your Thoughts and You. The author says.
Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln
Here are a couple of examples about how our inner stories affect our minds which in turn affect us.
It is a perfect introduction to next week’s article. Stay tuned.
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“Failing to accept reality creates suffering where there is already pain.” This is something that bears more thinking about. It had never occurred to me before. Thank you, Janice.
Interesting. I am watching my husband who is older than me coming to terms with the slightly reduced capability of an extremely capable person. However, we have decided to focus on what we can do and there is plenty. He is up a ladder trimming the hedges as we speak!! We are making the most of the days we can do things we want to do and enjoying downtime in between. I have watched my 90 year old Dad with a very fragile back play golf twice weekly until recently. He still goes around on his golf cart with his playing mates for the social aspect. He and my 'active' husband are my inspirations.