When whatever you do, life just isn’t working the way you want

“I let it go. It’s like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home.” ― Joanne Harris

I was catching up with a friend the other day (as you do), and they were telling me in absolute frustration about a situation of theirs that just wouldn’t change, despite their best efforts. They’d tried every which way of going about it, and yet they kept coming up against obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. It all sounded very familiar… I’d been there before… a number of times…and for an extended period.

A few years ago, my circumstances were completely turned on their head. It had in fact been a long time coming, but I’d managed to navigate around all the warning signs until one winter overseas when it hit me that I literally had no more options left bar one. So I took my only remaining path and moved back to my childhood home in the country, back in with my parents. But I also decided it was only temporary – this intense fatigue and moving home thing was just a little blip. I’d give myself a one-year sabbatical, and then I’d continue on with my life as planned – travel, professional writing, romance, money, energy and choice. The thing is, life had other ideas.

It seemed that after that year everything I tried to recapture of my old life was doomed. The more I tried to get away from where I was, the worse it all became. I was stuck and incredibly angry and frustrated.
Finally, when I realised that once again that I really didn’t have any other options left, I accepted my situation. I accepted that this was obviously where I was meant to be – whether I liked it or not. I decided to stop fighting life, as maybe there was something I had to learn –perhaps patience and acceptance? Perhaps even to trust that there was order, meaning and purpose to my life, even though I couldn’t see it right now.

And just like that, life began to flow again. When I stopped fighting life, it stopped fighting me.

But, my friend asked, isn’t this giving up? Where would anyone get in life if they didn’t use a bit of will-power to push past those boundaries and/or obstacles?

I had to admit that I’d asked the very same questions, and I hadn’t quite come up with all the answers. Determination, will-power and persistence had stood me in good stead a number of times before, so how did I know when it was time to let go? What is the difference between acceptance and quitting?

At the moment, I know it’s time for acceptance when a situation is consistently draining and overwhelming, rather than an energising challenge. I know that if things just aren’t working, whatever I do – it’s time to let go of that particular dream or goal…for now. I need to accept that it isn’t right for right now.

And maybe, just maybe, we need to have a little more faith in God, the processes of the Universe or even in simply in ourselves to “roll with the punches”?

I’m still working on these questions, but what about you, what do you think?

Do you fight life or go with the flow?
How do you define acceptance?

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8 thoughts on “When whatever you do, life just isn’t working the way you want

  1. Simone, I admire your honestly.
    It’s that old adage of ‘Lord grant me the ability to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference’! Maybe to this, I would add something about being granted time enough to learn this wisdom!!
    But it does come!
    Essie xx

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    • Thanks Essie, I’m glad to hear that the “wisdom to know the difference” does come – hopefully it will get to me eventually! 😉 As another friend and I discussed last night on facebook – the accept or fight “answer” seems to be a constantly moving dynamic – and that’s where the difficulty lies. Actually, I think I’ll post our short conversation here, as it really does relate closely to what you’ve said.

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  2. Sarah said, “There’s not an easy answer is there? Though I think it comes down to recognising what you can and can’t control in life. When we take action, or make a decision, I think there’s an advantage in then standing back and seeing how we, and the world around us has responded. Then with this knowledge and awareness, we can adjust our next action or decision accordingly. That way we don’t keep banging our head against the wall. Sometimes our frustration arises when we think we know how things ‘should’ be rather than being in touch with how they actually are.”

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  3. And I said, “You’re so right, the accept or fight “answer” seems to be a constantly moving dynamic – and that’s where the difficulty lies. It IS important to first recognise what you can and can’t control within the situation. Then, like you say, I guess it’s a matter of taking the parts that you can control, along with the information (knowledge and awareness) that you have, and making the best decisions/choices you can – situation by situation, and sometimes even moment by moment. And my “shoulds” definitely have a lot to do with my frustrations, and the banging of my head! Very well put – thanks!

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  4. I think I’m really lucky, because it’s a rare thing for me to have adversity thrown at me. Usually I choose it, aware of the inevitable struggle that will follow and deciding that it’s worth it, for whatever reason.

    I recently did some learning about acceptance during a trip to Asia. It was the monks at a meditation retreat that really helped me articulate the importance of acceptance in my situation. And in hindsight I’ve been able to understand that until I accepted the reality of the situation, I couldn’t really change it.

    So, long story short, I think acceptance is at risk of being giving up if we overlook the true reality and think our distorted perceptions are the reality. Some people are really good at self sabotage. In my experience, however, I think this all comes to a head when the follow quote comes into play:

    “And the day came when the risk to remain tight inside the bud became more painful than risk it took to blossom” Anais Nin

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    • Well hello there Gypsy Adventurer, fancy meeting you here! 🙂

      But true, it is when we don’t perceive a situation as it really is that we may see acceptance as giving up. Or giving up may also be seen as as acceptance when we are actually trying to avoid something. The challenge is to see and face true reality.

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  5. Your comments ring very true SImone, and your situation is one that I find myself in right now! It takes a great deal of courage to go against what feels familiar or comfortable (even if unhealthy!) and it’s even harder when the situation that presents itself has not been your choice.
    When reflecting on tough moments in life, although very hard mentally and sometimes physically, I have always been able to find positives within the negative, (in time!), and learn from the experience. Otherwise what’s it all for?!
    I’ve never been one to throw in the towel, but many a moment arises where I have thought “what the hell am I doing this for?!” It’s not giving up, it’s recognising and accepting that a situation is just not right in the here and now. I made a decision a long time ago not to be a marter. It turns you into a miserable, negative person. It is destructive to put yourself through intense periods of uncertainty and anxiety just because you are concerned about what family, friends, colleagues may think? Confidence will always win and respect will be earned in making that tough choice. I understand that sometimes it can take time to reach a decision, you can’t always drop the hot potato immediately, but small steps in a right direction to better future is what everyone deserves in this one and only life we have.
    Congratulations on this amazing achievement! Happy blogging xox

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