Let’s talk about how to accept the things you cannot change. I’ve been thinking about this topic because of a comment a reader left on my article titled How To Change Your Whole Life When You’re Sick Of It. Here’s the comment:
“Unfortunately, what I want my life to be and what is reality is two different things. I loved being a wife and mom. It was my purpose in life. My kids are grown and my husband of 28 years left. When I was married I worked part time, which I loved cause I could contribute to the finances and still take care of my home. Now I have to work full time and come home to an empty house. My life could be worse. I do like my job and I have friends and family to spend time with at times, but just not what I wanted my life to be. Sometimes you can’t change things because of what life gives you. It’s not the life I wanted. Just trying to make the best of it.”
Now, I only have this one paragraph, so I can’t know for sure, but I suspect that this reader might be a little stuck. She might be stuck in the past and in the “what could have been”.
And I can’t really judge her for it. Although I haven’t been in the exact same situation myself, I have most certainly felt similarly stuck.
Many of us get stuck like this for the simple reason that we don’t know how to move on.
So in this article, I’m going to share with you how I have learned to maximize life satisfaction even when there are some things I can’t change.
How To Accept The Things You Cannot Change
1. Recognize What Cannot Be Changed
Sometimes people get stuck waiting and wishing for things that they have no control over. There are three things that fall in this category:
- The past – You can’t change it. Period.
- Other people – Yes, you can try to influence other people, but ultimately you can’t control them. You can’t change who they are or what they feel.
- Laws of nature – You know, things like earthquakes or the fact that we all eventually die, etc.
It doesn’t matter how many times you say “if only”, these three things are not under your control.
And yes, it sucks!
But I don’t want you to get stuck in the suck.
The way to not get stuck is by ACCEPTING that you are never going to change 1) the past, 2) other people, or 3) laws of nature and by following the rest of the steps in this article.
2. Grieve What Cannot Be Changed
Although I want you to accept the things you cannot change, it’s not good to accept them too fast. Because if you just accept and try to “think positive” without fully acknowledging and processing the suckiness of the situation, the suckiness will get stuffed inside you and hound you.
In order to get rid of the suckiness, you have to feel it, process it, and let it out. You have to let yourself grieve.
This can take some time. And it may not be a once’n done process. Your grief may come and go.
And that’s okay.
3. Take Full Advantage Of The Things You CAN Change
The biggest reason the dear reader I quoted earlier is stuck is that her mind is so clouded by the “what could have been” that she is not taking full advantage of all the things she CAN change. It’s like she’s accepting too much. She’s accepting things she doesn’t need to accept. She’s accepting things she COULD change if she decided to.
- If her previous life purpose is gone, she can find a new purpose.
- If her house feels empty, she can refill it.
- If she wants to only work part-time, she can make that a goal.
I know, I know… Easy for me to say, right? This is definitely another potential stuck point. You can’t change things if you don’t know how.
So how exactly do you change the things you CAN change?
Well, if you don’t know the answer to that question, your next task is to investigate.
- How do other people find their purpose in life?
- How do other people fill their empty houses when their spouse and kids are gone?
- How do other people manage to work part-time?
And now, dear reader, we get to where the suckiness has great potential to turn into excitement. There are only three things you can’t change, but an infinite number of things you CAN change!
You have full control over your decisions and actions from this second onward.
What do you want more of in your life? How do you want to feel?
And how can you get those things?
Whatever you want in life, someone else has already achieved.
Which means that you can learn from them and YOU can achieve the same thing!
Once you get on this road, you will be way too busy being happy to remember all the things that you could not change.