This post is one in a series, so please check out the earlier ones to catch up!
I wanted to talk more about the book Unstuck by James S. Gordon. There are many profound ideas in here, statements that make one think. And I hope that these posts have been helping you to explore how you think and feel–and helping you to get happier!
Gordon writes, “The journey through and beyond depression requires a balance of action and acceptance. Sometimes, the emphasis has to be on action that moves you forward…Other times, action precedes relaxation and acceptance.” Think about these statements. What does this mean to you?
When I initially read and pondered it, it made me think back to the early days of my relationship with my husband. Often we go into relationships with high standards or ideals, and become disappointed, frustrated or upset when the person doesn’t measure up (in our eyes) to those ideals. Sometimes, that proves too much for a person to accept and the relationship crumbles, only for a person to move on to another relationship where–guess what? the same thing happens. We have to learn to love someone for who they are, not what we want them to be. So it is with our lives. The series of actions and choices that we’ve made in our pasts have led us up to this very moment. We can live in regret, being mired down in the past. This will always interfere with and weigh down our present, and discolor our view of the future. We shouldn’t waste the time that we do have obsessing over different choices we should or could have made. Because our pasts have given us wisdom.
So when I read these lines by Gordon, I think that what he’s suggesting is that we need to embrace acceptance in order to move from a state of unhappiness into a happier place. We need to accept that we may have made some bad choices, that we may not have achieved all of our personal goals, that we may not be exactly where we want to be in our lives at this moment. But then, subsequently, Gordon talks about action. Instead of being stuck at this place where you are in mourning, once you begin to accept, you can start to move on. You can begin to take action. Or, even if you don’t take any specific actions, you are already taking action by just embracing the concept of change.
For me personally, I think it has helped me to think in terms of a “revision of goals.” I considered some of the big regrets that I’ve held on to, and some of my major life goals that I was feeling I’d never accomplish. I have been spending too much time ruminating about my failures, losses and having an irrational focus on “but there isn’t enough time left in my life!” So instead I’ve been trying to re-work my list, or “update” it. Let me share with you an example. Since I was a teenager, I had this plan that I wanted to hit all the hot spots in Europe (paticularly London and Paris) before I turned 30. But that never happened. It makes me sad and at the same time antsy because I keep thinking “I have to get there soon!” It didn’t help that many of the women I met in college had already done these things, and seemed to have led a much more glamorous life than I. And of course I occasionally meet these single, child-less people who are flitting off to some exotic location or another. I’ve found myself saying on a number of occasions, “Well, I had to let that dream go–because I chose to have children instead.” I know, that sounds horrible (I don’t regret having chidlren!)!! But part of my point here is exactly in that statement. My choices. This is what I’ve chosen, this is what I’ve done with my life, and I have to accept that. Anyway, my daughter has developed a love of all things Paris. I’m excited that she’s just as excited about me as seeing Paris. So I decided that when she turns 16 (as sort of a 16th birthday gift) we should go to Europe together. She’ll be old enough to enjoy and appreciate it, I’ll finally get to go, and it will also solve my dilemma of who to go with, since my husband is more of a tropical lay-around-and-relax sort of traveler. And, in doing all this, it has also helped me to be so much more ‘in the moment.’ Before, I might avoid looking at pictures of Paris, or try not to think about it because it was just a reminder to me that I’d never gotten to go. But now, I’ve been starting to vicariously share my daughter’s joy. She wants to buy and collect anything that has to do with the Eiffel Tower, Paris, poodles (she associates them with France), etc. And I’ve been helping her to do this. We’re even planning on re-modeling her room in a Paris theme.
Gordon tells readers that they need to “relax into the experience, to accept the guidance that comes.” He also talks about how we need to surrender, to let go of control so that we can move ahead on our journeys. I love how he clarifies between submission versus surrender. He states, “Submission means giving up, resgining yourself to the limitations that are holding you back or keeping you down. In surrendering, you’re opening yourself up to the current of your life, which is always moving, always changing. And you’re inviting and embracing the deep changes that are starting to work inside of you.” I want you all to think about this–really think about it. Think about what this means to you. It’s an excellent journaling prompt.
More to come soon–so check back!!