21 Quotes about Acceptance #tinyhearts

 

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             Acceptance is the only way out of hell.

– Marsha Linehan

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Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. – William James

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Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices. – Paul Tournier

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Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu

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My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. – Michael J. Fox

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For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.  –Alan Watts

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Of course there is not formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. –Arthur Rubinstein

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Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. –Eckhart Tolle

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The acceptance of certain realities doesn’t preclude idealism. It can lead to certain breakthroughs. –Rem Koolhaas

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Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.  ― Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart: A Novel

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To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.  ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me. ― Bob Dylan

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We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

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To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them. ― Albert Einstein

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You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give. ― Eleanor Roosevelt

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And I think that you do not understand that sometimes the only choice is between acceptance and madness.” ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

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The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom. ― Tara Brach

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God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ― Reinhold Niebuhr

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To see the beginning of this series, read about Hearthstones.

 

 

Hearthstones

I love my little clay hearts that you see on this blog and sometimes on my Facebook page header. My sister-in-law gave them to me a long time ago; she is a School Sisters of Notre Dame nun and she got them while on a retreat. They come in a purple, velvet bag and are called Hearthstones.

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The heart-shaped clay tiles are called hearthstones because when the words heart and earth merge the word becomes hearth, a place to experience safety, warmth, intimacy, story telling, and healing. Hearthstones invite us to reconnect with what has heart and meaning in our lives and to rekindle spiritual values vital to sustaining life on planet earth.

They are described as tools of spiritual healing that invite personal, communal and planetary transformation by returning us to the center of wisdom and spiritual energy – the heart.

My sister-in-law selects one each day and carries it in her pocket and uses it during her devotional time. I’ve used mine in a lot of different ways, but my favorite thing to do has been to give them away to people. Since I can’t physically give them away to you, I decided I’d post a picture of a different heart each day in February. Some days I’ll include a quote or two or three…other days maybe a brief meditation of sorts. You are a very warm and supportive group. I so appreciate you, and hope to give a little something back in this way.
 
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Birthdays: A reminder of the awesomeness of being alive.

Tomorrow is my 52nd Birthday! I’m reposting what I wrote two years ago, because I still really like what I wrote :)

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Dad and me in Norfolk, VA

Dad and me in Norfolk, VA

         There’s Something about a Baby

It was January 1, 1962, my mother’s due date.  Relatives had trekked from Tennessee and Alabama to Norfolk, Virginia to be with my parents for my birth. Most were going to stay for a short visit, but my grandmother was going to stay with my mom for several weeks to help out. Leave it to me to be an introvert before I was even born. No way was I going to make my entrance into the world with all those people around. Everyone eventually left. Luckily, my father who was in the Navy, didn’t have to go back to sea quite yet, and on February 1, I made my arrival.

I’ve never given much thought to birthdays before, but turning 50 has thrown me. One minute I feel like celebrating; the next minute I want to pretend it’s not happening and I think I’ll just stay 49, thank you very much.

I casually mentioned my upcoming 50th birthday in my previous post, and I received a thoughtful comment from a fellow blogger (thank you, Doug!). He wrote: “If you were given the opportunity to honor a dear dear friend of yours who was let’s say, turning 40 this year, what are some of the things you might do to honor them? Take your time with that question….and after you’ve given it some thought….I’d like you to apply the same amount of creative energy and passion for yourself…no self-effacing allowed….”

I have taken his words to heart. One thing I’ve done in the past for people is make them a scrapbook. For example, on my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, I wrote to all of their friends (they have many!) and had them write a note and send a picture, which I compiled into a tribute album. Years ago I made myself a scrapbook that I call my “celebration album.” It has meaningful letters and cards that people have sent me over the years; quotes I like; and pictures of people I love. I haven’t kept it up-to-date, but it’s on my to-do list for the year. I took several hours today to look at it in depth, read each letter, and really let the words and images sink in.

On the subject of celebrating, here’s an excerpt from a letter from my uncle and Godfather, Sam Gerth (one who made the trek to Virginia 50 years ago), on the occasion of my confirmation:

Life is not all fun and games. There are many doubts and hurts and pitfalls. And the risks may seem frightening. But we never learn our limits of creative power unless we press on, for if we press on we know how to celebrate and what we are celebrating and why.

This afternoon, I tried to let myself celebrate me–not just what I’ve accomplished, but who I am as a person. I tried to not be self-effacing, as Doug noted that I tend to be. I read cards and letters from previous clients. One card had the inscription, “There are moments when one person make a special difference that no one else can make.” Although I’ve had extensive education and great training as a therapist, I think people not only liked me, but also made sometimes profound changes in their lives, because they rightly sensed I truly cared. I let myself feel deeply blessed to have had these experiences.

Tonight Greg and I went to my parents’ house and they told stories about me when I was a baby and we looked at old photo albums. You could see their faces light up as if it were just yesterday. They talked about what an exciting and special time it was. There’s something about a baby!

When I worked at a hospital, every time a baby was born, a lullaby would play over the loudspeaker. In my current office building, it’s pretty much a given that when someone is on maternity leave, the mom will bring in the baby at some point. Everyone runs out of their offices to see it, hold it, and hear the stories.

All of this pondering about birthdays and babies, led me right back to the topic of this blog: self-compassion.

What if we could nurture ourselves as we would a newborn baby? What might that feel like? What might that look like? How might our lives be different? What if we allowed ourselves to be excited about life, not just when it is new, but also when it is seasoned.

I remember when my own son was born–the powerful and intense feelings of love and attachment. Tonight, I looked at a photograph of myself looking into his eyes when he was only a few days old. I was so young, and so enthralled with the perfection of this little guy. Tonight, I saw that same look on my parents’ faces as they recalled my birth. There’s something about a baby!

Barbara Quick, an author and editor of my first book, once sent me one of her poems. I don’t remember in what context she sent it to me, but I loved this line and have it written in my celebration album, along with pictures of my son as a baby.

I never understood before how an infant is the natural symbol of redemption: everything sundered is made whole again, every mistake forgiven.

Once again, there’s something about a baby!

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Me with my baby…
22 years ago.

A Tidbit of Truth from Around Here Lately

I don’t buy that we should face our fears just for the heck of it. People are always posting quotes on Facebook about overcoming fear and how you should never let fear hold you back. Sometimes I get sick of those quotes (even though I have posted some of them myself).

What is true for me is that I will do things that scare me if it’s for a reason I believe in, or for someone I love. To paraphrase Victor Frankl:

Those who have a WHY can bear almost any HOW.

Yesterday I drove to St. Louis to be at an important doctor’s appointment with a loved one. I used to live and drive in St. Louis every day, but since we’ve lived in Jefferson City for 15+ years, I rarely drive more images-8than a five miles at a time and never in heavy traffic. Unfortunately, I’ve let myself develop quite the phobia of driving over bridges, getting sandwiched between big trucks, driving next to a median, passing other cars, etc. It wasn’t easy–there was snow earlier in the day and the schools had even been closed. The road conditions were okay, but what freaked me out was that the snow had blown on all the highway signs, and I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to find my exits. I was very tense, but I made it. It was worth the stress–not because of some abstract reason of facing my fear, but because I did something important for someone I love. And by the way, the doctor’s appointment went well.

What’s Your Self-Care Style?

Do you put others needs ahead of your own? Do you feel guilty if you take time out for yourself? Do you think you don’t deserve self-care?

mindful_selfcompassion_bookChristopher Germer, Ph.D., author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion and a leading researcher in the field, describes 12 personality styles that impact how we take care of ourselves. Most people will recognize themselves in more than one of these styles, and the styles themselves overlap some. Knowing more about yourself will help you become more skilled at giving yourself exactly what you truly need, at exactly the right time.

Below, answer the questions under each style. The more questions you relate to and are saying “Yes, that’s me!”, the more likely that style fits you.

Try to approach this with curiosity (not self-judgment). Germer writes:

Our personalities are built primarily around the need to survive rather than to be happy, so rest assured that some aspects of your personality will run counter to emotional well-being and the practice of self-kindness.

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Caregiver

Do you minimize your struggles, thinking other people have it much worse than you do?

Do you worry a lot about your loved ones? (If I worry enough, he or she will be safe.)

Do you offer a lot of support to others, but perhaps get attached to a specific outcome?

Do you feel selfish for taking care of your own needs?

Self-Care Tips for the Caregiver: 

  • Remember, you have to put your oxygen mask on first, before you can help anyone else.
  • Taking care of yourself will put you in a better position to take care of others effectively.
  • Realize you may not know the best outcome; it’s tough, but letting go of control is often what’s needed. 

Intellectual

Do you get stuck in your head? 

Do you obsess a lot?

Do you try to solve problems using rational thought?

Self-Care Tips for the Intellectual: 

  • Realize that not everything can be solved; some things just are.
  • Emotions can be difficult and messy, but they can be great sources of information and a pathway to healing.

Perfectionist

Do you feel like you’re never good enough?

Do you feel inadequate?

Do you tend to criticize yourself?

Self-Care Tips for the Perfectionist: 

  • To be human is to be imperfect; we are all in the same boat.
  • Forgive yourself for any mistakes you’ve made (or think you’ve made). 
  • There’s no perfect way to do self-care!

Individualist

Do you have trouble sharing your feelings?

Do you value being strong and in control?

Do you pride yourself on being self-reliant?

Self-Care Tips for the Individualist:

  • Consider how good you feel when you help others; give this same opportunity to others and reach out for help.
  • Know that it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for support. It’s often a sign of strength.

Survivor

Do you feel you don’t deserve love and attention?

Do you feel badly about yourself, therefore you think you are bad?

When you start to be kind to yourself, do you experience intense and unpredictable feelings?

Do you tend to shut down emotionally, even when feeling good?

Self-Care Tips for the Survivor:

  • Give yourself permission to practice self-care and self-compassion in small doses at first.
  • “Shutting down” can be a survival method you’ve learned; reassure yourself that you’re safe now.
  • Self-criticism is common if you’ve heard negative messages repeatedly as a child. Realize that these “voices” are from long ago.

Workhorse

Do you have trouble slowing down?

Are you constantly working?

Are you frequently in the “doing” mode versus the “being” mode?

Self-Care Tips for the Workhorse:

  • There will never be the perfect time to take care of yourself. Something will always get in the way if you let it.
  • Watch out for turning your self-care practice into just another thing to check off your to-do list.

Butterfly

Do you easily grow tired of things?

Do you have difficulty following through with projects?

Do you tend to jump from one thing to another?

Do you have trouble with consistency?

Self-Care Tips for the Butterfly:

  • Consider the true cost of jumping from one activity to another (you never get the full benefit of one particular practice).
  • Utilize the support of others to help you stick to one thing (for example, meeting a friend for a yoga class).
Outsider

Do you feel like you don’t fit in?

Do you feel invisible?

Do you feel disconnected, not whole?

Self-Care Tips for the Outsider:

  • Notice the circumstances when you most feel you don’t fit in.
  • Allow yourself to experience your feelings with as much tenderness as possible.
  • Remember that it’s okay to be different. Many of our great works of art and music, for example, were created by unique souls who may not have fit into conventional society.
  • In other words, it’s okay to be weird!

Floater

Do you live in the moment?

Do you have trouble committing yourself to one thing?

Do others describe you as easy-going, even detached?

Do you have trouble making decisions?

Self-Care Tips for the Floater:

  • Watch out for “easy-going-ness” turning into passivity or avoidance.
  • Ask yourself, “What matters most?” to help guide you in your self-care and compassion practice.

Moralist

Do you become easily indignant with people when they behave badly?

Do you have a strict sense of right and wrong?

Do you feel surprised when people don’t behave as you think they should?

Do you feel disillusioned by others?

Do you avoid taking care of yourself because it feels self-indulgent?

Self-Care Tips for the Moralist:

  • Ask yourself whether your preoccupation with other’s behavior leads to suffering for yourself?
  • All of us have the seeds of bad behavior within us; if we acknowledge this fact, we’re more likely to be compassionate to ourselves when we make mistakes.

Introvert and Extravert

Are you energized by your inner life? Are you energized by time alone? If so, you’re likely an introvert.

Are you energized by being around other people? If so, you’re likely an extravert.

Self-care tips for the Introvert and Extravert:

  • Find a healthy balance between solitude and time with others.
  • No two people will have the exact same ratio of alone time to people time, and that’s okay.
  • You may need different things (alone time/time with others) depending on the day and the circumstance.

Which of these personality styles predominate in your own life? 

How have your predominant styles helped with taking care of your self?

How have your predominant styles hindered your taking care of yourself?

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Photo via flickr.

 

Stories and Compassion

“Everything is held together with stories.

That is all that is holding us together,

stories and compassion.” 

― Barry Lopez

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I told you my stories, and you reached out with compassion. It helped. It continues to help. Thank you.

I have had a good few days, and I know it’s because of you. This is no small thing–being there for each other. Yet we underestimate its importance.

At first glance, there seems to be nothing new about valuing compassion. It’s an idea that has been around for thousands of years in both the religious and secular worlds. But perhaps it is the universality of compassion that has lulled us into underestimating its importance.

Compassion is a treasure hidden in plain sight,

which we often don’t notice. -Larry Dorsey, M.D.

A big trend in psychotherapy is  “evidenced based treatment protocols.” Even as a write that, it sounds so cold. Of course, there are techniques and methods that are effective for a wide variety of problems.

But research over a long period of time continues to find that the core ingredient of someone’s progress in therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the client. It’s what humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers called “unconditional positive regard.” Psychologist David Myers writes:

Unconditional positive regard is an attitude of grace,

an attitude that values us even knowing our failings.

noname-30Writing on a blog is not the same as psychotherapy, but similar healing happens. You tell your stories. You find others have similar stories. You learn you’re not alone. You are seen.

You find out people accept you even if

you’re a bit tattered around the edges.

Again, this is no small thing.

Again, thank you, friends.

Beginning Again with Self-Compassion: Part One

Dear Blogging Friends,

After my last post admitting the fact that I have no clue what I’m doing with my various blogs and social media pages, my faithful reader, Doug, said he voted for having this be more of a personal blog. Although appealing, it scares me for several reasons. One, I’ve been raised to be very private. (Why not just write in a  journal?)  In addition, some of the things I want to write about involve other people, who don’t want their stories told. I respect that. And then there’s this: a personal blog is, well, personal. Do I really want the world to know how messed up I am? I told my husband a few weeks ago, “I thought I’d be more together by age 52.” He so sweetly and earnestly said, “Being together is over-rated.”

You have been taught that there is something wrong with you and that you are imperfect, and there isn’t and you’re not.

-Cheri Huber

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But, at least for today, I’m going to go for it, and tell you what’s really going on with me.

My self-compassion practice has been a joke. My husband told me the other day that he thinks I’m still way too hard on myself.  I said incredulously, “Really?” I hadn’t even noticed. So I retook the self-compassion test on Kristin Neff’s website and I scored horribly–probably lower than I did when I first started this blog. Oh my gosh. I felt badly because I was feeling so badly about myself! Of course, I started to cry.

My first year of blogging went really well. I was learning to be kinder and more gentle with myself; I felt more peaceful. So what happened? I’m not sure, but here are a few theories (maybe not in order of importance–I’m figuring this out as I go):

1. Chronic pain has worn me down.

  • I’ve felt overwhelmed dealing with doctors and new medicine trials. I’ve had hopes dashed when a medicine gave me so many side effects I stopped taking it, and then read in my records I was labeled “noncompliant.”
  • I don’t have doctors I trust. I feel like I’m flip-flopping around too much, but I can’t find anyone I click with.
  • It’s frustrating having to weigh every decision based on whether I think I’ll be able to manage the pain, and how long I’ll take to recover.
  • The things I like to do the most are the things that exacerbate my pain.

One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.

-Michael J. Fox

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2. Dealing with depression on top of chronic pain really sucks.

  • I’ve had a long, long history of depression, and I’ve come to realize that I have what’s called “treatment-resistant” depression. Despite lots of psychotherapy and lots of different medications, I have a very difficult time maintaining a stable mood. (And going through menopause definitely made me worse!) I’m not Bipolar with highs and lows–I just have varying degrees of lows, with just enough good days sprinkled in to let me know what I’m missing. My last psychiatrist retired, so I’m starting with a new one. Of course, she thinks the previous doc had me on all the wrong things, so I’m trying some new things, which is EXTREMELY scary for me. I am trying really, really hard. I didn’t read any of the information on side effects and am giving this a chance. It’s been two weeks and I’m afraid to be hopeful, but maybe I am, just a little bit.

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

-Mark Twain

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3. I have an over-active reptilian brain.

The reptilian brain is the part of the brain that deals with threats. From an evolutionary perspective, this part of the brain kept us safe from lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). When confronted with perceived danger, adrenaline kicks in and we swiftly move into survival mode. Our nervous system goes on overdrive and we can do amazing things–run quickly, fight off an enemy, or freeze until our enemy thinks we’re dead and leaves us alone. I would have been great in prehistoric times. But now? My brain is constantly scanning for things to go wrong, leaving me in worry-mode much of the time.

Also, as Kristin Neff pointed out: “…when the threat is to our self-concept, self-criticism does not work well. When you view yourself as the problem (I can’t believe I gained those 5 pounds back, I should’ve gotten an A on that test) the reptilian brain kicks in and attacks yourself, thus the self-critical self-talk.”

To top it off, as neuroscientist Rick Hanson describes it, my brain is like teflon for remembering positive events and velcro for remembering negative events. In actuality, the ratio of positive to negative events in my life is in my favor, but it often doesn’t feel this way. I forget the good.

What does this have to do with my self-compassion practice going awry? I think because these grooves are so deeply cut into my brain that I have to be very intentional to move out of this way of being. And I haven’t been very intentional (partly due to #1 and #2)

We have to have compassion for the self critic. Self-criticism comes from a desire to keep ourselves safe.

-Kristin Neff

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This is getting kind of long, but I’m not finished yet! I’ll continue in Part Two, hopefully in a few days. I want you to know how much I appreciate you reading this and all your support. I am going to begin again with self-compassion, this very moment, and know that it is okay. I’m okay, you’re okay, and everything is already alright.

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you’re beautiful.

-Amy Bloom

Photos by Greg Markway, taken over the past few weeks.