A popular old song back in the 70s offered a compelling idea within its lyrics: “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and never even know we have the key.”
Most of us would admit to feeling shackled at times, and in some instances, there is good reason to feel this way. But more often, the lack of freedom we experience on the emotional level is our own doing. We hold on tightly to beliefs that no longer serve us; resentment or anger toward those who have, from our point of view, wronged us; or to a learned helplessness that developed at an earlier time and taught us our efforts – at that time – are futile.
A sense of freedom results from accepting that the future we experience is, to some degree, our own to create. Regret, guilt and anger from the past hold us back; fear and uncertainty about the future prevent us from moving forwards. The chains in which we live are held in place by the thoughts we choose to harbor.
The key you hold to free yourself from these shackles is simple in concept, but takes practice to use. It’s called acceptance.
Acceptance is one of the basic tenets of mindfulness training, and it is the opposite of the denial, anger and guilt with which we often view past events. Accepting means acknowledging that an event has occurred, whether through our own doing, someone else’s, or randomly. It does not place blame, look for restitution, wish for a do-over, or waste any other emotion on what cannot be changed. Similarly, one must acknowledge that the future may unfold in any number of ways, and that our focused efforts will make more of an impact than fear and worry.
Acceptance means being present in the moment, appreciating the gifts within and around you right now, and focusing on the strengths and resources at your disposal to make your life more what you want it to be.
Acceptance is the key that frees you to move forward, frees you to enjoy the present moment, regardless of the past, no matter what the future may bring.
Emotional intelligence skills are essential in this process, especially if you’re feeling boxed in, held back, or limited in your ability to reach your goals. Watch for future articles on developing these skills, or use the Contact form above to request information on how Emotional Intelligence Coaching might support your growth.