In Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, high school freshman Charlie is agonized because a girl he cares for is dating a boy who hits her. He confides this in his English teacher who responds with a quote I consider the backbone of the novel:
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
Accepting is tricky business. We've all heard the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
But I think we can too quickly put things in the former category. We accept too soon. We say with resignation, "It is what it is," about an entirely changeable situation. (Maybe not easily changeable, but still entirely changeable.)
Sure, there are some definitively unchangeable things worth accepting. Example: I am six feet, two inches tall. For large swaths of my adolescence, I viewed my height as a struggle. Essentially, I rejected it.
[Aside: I believe I rejected it because society so clearly did. It wasn't particularly helpful that, starting in Kindergarten, adults constantly said to me: "Don't worry, the boys will catch up."
It strikes me now that in this oft-repeated comment my height was not only being interpreted as an inherent problem (I don't think I would've worried about it had I not been informed, so insistently, to not worry about it) but also, this "problem" was immediately related to males. The "problem" wasn't how tall I was; it was how tall the boys weren't. From literally age five, my physicality wasn't about me; it was about males who were my age. (I could go very Simone de Beauvoir here and write a subject/object elaboration but will save that for another day. :)]
Accepting my height and not resisting it was an important, peaceful step for me. (I don't merely "accept" it now. At around 19, I started loving being tall and never looked back.)
I believe a certain level of self-acceptance is empowering; however, we often accept things into our lives that do not serve us. And accepting things here and there even though they don't feel right can be insidious. Suddenly, you look around and hate everything about your job. Or your relationship. Or your life.
And it hurts because you likely know, at some level, you chose it, or, at least you accepted it. It's an incredibly painful realization: that the moth-eaten holes within yourself are not entirely from external sources. That there are holes that cannot be blamed on bad parents or bad partners or bad circumstances. There are holes eaten from moths that you accepted into your life.
This is the worst, but it's also the best. :) Because on the other side of this realization is freedom. You do not have to continue accepting things into your life that do not serve you.
Brian Andreas sums it up well in this "life secret" in his lovely book Something Like Magic:
"Secret #7: You don't have to put up with anything. You can do something different."
To return to Chbosky, the question is less about what we accept and more about what we think we deserve. I'd even rewrite his quote as:
"We accept the life we think we deserve."
So: What do we think we deserve? What do we truly deserve? Is there a gap?
Often, there is a gap stemming from beliefs formed early in life. Rather than delve into limiting beliefs today, I decided to cut to the chase for you. (:
Things you deserve:
You deserve to be seen.
You deserve to be heard.
You deserve to be loved.
You deserve to be connected to your power.
As Rumi says:
"You were born with wings.
You were not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings.
Learn to use them, and fly."
You do not deserve a life of crawling, so no need to accept one.
with Love and with Light,
p.s. I recommend Perks. The teacher lends books to Charlie, most of which I've read and loved. Also, "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac has a moment as does "Something" by the Beatles, two of my favorite songs. (Basically: I can't tell if this is an amazing book or just happens to be set in my hometown (Pittsburgh) featuring books and songs I love, but I almost never re-read books and I just re-read this one and still love it.)
p.p.s. Brian Andreas is awesome on Instagram.
p.p.p.s. In my second letter I spoke of the importance of finding joy, peace, love, and fulfillment in the present. I still believe this. Here's the thing: you never accept things in the past or future; you only accept in the present. So I'm advocating for present-tense changes in this (and every) letter.