the hump of acceptance

Posted: January 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

I was working at City Hall and we had new software.  Trainers had come in to show us how to use it and had even customized elements of it to meet our needs after studying our processes.  It was a wonderful change from the antiquated system with which we’d been limping by; I’m very tech-friendly, so I never mind the temporary pain of learning a new system.  The more we worked with it, the more excited I got about its possibilities.

Then a coworker came to teach me a new process that I’d need to follow to make her part of what we did work better.  It didn’t make sense to me.  It felt like duplication of effort.  Instead of pressing in to learn why it was necessary, I stiffened into resistance.  I didn’t REFUSE – I complied.  But every time I did it, I was filled with resentments and inner objections.  I chased the thoughts around in my head about why it was dumb to do this thing.  It was hard to teach myself to even remember to do it.  It was hard to get myself used to the process.  Basically, I was certain it was LESS efficient instead of more so, and I’m all about efficiencies in my office.  I’m generally not mouthy in the workplace, but I muttered objections to my coworker many times on this point.

Months later, we’d finally compiled enough data from that process to make it useful.  Then I started to see what the point of collecting it had been – the process made sense to me.  Finally, I let go of my objections and resentments.  I even apologized to my coworker about how many times I’d resisted aloud on this point.

That was when I realized:  the reason I’ve had such trouble learning this was my attitude.

It was the first time I’d been so clear about the effect of my attitude on my ability to learn.  I’d always been a good student in school, willing to do the work, quick to learn, excited to be challenged (I was the student who got excited when August rolled around and it was almost time to be done with summer vacation).  I had even known to show up and try with my best attitude when it was a subject I didn’t enjoy.  So I hadn’t learned about what bad attitude does to my “learning muscles” before that.

With the bad attitude cleared away, I was easily able to remember to do that process every time, and it wasn’t difficult at all to learn the steps of it.

I’ve repeated this little lesson to myself since then too many times to count, which just goes to show I’m not as quick a learner as I believe myself to be – I can count 3 times I’ve played it out in just this past week alone.  My struggle as we crossed the threshold of the new year with adjusting to G’s work schedule and the need it created for us to make dramatic changes in our sleep schedule was a major one of these points – it was almost impossibly hard, right up to the point where I replaced my bad attitude with acceptance and good decisions related to that.  Then it became easy and actually helpful and good.

It’s a perverse little thing in me that holds on to the idea that “this won’t work,” whatever *this* is.  I’ve noticed it in navigating relationships.  It has become apparent in exercise challenges.  It’s a thing a huge percentage of us do when talking about our physical shortcomings, challenges or illnesses – we talk long about how hard and bad it is, but quickly become prickly when someone with good intentions and experience asks us whether we’ve tried “x” solution.  We hold on to the brokenness of the thing and get surly with those trying to help us out.  We embrace the absence of solutions or freedom or healing, clinging tight to the notion that it just can’t be fixed, irritable at any suggestion made to the contrary.  Why wouldn’t we want it to be fixable?!

Every time I reach that moment of stepping across the threshold from resistance into acceptance, I’m surprised again at how long it has taken me to get there.  And at how good it feels to arrive.  And at the genuine goodness and joy on the other side of the hump.

And that I’ve needed to learn it again for the eleventy-seventh time.

Dealing with *what is* will always be a more peaceful and free thing than trying to insist it be otherwise, at least when it comes to things we are powerless to change.  And I suppose that’s the sticking point for us – we don’t like to face powerlessness.  We like to be captains of our own destinies, but in the end really the only thing we can change is our own attitudes, behaviors and decisions.

That’s a really GOOD truth.  Too bad we’d rather fight it than celebrate it, so much of the time.

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