What if Social Distancing is a Challenge in Acceptance?

With every day comes more stressful news updates. These are anxious times, with any number of reasons to be and stay fearful.

17 Days ago, I was afraid. Fearful, as it turns out, is my default setting. Now that I’m starting to ease into what is becoming the new normal for the foreseeable future, I’ve been pondering a lot about acceptance.

Before having to stay home, I was struggling a lot with my too-busy lifestyle. I had a lot of trouble accepting things happening in my life and felt like I needed to fix them. When I don’t accept something, I take it upon myself to CONTROL it–which invariably makes the situation worse. Control is my response to fear. Control, rather than faith.

Radical Acceptance

Recently, I started reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Brach writes about how the principles of “Radical Acceptance” are twofold: First, you must acknowledge the situation as it is. Second, you must welcome the situation with an open heart.

Acknowledging the Situation

I’ve heard the concept of acceptance thrown around in most of the circles I frequent. Yet, I’ve never heard it explained like this. You see, as she explains, you can’t have Radical Acceptance with only one of those tenets. Simply acknowledging the situation can arise feelings of frustration or anger-turned-inward.

For me, control is a byproduct of that anger-turned-inward. My therapist calls it “whipping myself into shape” when I don’t meet my own expectations of managing a situation.

Welcoming with an Open Heart

Instead of whipping things into shape or fixing things that appear to be broken, Brach suggests welcoming the situation with an open heart. With love, compassion, and empathy. Self-acceptance and openness to the situation. She argues that only until you can lovingly welcome the situation, can you begin to change it in an effective, productive way.

Otherwise, you’re just distracting yourself.

Moving Forward with Acceptance

There’s so much we can’t control here. I’m not too good at taking my advice, but, these days, I am better at seeing when my God wants me to just quiet down, be grateful for what I have, and accept–with an open heart–my current situation. Being forced into this stay-at-home experience has made it so much easier to let go of those things that I can’t control so I can focus on what I can.

Since I turned the corner with my anxiety and my acceptance, I’ve found this experience to be so much more enjoyable than I’d originally thought. I’m actually, dare I say, loving it. I’ll probably cherish these few weeks as one the best, freest experiences of my life.

Tell me: what are you trying to fix that isn’t broken right now? What can you just accept today?

 

Just Because I Quit Things Doesn’t Make Me A Quitter.

Even if that’s all I’ve done until now.

Each time I create some piece of art for the internet, whether it be a written piece, a social media post, or a page on my website, I always get the same sick feeling before I hit publish.

Putting myself out there is hard for me, mainly because every time I hit publish, I feel like I am saying to the world, “I’m here again! See! I did it!”

That feeling is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I look at that feeling and say, “look at me, reclaiming my time and space in the world.” On the other, the more practical side of me, is saying “what if this is the last one I do?” or worse, “what if they all think I’m not going to keep this up?”

“What if they think I’m a quitter?”

My Finish Rate Appears Poor

Before I started my brand new blog, I became hyper-aware of this feeling. Suggestions on the internet say that if you’re going to write an article or launch a website, you should tell your friends. Use your network, etc.

“But, what if I’ve already used my network?” I thought. I’ve had a lot of failed ventures, all that started with the same enthusiasm and doe-eyed dreams. Over the last few years, I have started (and not, ultimately, continued) a beaded jewelry Etsy shop, a crocheted hat Etsy shop, and a paper-flower Etsy shop. There were other projects, too — jobs, relationships, commitments — but for some reason, the Etsy shops are the most visceral because those are the ones I launched to my friends, got their support, and didn’t continue.

Each time, I’ve “used my network,” they’ve kindly supported me, and I’ve just given up on the project. It either takes up too much of my time, or I’m not passionate about it, and I move on to something new.

So, naturally, when I started writing and launched my blog, I thought, “surely, this is the same. I quit those things, and I’ll quit this too.”

I Follow Through with The Things That Matter

This process has allowed me to get some perspective. When I’ve tried, in the past, to investigate what did and did not work, I’ve shied away.

For example, one thing I noticed (writing this article) was that these “failed projects” I’ve been carrying as a burdens all had something in common: they were all Etsy shops. They all required heavy labor for a small price and a unique audience seeking my wares.

When I look at the things I haven’t quit, the things I’ve continued today, I’m surprised by how much those projects matter more. I’ve stayed clean and sober for six years. I’ve been a Cycling Instructor for just shy of a year. I’ve been writing every other day for two weeks (not long but still pretty good). I’ve been in a committed relationship for five years. I’ve adopted two dogs and kept them alive by feeding them, loving them, and taking them to the vet when necessary for five years.

The life I’m surrounded by is full of things that I have loved and nurtured — things that I’ve chosen to cultivate.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Quitting Isn’t The Same As Pausing or Walking Away

This reflective process has taught me that the parts of my life I haven’t carried on into this new season of my life were set down for a reason.

As mentioned earlier, they took too much time. In other cases, they were too stressful to continue. The return wasn’t worth the investment of time, money, fear, or pain.

Every Experience Teaches You Something

I’ve started to notice that my criteria for starting new projects and investing time in new commitments has also become more strict. I can look at a high-labor project and say, “yeah, that’s not for me.” I can consider taking on a new group fitness commitment and think, “maybe the one I have is sufficient.”

That perspective has come from repeated failure and quitting. I only think those things today because I’ve hardened towards what matters in my life.

Further, it’s not like those projects didn’t teach me something. Each time I launched a new Etsy shop and its related social media and digital marketing accouterments, I learned something new. The first project taught me how to start an Etsy shop. The second taught me how to use MailChimp. The third taught me where to find my audiences and how to help something gain traction organically.

My skills have all layered on top of one another to make me who I am today. That same kind of tenacity I had with each of those times didn’t go away; I just channeled it differently when I started writing. I funneled that energy into something productive, instead of a low-return project.

“An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he’s in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots.”

— Charles F. Kettering

My failures are making me better at not failing. My failures are making me bulletproof.

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

Quitting Could Be The Strongest Thing You Do

I used to think the fear of being called a “Quitter” kept me from starting new things.

While I’m glad for the things I learned during those experiences, I’ve sharpened my senses to know when I should tolerate something for the long-haul and when I should put it down.

Fear of quitting didn’t stop me from starting things — it stopped me from starting things that don’t matter.

Now I can look at the things I’ve quit with a sense of pride and gratitude. I’m not a quitter; I’m a starter.

Most people don’t start anything.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Quitting a Project


Life is too short to hold on to things that don’t serve you.

Between all the projects I’ve started, stopped, and resumed, I’ve identified some specific questions I ask myself when I am not sure whether or not to continue spending time on a project.

Sometimes, the project becomes too time-consuming; other times, I lose the fire that was once inside me to pursue it. No matter where you are when you start getting “The Quits,” I suggest taking a hard look at your time spent on your project through five lenses.

5 Questions For Could-Be Quitters

  1. Does spending time on this project serve my long-term goals?
  2. Am I passionate about spending time on this project?
  3. Is spending time on this project productively impacting my life?
  4. Is spending time on this project taking time away from other priorities?
  5. Is this project something I can resume at a later date?
Photo by Berny Steiner on Unsplash

Let’s unpack these questions

Does spending time on this project serve my long-term goals?

If you haven’t done any long-term goal planning, this is an excellent place to start. Author Laura Vanderkam suggests writing out a List of 100 Dreams to begin considering where your time should be going (and if you’re spending it in the right places). If you don’t want to spend the time writing out 100 Dreams (my first time trying it I couldn’t get past about 20), you could try jotting down the five most important things you want to achieve.

Consider where you want to be in five or ten years before turning back to your project. Does it fit? If it doesn’t, will you be okay with knowing you chose to spend precious time working towards this project instead of your goal?

Am I passionate about spending time on this project?

I have a pesky habit of thinking I’m passionate about something when, in reality, I’m just doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve tried any number of get-rich-quick schemes that don’t, ultimately, strike any passion within me.

Take a good look at your project. Are you passionate about it? Are you finding yourself inspired by it during the day? Are you excited to share news about it with your friends?

If you’re finding yourself avoiding this project or making excuses not to complete it — it might make you happier to walk away.

Is spending time on this project productively impacting my life?

Sometimes our time spent is constructive, and other times, our time spent is wasteful or destructive.

Ask yourself what you are building with the time you’re spending on this project.

If you’re not making yourself or the space around you better — maybe it’s time to put this project down.

Is spending time on this project taking time away from other priorities?

It should come as no surprise that when you choose to spend your time in one area of your life, you’re doing that at the expense of something else. And that might be perfectly fine, depending on what that is. You may choose to start a new painting class that happens at the same time as your indoor cycling class, knowing you’re sidelining the bike to pick up a paintbrush.

On the other hand, there are projects that take time away from our well-being and relationships. In my own experience, I tend to go down the rabbit hole on my online projects and suddenly forget my husband, home, and dogs exist. When my projects begin to take time away from the areas of my life I cherish most, I have enough red flags to start slowing down or hit the pause button.

Is this project something I can resume at a later date?

You don’t have to do it all right now.

While we shouldn’t waste our lives, the time we spend on this earth can be (if you’re lucky) long and fruitful. Most of us aren’t psychics. We can’t say for sure if stopping something now closes the door on it forever.

Choosing to stop something today does not mean you can’t pick it back up in a week, month, or year (or ever, if that suits you). Sometimes your project isn’t best for your current season of life. Setting something down with acceptance (rather than guilt) allows you to come back later with a fresh, wiser perspective — or grace for choosing to stop something that doesn’t serve you.

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Quitters Get a Bad Wrap

Fortunately, spending time on any commitment teaches you skills that you can apply to future jobs or projects. The work you’ve done so far wasn’t a waste in the grand scheme of things. There comes a time, however, when that learning stops and you’re just spinning your wheels.

Quitting has a bad connotation, but it doesn’t have to. Sometimes, stopping means you chose, instead, to start something better for you. Only you can decide whether or not something is serving you — and if you could be spending that time more productively.