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The Harsh Truths About Accepting the Unacceptable

The Harsh Truths About Accepting the Unacceptable

Why is it that people have significantly different outcomes with similar experiences? Have you noticed some people can experience trauma, yet thrive, while others spiral into darkness? I have personally lived through this darkness. As a young child in foster care, I felt trapped and alone.

Imagine you are trapped in a tank of deep water. You tread water for a long time. You start getting tired. You aren’t sure how much longer you’ll be able to keep your head above water. You try to stay afloat, try to conserve energy and pray someone will come along and help you. Time ticks on. You are so tired. You sink below the surface, hold your breath for as long as you can. Nobody is coming to save you because nobody notices you need help. Desperately, you pull to the surace, gasp for air, sink back down again. You aren’t going to make it. You have lost all hope.[1]

Even though I felt all hope was lost, somehow I made it. I did not hopelessly drown. My younger brother is a different story though. He seems to be hopelessly trapped. So, how did I make it while he did not?

Be brave through traumas.

What exactly do we go through after a traumatic experience? Let’s answer this question by diving into the 5-Stages of Acceptance (otherwise known as the 5-Stages of Grief). There are different types of “acceptance or grief” models; however, we will focus on one in particular, a model introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – the Kubler-Ross model. [2]

    Stage #1: Denial.

    The first stage is denial. People enter this first stage after shock from experiencing a traumatic event in their life. Events such as the death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, rape, being in a serious accident, or the traumatic exposure veterans experience during war.

    If you or a loved one have experienced a traumatic event, you are most likely in one of these five stages. In order to recover from your experience, it is important to be able to identify which stage you are in. Here are a few things to look for in this stage: [3]

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    • Clinging to a false sense of reality.
    • Your outlook on life becomes meaningless.
    • Your life makes no sense.

    Example

    I was placed into foster care as a young child. My younger brother and I were in a state of denial when we were placed into the foster care system. We believed our parents would change their behavior and become better parents for us.

    Why This Matters

    Denial helps us survive loss. It is a way for the universe, God, Buddha (whatever you believe) to tell us that we have reached our limits of what we can handle.

    Stage #2: Anger.

    The second stage is anger. Anger is where we possess the need to blame someone else for our problems. Here are a few characteristics of this stage: [4]

    • The need to blame someone else.
    • Your anger extends to everyone around you.
    • You feel abandoned.

    Example

    After being placed into foster care, I was extremely angry. I blamed everyone I could think of. I blamed my mother, my father, my social worker, my grandparents, and even God. What is funny (looking back now!), I remember cursing God one evening and woke up deathly sick the next morning… coincidence?

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    Why This Matters

    When we feel our anger, instead of suppressing it, we start to recover. Think of an open pit. You are stuck at the bottom of this pit with no way out. Once you feel your anger, it is as if a rope magically appears to pull you out of the pit.

    Stage #3: Bargaining.

    The third stage is bargaining. Bargaining is when you believe you can avoid the actual problem through negotiation. Let’s take a look at a few ways to identify this stage: [5]

    • You have self-doubt.
    • You are constantly using “what if” and “if only” statements.
    • You are stuck in the past.

    Example

    As a foster child, I remember telling my biological parents that I would do anything they wanted or be whoever they needed me to be if they would only stop their drinking and drug use.

    Why This Matters

    It is important to recognize when you reach this stage. In this stage, you are stuck in the past; however, it is fairly easy to recognize that you are in this stage simply by paying attention to your thoughts and words. You will find that you use quite a few… “what if” and “if only” type statements in this stage.

    Stage #4: Depression.

    The fourth stage is depression. Depression is a dark stage where you withdraw from everything. Depression is the most dangerous stage, so here are few things to look for:

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    • Withdraw from life.
    • An intense sadness.
    • Suicidal thoughts.

    Example

    I can vividly recall the sadness I experienced when I finally realized nothing could be done to save my parents. I had a horrible feeling that one day soon they would both die due to their lifestyle. Sadly, my father would commit suicide not too long after.

    Why This Matters

    This stage is important because grief enters your life at a deep level; a deeper level than anyone could ever imagine. It is important during this stage to understand that depression is an appropriate response to trauma. [6]

    Stage #5: Acceptance.

    The fifth and final stage is acceptance. Acceptance takes place when you accept the true reality as your permanent reality. You will know when you enter this final stage by the following characteristics:

    • You realize that you can’t remain stuck in the past.
    • You start to enjoy life again.
    • You make new connections.

    Example

    I finally hit this stage when I told myself that I could not change my family. I had to start preparing for a reality without the majority of my family in my life. I wasn’t happy about this, but I accepted it.

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    Why This Matters

    Accepting the true reality as your permanent reality is an important step in recovery. Typically, we don’t necessarily like it, but we accept it and learn to live with it. It is important to remember, we cannot start this stage until we have allowed an appropriate (determined by the individual) amount of time at each stage… essentially, we cannot rush into acceptance.

      You can’t control everything, but you’re always in control of something.

      Once we develop a growth mindset, we then find that we can become better. A growth mindset will put us on a path, not just to recovery, but a path allowing us to thrive. It will put us on a path to Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). Along the way, look for meaning or purpose in your life. When we discover meaning, we find that we have a greater purpose to live.

      Here are some ways you can develop a growth mindset:

      • Believe you can become better.
      • Attempt to learn as much as possible – knowing you can and will become smarter.
      • Read and listen to audiobooks.
      • Exercise and eat nutritional foods.
      • Embrace challenges – know that you can learn from them.
      • Embrace failure as opportunities to learn.
      • Embrace effort as a necessary step toward growth.
      • Eagerly learn from criticism.
      • View the success of others as an inspiration – learn from them.
      • Create synergy with others and stimulate growth in yourself and in others.
      • Additionally, really think about the following quote…

      “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Winston Churchill

      Remember, there is always the silver lining.

      When I personally developed a growth mindset, I soon discovered the meaning in my life. I didn’t have to look far to uncover it… in fact, it had been with me all along. My beautiful wife and my precious daughter are my purpose… they are the meaning in my life.

      You too can easily discover meaning in your life, accept the seemingly unacceptable realities of this world, and thrive. All you have to do is open your eyes!

      Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

      What Is the Point of Life: The Reason Why You Exist 5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices

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      Last Updated on June 2, 2020

      9 Ways to Reach Your Full Potential Every Day

      9 Ways to Reach Your Full Potential Every Day

      Why does it seem like time goes by so quickly? We start a week and before we know it, it’s already the weekend. How can you make the best out of each and every day?

      I want you to be able to reach your fullest potential every single day. Even during the days where you relax and recharge, I want you to enjoy every moment.

      When it comes to reaching your full potential every day, it’s all about planning. If you’re not a good planner, you’ll have to start learning! Those who are good with time management and are organized usually experience a more productive day.

      So, how to reach your full potential? Here’re 9 ways you can start trying.

      1.  Focus on the Big Picture

      “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

      We live in a society filled with so many distractions, so we can easily get caught up with the stress and frustrations of life. Focus on the big picture. With so many distractions, it’s so important for you to focus on what you want.

      What does the big picture look like to you? What are the goals that you want to accomplish? When it comes to reaching your potential every day, it’s important that you know what the big picture looks like.

      Why do you do what you do? What is the reason that you go to work or come home and provide dinner for your family? When you have purpose and reason in your life, you’re more able to live out each day to your fullest potential.

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      If you are able to see the big picture in your life, you don’t have to just live day-to-day. When you know your purpose, you will be motivated to live each day to your fullest potential: How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

      2. Plan!

      Planning how you want to spend each day is key to reaching your fullest potential each day. Without any planning, you will just get pushed around and have no direction in life. Reaching your potential every day is about planning your day in alignment with what matters to you.

      Focus on what is important in your life. Maybe it’s providing for your family or spending quality time with your spouse. When you are able to live in alignment with that matters to you, you will be able to reach your fullest potential every day.

      Plan your week every Sunday evening. That way, you’ll be able to see your week’s schedule before starting your week (6 steps to plan your week). Make sure to add when you plan to start working and end working into your schedule.

      It will be important for you to know when it’s time to turn off work-mode and start spending quality time with your family. It’s also important that when you plan your week, you are realistic with what you want to accomplish.

      Set yourself up for success, not for failure. Create a to-do list for each day of the week on Sunday evening. Have about 4-5 tasks that you want to accomplish each day. If you have a big project, you should only include 2-3 tasks for that day.

      An action that has helped me reach my potential each day is to check off each task once I complete it. It feels good knowing that at the end of the day, I was able to complete my To-do list. Remember, set yourself up for success! Make sure you reward yourself after a long day of being productive.

      3. Time Management

      Planning and having good time management is a combination that leads to reaching your fullest potential every day. When you’re able to plan out your day and how you want to spend your time, you not only get more done but you also have extra time to spend on what you enjoy.

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      Having good time management is important for you to learn because when you value yourself, you will value how you spend your time. Try these 7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity.

      4. Positive Attitude

      When it comes to reaching your fullest potential every day, it’s important to have a positive attitude. When you have a negative attitude, you start viewing yourself and your life as being negative. How can you possibly reach your fullest potential when you have a negative attitude about yourself?

      It’s all about your perspective and how you view yourself and your life. In order to have a productive day, you must have a positive attitude. With a positive attitude, you’ll be able to stay focused on what you want to accomplish every day.

      Here’re 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude.

      5. Stay Focused on the Task at Han

      Staying focused takes discipline and commitment. With so many distractions, it’s easy to get off track and not get anything done. That’s why staying focused on what you need to get done is key in reaching your fullest potential.

      If you get distracted by your phone, make sure you put it on silent when you’re trying to finish a task. Not only will you be more disciplined, but you’ll also get a lot more done! Anything that distracts you from completing a task needs to be put away.

      Learn How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide).

      6. Have Goals

      If you want to reach your fullest potential each and every day, you need to have short and long term goals.

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      Take a piece of paper and write down what you want to accomplish now and in the future. This goes back to planning. Have your goals and have deadlines.

      Then plan each and every day taking the necessary steps to accomplish your goals. It’s all about setting goals and then following through.

      Find out How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully.

      7. Embrace Simplicity

      When you want to reach your fullest potential, simplify what needs to get done before the day starts.

      One routine that has helped me save time is picking out my outfit the night before. This way, I don’t feel rushed in the morning.

      Simplify your morning routine. If you can find different ways to save time and make your life simpler, you’ll be able to focus on reaching your fullest potential every day. When you are constantly all over the place and your life is far from being simple, you’ll experience stress and frustration on a daily basis. Simplify your life!

      8. Recharge

      You can only reach your fullest potential if you take the time to recharge. When you are constantly working without any rest, you will eventually burn out.

      Taking the time to rest and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul will allow you to become re-energized for the next day. Use different strategies that help you relax. Try meditating or yoga.

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      It is not only important for you to recharge your mind– your body needs time to recharge too. Reaching your fullest potential every day can become stressful if you don’t manage your time well and take the time to recharge.

      Take a moment and think about what recharges you. Maybe it’s spending some quality time with your spouse or taking a nice walk in the park. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you enjoy the process. It’s easy for our minds to wonder, so when you’re recharging, focus on recharging!

      9. Enjoy Each Moment

      “To get all there is out of living, we must employ our time wisely, never being in too much of a hurry to stop and sip life, but never losing our sense of the enormous value of a minute.” –Robert Updefraff

      With so much going on, it’s easy to just go, go, go and not take the time to smell the flowers. Enjoy the moments that you experience throughout each day. This will help you feel grateful and appreciative with what you have in your life. Enjoy the simple things like having a roof over your head and being able to afford food for your family.

      Although being productive is important, taking the time to enjoy each moment is important too. This article can help you: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying

      Featured photo credit: Melody Jacob via unsplash.com

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