Changes You Refuse To Accept

Changes You Refuse To Accept

Twice in my life I’ve had unwanted, seismic change forced on me.

The first was when I had a breakdown aged 30; a breakdown that left me without a clue who I was or where I was, and that unravelled my patterns of thought so fundamentally that I was unable to understand the simplest conversations.

The second was when I was diagnosed with M.E./CFS in 2008, a chronic, incurable illness that’s with me right now.

They were changes of the worst kind; unwanted, unwelcome and, at first glance, unacceptable.

You will have had your own crises, times when life dumped you in sh*t creek and burned all the paddles. Those moments that threaten everything you’ve got and all you’ve worked for. Of course, life wouldn’t be life without springing these things on you from time to time. No way around it I’m afraid.

So what do you do when life sends an unwelcome, disruptive visitor your way? If you’re anything like me, your first instinct will be to close the door, heave the fridge in front of it, turn out the lights, go hide under the bed, close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and hum to yourself.

You do what you can to push away the unwanted change so things can stay the same.

When my breakdown happened, I dealt with it dutifully and pieced myself back together over a period of 18 months. Then I started looking for jobs back in the same industry I’d been made redundant from so I could get my life and lifestyle back.

When I was diagnosed with M.E. my first thoughts were about beating it and getting rid of it altogether, carrying on as normal so that I could get my life and lifestyle back.

Each of these events forced me to dig deeper than I’d ever had to before. You know what I’m talking about here, when your foundations are rocked, you’re scared down to your bones and having thoughts like “Seriously, just how strong does life need me to be?”

Being strong is a good, appropriate and sometimes essential thing to be. Personal strength helps you forge a path through the hard times, and it helps you stay anchored to what matters.

But, there are also times when that same strength can be used as a resistance mechanism, a way for you to stand up to change, show it who’s boss and fight to keep what you may already have lost.

Sometimes, your strength is the one thing that’s standing in your way.

Coming out of my breakdown, I knew full well that it was the fact that I was busying myself building a lifestyle that meant nothing to me that was the root cause, but I hid from it for the longest time and pushed up against that door with all my strength to keep it shut.

In starting to battle with an incurable illness, I knew full well that it might be with me for years, decades or the rest of my life, but my strength and bluster kept me focused on beating it once and for and all.

I didn’t want to “give in” to change that felt like loss.

But then I kept digging.

Deeper than I had at any time before.

I dug down past strength and found something surprising.

Peace.

When you’re in the midst of the storm it’s hard to see what the hell’s going on; sometimes all you know for sure is that it’s loud, chaotic, painful and sometimes tortuous. All you know how to do is to brace yourself and hold on long enough for it to pass.

But when you sit inside the storm it’s possible to find the calm centre of it. And it’s there that you get to relax and breathe.

My breakdown started me on the road of coaching and writing, things that make me feel like I’m home.

My illness has made me confront how I’m being of service to people as well as long-standing issues around feeling undeserving of love.

The changes I refused to accept were the ones that I needed the most.

I’m immensely grateful for each of these events, and with regard to my illness I know that it’s only just started teaching me about life.

So over to you.

Are you more focused on “being strong” in the face of change than finding peace within it? What might happen if you stopped fighting and started accepting?

Photo by Graeme Law

Steve Errey

Steve is a confidence coach who helps you find your natural confidence so that you can put your dent in the universe – which basically means doing what matters to you in ways that work for you. Go grab The Code and get more of him on Twitter.

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24 Comments

  1. Hi Steve thanks for sharing your journey. You have had several big challenges. There is certainly a learning for us all in accepting and finding peace in every situation. In my experience attachment to situations or people is working out of lack and fear. When we are in our own power and confidence we can embrace situations more openly.

    Reply
    • I think we all have big challenges don’t we Karen? And I think you’re right about attachment, it is often driven by the fear of letting go.

      Reply
  2. HI,
    Im going through a very similar situation in my life..
    I have been thouroughly miserable for years, lost sight of who i was, and hated everything and everyone including myself.
    I have been battling fatigue since i was 12, and always thought that i was tired because i was miserable or because of allergies. Blood tests showed nothing, so i believed it was all in my mind.
    My fatigue was getting worse and worse, and i was really starting to worry.
    I finally decided to go to a different country to study, and to get away from all my misery, thinking that the change of scenery and satisfaction in my life would heal me.
    When i arrived there, i started getting more and more ill, until i reached a stage where i was allergic to everything, was having shaking fits and could barely move.
    My Mum had to fly in to bring me home.
    I never got to start my course, and every day was a challenge for me. Just being, was torture. I couldnt sleep, eat, talk to ppl, because i felt so ill. I honestly thought i was going to die.
    Then i was diagnosed with CFS. My whole world stopped. Everything in my life was terrible.
    I panicked at first, but since then it has just been a long road uphill!
    After years of running from who i was and my problems, i have finally stopped, and am learning to face my past, my fears, my blocks, my anger, and am finally free. It is sort of like the quiet in the midst of a storm. Physically, I am in the worst shape i have been in for years, but this experience has saved me, and i would never swap what has happened for the world. This is truly the happiest time in my life, and thank G-d i am almost recovered!
    I have found myself again, and am ready to start living again, but as a happy, positive, self loving person, without all my old habbits and fears!
    This situation was truly a gift, and it was only by seeing it that way that i have gained more than i ever thought possible. I have changed so much over the last year, that i am unrecogniseable emotionally!
    There have been countless times where ive just broken down, because the work i have to do to get better physically and emotionally is just so hard, but ive always got up and tried again.
    I now welcome change like a friend, and realise that anything worth having in life is worth fighting for!
    If anyone wants information about the things that have helped me to heal, please contact me on this page and id be happy to share what ive tried and learnt.
    I beg anyone who has CFS, not to think of themselves as part of a statistic, where only a small percentage of ppl recover, but as an individual, with 100% chance of recovery. If you think of yourself as part of the crowd, you may decide that its more likely that youll be part of the statistic that doesnt deserve to recover, or doesnt have the ability, and that is just a way of being complacent to stay ill.
    Please believe that you have every chance of recovery and that you deserve to get there!
    Blessings for your journey x

    Reply
    • You’ve been through the wringer Kiara, and I know how tough this illness can be.

      Which makes where you’ve come to all the more amazing. It’s funny isn’t it, that this “horrible” illness might just be the thing you need to be happy.

      And I wholeheartedly agree with you if other folks with CFS are reading. Believe it or not, this illness can be a gift. Check out what I did recently over at http://www.runfor.me if you don’t believe me :)

      All the best to you Kiara.

      Reply
    • Kiara, thanks for posting your journey so far. I’d love to hear about the things that have helped you. Perhaps I might be able to offer you something about what has helped me, too. You can email me here: mark at alivebyforty.com

      Reply
  3. I like this post of yours. Finding peace in the middle of such big disasters in our lives is the biggest learning…

    Reply
  4. Steve,

    Thanks for being a kindred spirit.

    Reply
    • Thanks Tim, glad you connected with this.

      Reply
    • That was a surprise to me to be honest. I always saw strength as the thing that can push you through. Peace, I think, is altogether more powerful.

      Reply
  5. Thank you for your article!
    I am going through the exact same thing. I have CFS, and my life before this, was a miserable hell. I had totally lost sight of who i was, and hated everyone and everything.
    I was at a stage where i thought it was normal to be miserable, and couldnt imagine living in a different way.
    I had been battling fatigue for many years, and then, just as i was about to achieve my life dream, CFS hit hard, and took that chance of happiness away too.
    I was shattered, but through a series of events, i decided that i would see the good in the situation, and would live for the journey, not the end. I decided to live in the now, and find happiness as i am, instead of struggling and cursing my illness.
    It has been a long year, and i have had countless “Bad” things happening to me, but through this patience and love of where i am now, everything bad has become good, and i am now happier than i remember being for years. This illness saved my life, but only because i was willing to work hard, and change my expectations and thoughts.
    It has been a hard battle, but one worth fighting for!
    I am now on the verge of recovery, and have 100x more now than i had before this ordeal!

    Reply
    • I like the quote marks around “Bad”. Things are only bad if we think they are, and sometimes what might be tempting to think of as “bad” can be exactly what you need.

      Thanks.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for sharing Steve. It ‘s a hard lesson to learn but often our “strength” is just another way to cling to an old identity… it takes a lot of presence to be okay with whatever it is happening and paradoxically, that’s what leads to the greatest strength of all; the “peace that passeth all understanding”. God bless.

    Reply
    • Exactly right Lorna. I never saw that strength could play that role and I’m incredibly grateful that I have!

      Thanks so much :)

      Reply
  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Steve.

    I think that being ill was what forced me to change. I know I would have continued on if it hadn’t been for the fact that I had to leave my position in public education because I was having so much pain. What happened was that I changed my thinking, actions, and daily activities. I realized that with a lot of simplifying and just as much prioritizing, I could regain my health. I know this is not true for some illnesses, but I am so glad you are out there telling people that it is possible to make peace with seemingly horrible situations.

    Reply
    • Sounds like you’ve learned a heap too Tammy. I wonder where we’d both be if it wasn’t for our illnesses?

      Reply
  8. Glad I ran across this post. My body and my emotions have a way of getting my attention when I’m not listening, or don’t want to. I’m 36 years old, two years ago…I started having severe lower back pain. I found out that I had a ruptured disc and degenerative arthritis. Frankly, I think these physical ailments are directly related to stuffing my emotions for years. I’m just now coming to a point of really embracing my healing and even knowing what changes that I need and would like to embrace in my life. Thanks for your post!

    Reply
    • I think there’s a lot to be said about the thought that the body is a mirror for the mind. Sometimes, I guess we need to be brought to our knees physically in order to see what we’re resisting or refusing to accept elsewhere.

      Reply
  9. Hi Steve,

    I’m saving this for sure:

    “When you’re in the midst of the storm it’s hard to see what the hell’s going on; sometimes all you know for sure is that it’s loud, chaotic, painful and sometimes tortuous. All you know how to do is to brace yourself and hold on long enough for it to pass.

    But when you sit inside the storm it’s possible to find the calm centre of it. And it’s there that you get to relax and breathe.”

    Such an awesome quote!

    Thanks,
    Kyle

    Reply
    • Bookmark away Kyle! Hope the post serves you well, and thanks for the kind words.

      Reply
  10. Steve, thanks for your article! All the best with your health.

    By the way, I particularly enjoyed your “anti-hustle” rant on your site.

    Reply
  11. Thanks for sharing.
    And dont forget that sometimes our major fear of one of our qualities are our major strength.

    Reply
  12. Some changes are truly unacceptable, for example, relocating to an unfamiliar place for a job or a chronic illness and many! I was upset from one such change that is unavoidable, and that is, getting older. What i did not like was the signs of aging like, wrinkles, fine lines, grey hair, pigmentation and the list is endless. But eventually, we have to accept the “unwanted” change, as we don’t have any other choice. So accept it happily and positively! 100daychallenge.org will help you get through this and make you realize that some changes are most needed!

    Reply

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