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How Learning to Accept “What Is” Can Help Your Mental Health


Some days, I wish I hadn’t startedJen Pot

Some days, I wish I’d left the lid on

Some days, I wish it was easier

Some days, I wish the box was smaller

Some days, I wish I was someone else

And some days, I’m so amazingly grateful to have blown the lid on Pandora’s Box that I could high-five the world.

There’s no getting around it; exploring your soul can be a tough journey. Holding up the mirror to your life, your challenges, your choices, your identity, your relationships, can feel exposing and vulnerable. Being willing to ask yourself what you “really” think and feel, and to speak from your heart with total honesty about what “is” can be daunting for the bravest of souls.

It requires accepting the possibility that we may be wrong, that we may not have done our best, that our reality may be less than what or how we’d like it to be, and to stare head-on into the feelings we’ve been avoiding feeling – the ones that really hurt.

Life would most definitely be easier, less painful, if we chose to avoid this route – to keep the lid on Pandora’s Box, stay in denial, keep telling yourself the same stories you’ve made up about your reality because it’s easier that way.

I kept the lid down on my Pandora’s Box for many years (except for the odd sneaky peek and a bit of maintenance here and there). I slapped a fake smile across my face and got on with it.

Life was pleasant enough most of the time; I carried on about my business pretending to be normal and ignoring all the signs that it wasn’t (like the weird illnesses, the boiling rage that bubbled under the surface, the inner loneliness) and it was …. OK.

Then the time came when I realised I didn’t want life to be just “OK”.

One of the most amazing gifts therapy has given me is the ability to see myself and my experiences in life for what they are – no smoke and mirrors, just real, naked experiences. In a recent session with my therapist, I observed how much of a battle I sometimes I feel like I’m facing in life – the broken car I can’t get the garage to fix, or the fact that I’m single, for example. But mainly, the fact that all I want to do is have a rest but feel like I can’t.

I’ve been trying for months now to focus on the concept of Being. It sounds easy right? Just Be! Feet up and Be. Well, I find it frickin’ hard! I’m rubbish at it, and resist it wherever I can.

But then something magical happened. With nothing interesting on TV one night, I took myself and my restless pants to bed early. As I sat on the bed contemplating the reality of my early Saturday night, the word ‘acceptance’ kept popping into my head.

The the penny dropped.

‘Being’ wasn’t the right word for me.

It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I kept resisting the idea of doing nothing, and therefore stayed in battle mode. I needed first to accept. To truly accept things for what they were, whether I liked it or not, I also needed to accept the deeper, uglier parts of my life that I wanted to keep the lid on.

To accept that I am someone who has been raped.

To stop fighting that part of my identity that doesn’t want to believe it, the part of my being that wants it to be different, to change it.

As I focused on the different things about myself and my life that I needed to accept, I noticed my imaginary body armour softening: the tension easing in my chest, my shoulders lowering, a softness to my face.

In accepting the reality of “what is”, we can let go and stop battling what isn’t. The really beautiful thing is that we don’t have to like it either. We can say. ‘I accept this situation, although I don’t like it’. And from this place we can make choices. We always have choices.

Getting to grips with these realisations can be tough, but it far outweighs the reality of a world in denial. I’d rather try and make the most of this life with love and support rather than stress and hurt feelings!

What about you? x

-Jennifer Potter.


Stronger-braver-website-thumbnailWant to read more from Jennifer? Her book, Stronger. Braver. Wiser., is out now – here’s what to expect …

What is it like to face your abuser twenty years after the attack?

Jennifer Potter shares her journey from keeping a shameful secret to finding the courage to speak her truth. Now, she is passionate about finding a way to be authentically you, speaking your truth and living courageously and applies this philosophy to all of her life. Stronger. Braver. Wiser is fundamentally a story of triumph, filled with support for those that share the wounds of rape and sexual violence.





Want to see more blogs from Jennifer? Click here.

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