How Do You Do What You Don’t Want To Do?

"Acceptance is not fatalistic passivity where we believe that we just have to endure. Acceptance is to acknowledge a situation for what it is and to calm down inside of it. If we then find we can bring about change, very good! If not, then we must acknowledge and accept that. In both cases, a clear and open heart and mind are useful."

Svein Myreng

Many times in life we must do things we don’t want to do. It might be getting out of bed in the morning to go to school or work. It might be homework or housework, or some unpleasant chore. It might be going to war or going to jail to oppose a war, bearing an unexpected baby, giving up an addiction, or ending an unhealthy relationship. How we respond to the challenge of doing the thing that we don’t desire shows the nature of our character. It tells others who we are. It tells us what we are likely to accomplish in life.

Some choices seem small, like "will I floss?" Others seem big, like "Will I resign from my job over an ethical conflict?" But the little choices tend to present themselves over and over. They may reflect the flavor of our lives even more than the big choices. While it may require huge courage to take the great moral stands, our everyday tasks too call for courage and determination to carry on.

Today, reflect on your characteristic response to life’s demands.

When you are required to do something you don’t want to do what is your typical response?

Next time you feel that inner resistance to doing something that is the right thing or that you know you will have to do anyway, notice your process. What are the feelings you get in your body? What are your thoughts?

For instance, do you feel muscle tightness, a sinking feeling in your chest, tiredness? Do your thoughts run to resistance of the inevitable? Do you think about the discomfort you may feel during the activity? Do you visualize failure? Do you form resentment for whatever is pushing you to act?

If you can identify your feelings and thoughts, you can better control your responses. If you can recognize your aversions you can more easily overcome them.

Strive to do what must be done. Calm your mind and open your heart, so that you may know what those things are. Take time to rest, when rest is needed, so that you have the strength and resolve to act when action is imperative. Nourish your body so that you are strong and your movement is efficient. Nourish you soul with wisdom, so that you will know what is right to do and when it is time to do it.

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© 1998-2002 Tom Barrett