Accepting the reality of your life sounds like it should be easy enough. But many, many people hold to their own version of reality. It may be based in regret, disappointment, denial, or just waiting for something better–a promotion, for the kids to be grown, retirement, whatever. Failing to connect with reality is why some of us have pants in the closet that haven’t fit in years. More significantly, it keeps people in unfulfilling jobs or even in the wrong profession entirely.
There are few better things you can do for yourself than giving up the fictional version of your life and learning to accept yourself, your life, and your reality. Even if your situation is terrible, the first step in improving it is acknowledging it for what it is.
Here are 11 ways to cope with reality–especially the parts of reality you don’t like–and how you can change it into a reality you want.
1. Accept yourself.
Acceptance is the ability to unconditionally value all parts of who you are. That means you acknowledge all of yourself–the good and the things that need improvement. For most of us, self-acceptance can be hard. We tend to be critical of ourselves, but there are a number of ways to learn to accept yourself and your life. It all begins with your state of mind.
2. Acknowledge your reality.
Sometimes facing reality isn’t the easiest thing to do, but accepting your current situation can make you happier in the present and lead to a better future. Understanding, accepting, and working with reality is both practical and purposeful. Acknowledging your reality will help you choose your dreams wisely and then help you achieve them.
3. Practice radical honesty.
When you can admit your own pretense, you can begin to powerfully create a new future. Denying your current reality–especially if it’s a bad one–will not make it make it go away. Dealing with the bad stuff is a way to get to the good stuff–but it takes practice, practice, practice.
4. Identify your part.
To fully accept your reality, it’s important to acknowledge any role you may have played, good or bad, in getting where you are. Ask yourself questions related to your current situation to help work toward solutions. To fully accept your reality, it is important to identify what you may have done to foster success or failure. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can work toward the best next steps.
5. Admit your mistakes.
Remember that you can’t fix anything until you admit there’s a problem. Try to view your mistakes not as failures but as learning opportunities, and have the strength within to realize you control your reality and you’re the only one who can change it. Decide what’s important to you and set your mind to it.
6. Own your outcomes.
Work toward owning every part of your reality–not just the things that need work but also your strengths and successes. Owning all your outcomes can help teach you to do better next time, to see failure as a learning moment.
7. Don’t let fear get in your way.
Don’t let fears–especially fears of what others think of you–stand in your way. You must be willing to do things in the unique ways you think are best, and to reflect on any feedback you receive.
8. Count on your competencies.
It’s easy to look in the mirror and point out all your insecurities. But to face your reality, it’s best to start counting all positives. Make a list of your strengths, the things you are good at, the values that you hold, and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. Counting on your competencies helps you realize your strengths, which in turn will help you improve your attitude toward yourself.
9. Let go of your biases.
Don’t get caught up in the life you think you are supposed to have, but work on creating the reality you are meant to live. Your biases can blind you to almost any reality. You can try to ignore them, but closing your eyes won’t make them disappear. Instead, learn to understand them and let them go.
10. Accept that struggle will always be part of your reality.
Don’t shy away from challenges, but rather wade into the struggle and get comfortable with operating and living there. Struggles are a way of life, and we have to learn to confront them. And you never know–something the most challenging things can hold the greatest opportunity for success.
11. Make a plan for reaching your goal.
Include steps you will take to take to create a new reality. Break your goal into small steps that you can accomplish one at a time to build your confidence and self-worth as you go. Your new reality can begin to happen once you have a plan with specific goals.
Remember, you will never be able to create the right reality if you aren’t willing to let the wrong reality go.
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