Accepting What Is

As estate planners, we consistently meet with people who are suffering from traumatic relationships with their children or grandchildren. Children themselves may become estranged or at odds with parents or their siblings. Sometimes, an in-law is involved that seems to turn the client’s son or daughter into someone completely different from the child they raised. The pain that these clients are going through is palpable.

Some wise sage once said that all pain comes from resistance. Many of these relationship issues may be difficult or impossible to overcome, but one thing we can all do is work on ourselves -- by accepting what is. Accepting what is does not mean agreeing with or condoning certain behavior. What it does mean is that you stop saying to yourself that it is not fair, it “should” be otherwise, etc. That will not do you one bit of good and may do you considerable harm. Stress has been called “the silent killer”.

We recall reading a pithy quote a while back that went something like this “when someone disappoints you, you have two choices, you can either lower your expectations or walk away”. What is disappointment but dashed expectations? Those who learn to expect less are disappointed less.

“Accepting what is” cannot be accomplished overnight. It is a concept or thought process that improves your outlook the more you think about it, work on it and form new neural pathways to forge the new outlook.

Estate planners inevitably becomes “therapists” for their clients because estate planning involves social relationships. Over the years, we have observed that many social problems occur between the clients two ears. As Shakespeare said in Hamlet “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Forget about what’s fair or right and what’s not. You are only hurting yourself. The other person is often blissfully unaware of how you’re feeling. Michael J. Fox, the actor known for his optimism despite suffering from Parkinson’s, put it best when he said “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations”.

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