It has been said that a man can lead his horse to water, but cannot force him to drink. The same principle applies in our daily lives. Most of us can see (or have been graciously told) what our lives are in need of—whether it’s more time, more excitement, more peace, or less stress. But how do you go about making the change? In the words of Grand Master Lu, “True change involves the willingness to see and accept our deepest selves.”

As in the horse analogy above, countless people can tell you what the issues are from their perspectives, but change needs to come from within. The horse can stand in front of a trough of water on a hot day, but will not drink until he is ready. Until you internalize the message you’ve been receiving and begin to understand how these negative behaviors are impacting your life and the lives of those around you, you will not (and cannot) begin to make changes.

The first step is acknowledging what is off-balance in your life. This can sometimes take years. People have been stuck in a routine for so long that they cannot see beyond it. But once you have crossed the threshold and are able to see, take it a step further—practice acceptance. How many times do you accept something—without batting an eye—in the workplace or in your personal life? Why then is it so hard to accept our own flaws?

Start by praising yourself for a job well done. It’s hard to step out of our comfort zones and recognize that a change needs to be made. But you succeeded in doing that. Understand that you are human, and humans have flaws. The flaws are not bad—they are what help us relate to others.

Now look in the mirror and lay it all out there. What are you holding onto? What is keeping you from living to your highest potential? Be honest with yourself. If it helps to write your thoughts in a journal, do it. If it’s more comfortable for you to just speak aloud in a quiet room, do that. But be sure to continue this exercise until you feel that you’ve reached that “Aha!” moment—that time in your life when the puzzle pieces start to come together and everything begins to make sense. That is when you begin to truly understand your deepest self. And once you can accept who you are—with all of your beauty and all of your flaws—you can begin the path toward true and lasting change.

 

Mind, Body, Spirit, TCM

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