One struggle in therapy and in life for some is coming to terms with the paradox that in order to be well we must simultaneously
1. Accept and love ourselves for who we are
2. Change and grow
The two are seemingly in conflict with each other, and for some may contribute to a grander sense that much of life is outside of our control.
In his study of Open Space Technology, Harrison Owen offers what he calls "Four Immutable Laws of the Spirit". These principles acknowledge our agency to make decisions for ourselves while simultaneously recognizing the aspects of our lives that are beyond our control and are meant to be beyond our control. This doesn't have to be scary- in fact, any one of these principles can serve as its own mantra for recentering, purpose, and mindfulness.
The Laws of the Spirit are as follows:
Whenever it begins is the right time
The sun doesn’t rise a moment earlier than it is supposed to—that’s just the way of nature. If you aren’t starting something now, it means that something else may need to fall into place first. Sometimes it is up to you to make that happen, and other times it has nothing to do with you. Be open to the magic. Do your part to be ready. Accept the present moment and trust that it will lead you to the next one when it’s time.
Whoever is present are the right people
Remember that whoever is present are the right people. Maybe these are the people who care most about you, your presence, your effort, your message, or what you’re offering in that moment. Or it could be that these are the people whom you most need to teach you something. Why would you want anyone else there? These are the people who will make this moment all that it needs to be. Trust that the universe always provides exactly what is needed—even if that comes as interaction or feedback you don’t particularly like.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened
When we aren’t sure of what might happen, we can spin ourselves into anxiety under the weight of so many possibilities. There is no need to invest in such a cycle because whatever happens is the only thing that is supposed to happen. All we can control is to accept this moment and perhaps ask ourselves what our next move will be. There are always lessons for growth when things don’t go as we imagined. We can look at how we contributed and work on patterns that don’t serve us so that we reduce the chance of manifesting that kind of moment again.
When it’s over, it’s over
Life, like the earth and moon, is in constant motion. Things begin and end. When they are over, they are over. Humans have a way of trying to hold on to things—youth, security, jobs, love, and life. The reality is that life is in constant flow from one thing to another. When you stop moving or try to hold back the natural progression of things, you create stagnation for yourself. Let things pass so that new things can be born.
Interpretation by Laura Giles, LCSW (2018) and Kendall Krebs, LMSW (2020)