Clare Bowditch is one of my favourite examples. She is a writer, musician, mother, and businesswoman whose decade-long and now realised dream, is to teach creative people more about business, and businesses more about creativity. Her own venture, Big Hearted Business, continues to attract a growing community of people with talent, great ideas, and passion. So did Clare ever make room for some emotional discomfort in order to make all of this happen? Absolutely. And, for a while there, did paralysis kick in while she waited for certain I’m not good enough feelings to abate? Seemingly so, because she’s human.
And this is what sets Clare apart. Her experience and intellectual property, though highly impressive, are only part of the deal. Her chemistry however, is irreplaceable. This is why she can light up the room with her insight. She’s been there, and she’s not afraid to share it. And by ‘been there’ I refer not to stage, screen, or creative success—I refer to her daring to feel vulnerable. “We can torture ourselves with, I’m not enough, I’m never enough, I don’t have this together, I don’t have that together. What if we’re fucking perfect? What if we’re completely exactly where we’re meant to be and the only challenge is to have the inner courage to be ourselves? To be real?”
So having made room for the discomfort of certain thoughts and feelings, then what? Must they rule us in that very moment? In short, no. Acceptance isn’t about wearing your heart on your sleeve—it’s more internal and disciplined than that. Acceptance is about signing up to live a life that is guided more by our values (what we want to stand for), and less by seeking to avoid feelings we consider uncomfortable. It’s about acknowledging that a rich and meaningful life brings feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty, so waiting for such feelings to disappear entirely can only lead to stagnation where nothing moves, nothing grows, and nothing changes.
In short, acceptance is committing to tackle the ‘analysis paralysis’ common to us all at times. “One of the reasons it took me so long to take Big Hearted Business seriously—it had been sitting there as a cocoon of an idea for a decade—I was terrified of letting go of the security that I had in my career as a musician. It was hard for me to make myself vulnerable”. But she did it. And she’s alive to share that really good things happen when you lean beyond your comfort zone.
Acceptance remains a practice central to many ancient traditions, and far more is known about it than covered in this blog. The evolving fields of contextual behavioural science and positive psychology continue to explore acceptance and how it contributes to thriving in contemporary lives. And then there are people like Clare who nail what acceptance is all about in their own words: “There’s a part of me that will always be tortured, because I’m a human being. But what if I’m not constantly playing to that bit? I had to stop trying to make it neat and accept it is messy. It is chaotic. This is the act of creation. This is what we’re part of.”
And that is why Clare Bowditch is a rock star. Literally and metaphorically.