Building A Life From Which You Do Not Need To Escape - Part 3: Acceptance
This post is a follow up to previous posts “Building A Life From Which You Do Need To Escape: Part 1 and Part 2”, so hopefully you have read those.
In Part 1 we focused on building an internal life from which we do not want to escape and suggested that PRACTICING PRESENCE PERSISTENTLY is the foundation upon which the rest is built. In part 2 we suggested that SELF -AWARENESS was also an important part of the process. In this post we will focus on ACCEPTANCE.
The building process can be very challenging. For anyone who has been lucky enough to go through the process of building a house for example, they can most likely testify to how challenging it can be. There are so many small decisions that have to keep being made, things keep changing, and sometimes things don’t turn out the way we thought, or hoped they would. Building a life from which we do not need to escape is no different. As discussed in previous posts, our ability to be present in the process and aware of how we perceive ourselves is crucial, but so is ACCEPTANCE.
Acceptance can be a tricky concept because when some people hear the word acceptance, they sometimes think of it in a negative light. Take emotions, for example; when experiencing emotions that we find uncomfortable, it can be difficult to accept them instead of trying to avoid them. We avoid them because we have decided we would rather not feel them. The question is, why did we decide that avoidance was a good strategy to begin with, and how has that been working for us? Take the experience of anxiety for example. For those who have experienced anxiety, most would probably testify that if told to avoid being anxious, the simple act of trying to avoid it creates more anxiety. However, should we be present and aware enough to observe our anxiety and accept it as it is, most of the time that would yield much better results than trying to avoid it.
Along with avoidance, acceptance has another enemy, craving. We also see this play out in our emotional world. Often when we find ourselves craving emotions that we have labeled as good, especially if we perceive what we are experiencing now as bad. We are wired to experience a whole range of emotions. Yet, for some reason we often decide to put those inherent experiences on the chopping block and try to dice them up into good and bad, emotions that should be avoided and emotions that should be sought after. The problem is when we do this, we are often missing the messages in the emotions that we are experiencing. For example, if we lose someone that we loved and we find ourselves feeling sad, that sadness is confirming just how much we loved that person and that love is something that we value. In this context it can be helpful to think of acceptance as a two-sided coin. If we are sad because we lost someone we loved, acceptance allows us to experience that sadness, then flip it over and understand that on the other side of that coin is how much we loved that person. However, if we see sadness as bad and try to avoid it, we run the risk of also avoiding the message on the other side of that coin, which is how much we value love. Whatever we are experiencing, is what we are experiencing, and acceptance allows us to honor those experiences and hear whatever message is in there for us.
Whatever we are experiencing, is what we are experiencing, and acceptance allows us to honor those experiences and hear whatever message is in there for us.
When we experience depression, anxiety, anger, or fear, for example, it’s not easy to accept those experiences for what they are. However, how do you usually feel when you are experiencing one of those and someone says something to you like, “you shouldn’t be feeling that” or “just pull yourself together” or “why don’t you choose to be happy”? That kind of advice is usually not very well received and can also often make things worse, right? So why do we often speak to ourselves that way? “I shouldn’t be feeling this, I should be happy or grateful, something is wrong with me, why can’t I just be happy?” Most of us can relate to this type of internal response to what we are often experiencing at some time or another. The biggest myth of all is, that somehow if we accept what we are experiencing, we are giving into it and that will only make it worse. Another myth is, that accepting whatever we are experiencing somehow takes away our ability to get our needs meet, set healthy boundaries, or even build a life from which we do need to escape. These myths could not be further from the truth, ACCEPTANCE allows us to love ourselves for who we are and live authentic lives. Please feel free to reach out to the team at Solace to learn more about this process.
Stay tuned for Part 4 of Building A Life From Which You Do Not Need To Escape.