The Freedom of Acceptance

Acceptance creates possibilities because you do not waste your time and energy on what you cannot impact. Effectively, instead of continuing to play tug-of-war, with a problem, negative personality or self sabotaging thoughts, you simply drop the rope.

Yes, just let go of the rope.

Now you have two hands free to put to work more usefully say on what matters to you most. Instead of looking towards or into the gaping pit of doom you can look elsewhere, to the things that are important but urgent, those things that have the greatest return on investment if you would spend some focused time on them.

Your mental and emotional reserves are not being siphoned off, rather you can restore them to full levels. Now you can resist the distractions that clutter up your day, mind and desk. You can ignore the siren’s call of “as soon as”. You can stop fretting about the past and worrying about the future. You live in the present.

To make the most of the power and possibilities of acceptance you must know what matters to you most.

  • So what is so precious to you that it stirs up an intense emotion?
  • What is underneath that emotion, a basic need such as security, love, recognition, status or value?
  • How important is it for you to let go of the rope and turn towards a more compelling possibility?

Evasiveness Has No Useful Role

Acceptance is not only about the present. It is also about the past. We all play the roles we assume early in life. Some are healthy and give us focus, like the person who dreams of becoming a dancer and then does what it takes in a life-nurturing way to realize the dream. Some roles are not so healthy like deciding early on you “don’t want to work that hard” and therefore default to playing the victim when life becomes difficult.

Deciding to act a different way, to take on a new healthy role is a product of acceptance. Taking the easy way out is a tough habit to break, especially because evasiveness sometimes works. It is a habit that begins in a childhood as a way to undermine authority and avoid responsibility for our actions. Maturity and acceptance is marked by honesty and taking responsibility.  You could argue the purpose of authority is to outgrow the need for it.

Being a chameleon works in the short-term but eventually the truth always comes out. It is true that we become vulnerable to criticism and rejection when we are honest. It is also true that the more we become attuned to our instincts and know what to say when, to whom and how.  Self-acceptance and flexibility of mind accelerates your growth and understanding. Holding on to the past because we think it is the only way to live means you will miss golden opportunities.

Ask yourself what is my motive for avoiding this?

Am I am holding on to the past? Is this useful?

Am I protecting myself from real danger or from the possible pain of growth?

The Opposite of Control is Not Resolution

The opposite of control is not resolution it is willingness to accept our emotions and reactions to events. Willingness is a decision. Willingness refers to how open you are to experiencing your life, reactions and thoughts as they occur – without trying to manipulate it, avoid it, escape it, or change it. This applies to both the internal experience of your emotions and thoughts and to external experiences, the actions feelings, thoughts and decision of others.

Simply you have what you have when you have it. You don’t have to like it, you do not have to agree and it will not always be pleasant, but it will be.  Once you simply let your thoughts and feelings bubble up you gain some distance from them. You can make an active decision of about your feelings and what to do next. The control in your hand and not someone or something else’s control.

How to come to acceptance:

  • Notice how you are reacting.  Does you heart rate shoot up?  Is your lower back start to ache? Are your thoughts running wild with fears of being rejected?
  • Be compassionate regarding your experience. Your responses to experiences are not good or bad, they are just reactions, even if those reactions feel a specific way. Consider how you respond when a close friends or family member confides in you. Give yourself the same measure of compassion.
  •  Acceptance is not about giving up. Let me say that again. Acceptance is not about giving up. Nor is it about t about resigning to live with emotional pain. It does not mean you will be constantly overwhelmed.
  •  Acceptance is a door waiting for you turn walk through by turning the key of accepting yourself on faith.  People are worthy, capable and whole. People are doing their best in the moment, even when it seems they are not. Are you willing to see yourself as worthy, whole, and capable in this and every moment?

The Illusion of Control

We often attempt to control our emotions, especially the unpleasant ones, like fear, anxiety, anger and sadness. There are many good reasons for doing so.

  • Seems like a reasonable goal. Who wants to be unstable mess or Captain Negative all of the time?
  • Being “in control” is often equated with positive qualities. Yes, and certainly you want to be able to keep your head straight and stay calm in a storm. But you don’t want to go throughout life numb. Or like a pressure cooker without a release valve, so no steam is let off, ready to blow.
  • Sometimes emotional control does work. Not giving to the urge to cry or scream in your office, after the day from H. E. double hockey sticks feels great. Keeping yourself from getting hurt again in a relationship is entirely reasonable.
  • It seems like other people can control their emotions. You should be able too right?
  • Control works well in other areas of our life. Control requires discipline, and when you control what you eat, and regularly exercise your get good healthy results. Seems like that same approach, focus on only the good stuff, should apply everywhere.

However, research suggests it is not possible to gain complete control over feelings.

  • Attempts to control emotions are not effective in the long-term
  • Attempts to control emotions don’t work when you really need them to
  • Attempts to control emotions often backfire

Most people want a meaningful rich life, full of experiences. You cannot have a meaningful life one without emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly. A meaningful life requires honest relationships with yourself and others, and taking chances, both of which mean you are vulnerable. To love is to choose to be vulnerable. To explore requires knowing and risking disappointment. Speaking your mind means people may disagree with you. To grow means you’ll try something new and could feel awkward at first.

Two questions for you to consider the about illusion of control:

  1. When you clamp down on your emotions what are you hoping to gain?
  2. What do you actually get?

One final question for you:

What do you really want a rich deeply meaningful life or a ho-hum or numb life?