Life will always be full of ups and downs, and at times, it will be painful and unfair to you. But once you learn to accept the things that you cannot change, you will not only be happier, you will also be able to live a more emotionally content and fulfilled life.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
Think of a current problem upsetting you right now. It may be related to a relationship, your finances, career, health, or otherwise. Try to get a sense of how it is affecting you while distancing yourself from the mental chatter. The idea of acceptance is difficult to grasp for many because people believe it implies resignation or apathy.
In fact, acceptance means letting go of worry, fear, anger, and negative emotions and choosing peace instead. Often, what we experience isn’t the real cause of our suffering, as much as our thoughts about it. And since we cannot control our thoughts, we try desperately to make sense of what is taking place.
Can you identify with this regarding your experience? Because we are close to the experience, the pain feels real, and regrettably, we get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions. The good news is, there are several therapies such as ACT and CBT that focus on accepting our thoughts and learning to diffuse them.
The premise underlying any unpleasant experiences is learning to accept our thoughts, which neutralizes our pain and suffering. This is because our thoughts are saboteurs that convince us things are more distressing than they are (known as catastrophizing). It is by better understanding the thinking process, we realize that thoughts come and go from our mind and there’s no use giving them more energy.
Acceptance allows you the freedom to be yourself because when we’re consumed by pain and suffering, we are not our true selves. Have you experienced this before of not inhabiting your body but controlled by your thoughts and emotions? When we accept things as they are, we develop greater psychological flexibility and what happens is aligned for our greater good.
Now, let me be clear, I am not saying we should accept any form of harassment, abuse, bullying, hatred, criminal acts of violence, etc. I am saying, to ease our pain and suffering, we must accept the situation as it is, even though we may not like what is happening. Acceptance opens the door to our healing, which should be our priority over feeling good in the interim. Can you see where I’m coming from?
Our long-term wellbeing should take priority over feeling good in the meantime. Healing means developing a new lens through which to view our circumstances, instead of being caught up in negativity.
When we heal, we align with our authentic nature instead of being governed by fleeting thoughts and emotions. Healing is a journey into oneself to discover the true essence of who we are. It is not meant to be a pleasant experience and sometimes can be more painful than the initial wounds.
But we must take that journey if we want to live authentically, otherwise, we will continually run into problems. Sometimes, it is difficult because we may not be ready for what lies ahead.
Here’s the good and bad news: No one has their affairs in order. I’m yet to meet a single person free of emotional wounds and whose thoughts are peaceful and harmonious. Each of us is afflicted by some form of mental and emotional suffering, and we’re all trying to find our way in the world. Some of us are doing a better job than others, but it doesn’t mean we cannot find our way.