So as it is with me, I have had a post rambling in my head and then I watch one of my favorite movies and the idea comes together.
The topic of today’s tea chat? Acceptance. I have been working on issues related to acceptance of things that are outside of my control, emotions that come up, things about myself that I would otherwise struggle with as well as things in other people. Acceptance is the key to freedom right? Well that is what they say and it certainly does feel that way to me. It certainly also did for Bridget Jones. Just after this scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary when Mark Darcey tells Bridget that he likes her she as she is, Bridget is found out with her girlfriends at a bar telling them that he said this. They are all dumbfounded. Not smarter, skinnier, bigger boobs? Nope. I know we have chatted about this scene before but I felt like it bears repeating especially around this time of year when we are often forced to deal with people places and things we otherwise wish we didn’t have to. What is it about that level of total acceptance that is so incredibly difficult for us mere mortals to practice? We want what we want when we want it exactly in the way that we want it and in the exact time frame as well. Life is messy and things don’t go our way. Sometimes it feels like that is the case most of the time. And then suddenly something comes
together almost effortlessly. This issue of acceptance hasn’t only been popping up for me but it has been coming up all around me. Most people I know these days are very much struggling with acceptance of life on life’s terms so to speak. We struggle and we struggle and then like out of thin air we watch a scene like the above one and we ooooo and ahhhh. We feel like suddenly we have been wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold day by someone we love. But why is it that we struggle against the one thing that would set us free? Gooooood question, huh?
There is a page in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (and a big book it is:) that talks so directly and eloquently about the action of acceptance that I just have to share. It goes ” And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” I love this paragraph. I have it written down and I occasionally refer to it in my work. I find that most of the time that I pull it out it is often because I need to hear it again as well. I love how the 12 step programs offer something to people whether they struggle with that particular issue or not. The program offers some spiritual guidance in a straight forward clear way. Most of the time when we are emotionally, mentally spiritually wrapped up in some struggle it is based in the foundation that there is something we are desperate trying not to accept.
We are caught in this jail cell until we can find a way of setting ourselves free. We think somehow if someone would only change their
behavior or if a certain situation would only change or if something mysteriously would pop out of thin air for us then we would miraculously be set free and be happy and joyous. Meanwhile we are the only ones who can set ourselves free and we can do that through acceptance of everything and everyone outside of our control. It almost always gets better the instant we let go of the grip we have on the rope that is burning our hands.
Radical Acceptance is a Buddhist teaching that helps us better understand the place the practice has in our healing. This is a link to an article in Psychology Today on the practice http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201207/radical-acceptance Radical Acceptance is often used in treatment for trauma and addictions because there is a lot that has occurred in the past that if not forgiven will fuel continuously self abusive patterns. This is not something that just happens to people who associate as having an addiction or trauma history but it happens to the general public as well. Think about how many times something has happened at work with a boss or co worker, maybe even a client, that you have found is outside of the realm of possibility of accepting. Who is the one that suffers from the consequences of that lack of acceptance?? Certainly not the person whom you are resenting. Almost always it is only yourself. You are the one that is sinking
yourself further into the muck. Once you practice acceptance, it frees you up emotionally, energetically to go about living your life and accessing your own happiness. Of all the struggles I have been in, the one thing that I have learned is the more time and energy I devote to the struggle the more of the struggle I get. When I let go and go practice yoga, go for a walk, go to one of my favorite cafes, etc. I am suddenly set free. I can breathe more freely again. I can see the big picture of life again. The walls are no longer closing in on me and I am not stuck in a tunnel. All of the things that you notice that happen to you during the struggle are very real biological responses to the body getting messages that the end is near. Anything that you can do to calm the nervous system will begin to lessen the stress response in the body thereby allowing you to see the big picture. When the stress response is on in the body, we act insane. That is because the pre frontal cortex literally shuts down. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for logical, rational thought. We are not capable of doing this when we are in the struggle. Practicing acceptance and self care skills begins to allow us to access
the relaxation response and brings us back into a sane place.
Back to Mark Darcey and Bridget Jones. Wouldn’t it feel awesome to feel as comforted as Bridget did in this scene? That is possibly the best
Christmas gift you could ever give yourself or someone else today. Love yourself and others just as they are. You may not like it, but that isn’t a requirement. Just accepting people, places and things as they are will begin to help your heart grow like the Grinch as we discussed in our last chat Lean on Me.
Cheers to you just as you are!