Acceptance - the Royal Road to Inner Peace
Updated: Nov 14, 2018
Most of us think that the cause of our suffering is outside of ourselves – our partners, our children, the government, the state of our finances, the weather... but, if we learn to watch our minds very carefully, we begin to see that it is our minds that cause most of our suffering.
The essential problem is that our minds very often:
- don’t want what we have
- and want what we don’t have.
Let's take an example. You get up in the morning on a bad day and you’re not feeling very well and you feel irritated that you have a cold. You get dressed and you dislike the fact that your clothes are feeling tight. You wish that you were a bit thinner. You go outside and the sky is grey and you feel disenchanted: “it’s cloudy again!” You long for sunny days. Getting to your destination takes longer than normal and it irks you. You wish that you didn’t have to do this. On the way, you remember some chores that you’ve been putting off and you feel irritated. At some stage you log in to your computer and you see dozens of emails that you wish weren’t there. Later, at home, you find yourself angry with your partner. You wish they were different in some way – more of a partner, more understanding, more loving, less distant, more responsible, not so critical, less needy, more able to work through issues with you...
And so it goes - one aversion after another.
On a 'good' day, we do this less but we still tend to do it.
The truth is that, day after day, in small (and sometimes big) ways we wish that things were different from the way they are.
And this resistance causes us tremendous mental and emotional turmoil and all of it is unnecessary. If the sky is grey, there’s nothing we can do about it. It is grey. If our finances are stretched, our finances are stretched. We can, of course, decide to do something about it going forward but, for now, the finances are stretched. Our weight is also exactly as it is. We can resolve to lose some weight in the future but, for now, our weight is our weight. If we need to work or to take the children to school, this is what we need to do. Sometimes the commute will take longer than at other times. There’s nothing much we can do about that either. We can resolve to reduce the number of emails in the future but - short of deleting them - we cannot do anything about the number sitting in our inbox right now.
Reality is reality and one of the things that I find myself saying over and over again - both to myself and to my clients - is:
"Don't fight reality... reality will always win!"
So, how do we change this?
Well, the answer lies in acceptance:
- accepting that we are far from perfect (and that includes all of us)
- accepting that things are not as we think they should be
- accepting that things are just as they are.
Acceptance makes for a much happier and a far more peaceful life!
Yes, you may say: “That’s all very well. I get it. We can’t change anything in the present. I also get it that we can change some things in the future. I can also see that life would be a lot easier if we could just accept things, but it’s not that easy to just accept things as they are!”
And, you’d be quite right!
Part of the reason for this is that we are genetically designed to resist unpleasantness.
We want things to be secure, safe and pleasant but the problem is that only a part of life is like that.
Coming to terms with life - as it really is - helps enormously and we can learn to do this bit-by-bit.
The more we learn to accept life, the more peaceful we will be.
We also have to be careful that we don't buy into the reality-resisting stories in our head. “Why is the wind blowing again? I just can’t take the wind. It makes me irritable. I want stillness. That’s just how I am. This wind is ridiculous!”
The alternative to buying into the complaining voice is to get curious and turn inwards - to see the stories that our minds are generating faster than a printing press and to notice the feelings that result.
If we do this we will begin to see how self-defeating it all is. The weather is as the weather is and we might as well accept it. And, if we do - if we really do - we will experience a lightness, even a joy and we might even find ourselves laughing aloud at the sheer insanity of being angry at the weather.
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