Here’s an abridged piece from my new book, Healing Your Life. I first wrote about it back in 1994. This is today’s version…
There are two fundamentals rules of rational living. These equate to a happy life, not only in terms of the “feel good” factor. They also work well as foundations for personal growth, competence and efficiency, in work, play and relationships. Following these rules will lead you towards a “stress-free” emotional environment, meaning no unwanted hostilities.
The keynote is acceptance. Not the cissy feeble-mindedness of those who cannot oppose their misfortune and so decide it is “good” for them. But acceptance as the powerful spiritual strength of those who are able to withstand the buffeting of many adverse forces that surround them, yet remain firm, facing true north, centered and strong.
Rule 1. Whatever happens, be able to accept the experience willingly and get the best out of it you can.
If you could accept anything at all which befell you, you would never be unhappy. Think about this.
Rule 2. Cause only those experiences that other people can easily accept.
It is fine to say, “If they don’t like it, it’s their problem” when you do something they cannot tolerate. But it will certainly be YOUR problem too if these are people with whom you have to live and work! They will become a source of negative feelings and energy that kick back against you.
If you want to experience the challenge of living with friends, colleagues and family members you have disturbed emotionally, then by all means stir them up; do plenty that is beyond their ability to accept. You will have a hell of a tough time!
However, it is far smarter to create the kind of environment around yourself that is a pleasure to live in. In which case you cannot violate rule 2.
I was shocked to find how poor the dictionary definitions were for the word acceptance. Most used the word accept or even acceptance in their definition! Webster’s New International, for example, says the act of accepting; state of being accepted or acceptable; also consent to receive. That’s poor indeed. Funk and Wagnall uses the exact same definition, word for word (dictionaries often copy each other)!
Dictionary.com does better:
- the act of taking or receiving something offered.
- favorable reception; approval; favor.
- the act of assenting or believing…
But then you have to look up assenting and perhaps favorable. It’s such a crucial thing to have our key words clarified that I’ll help you out here (I think I was a lexicographer in a past life somewhere!)
• Acceptance means the act of or state of mind of…
• Allowing something to happen
• Allowing it to be
• Not resisting or rejecting
• Consenting or approving, without changing it
• Receiving with favour
• Saying YES to
• Not arguing with or speaking against
• A willingness for something to be the way it is…
The key concepts here are willingness and consenting. It means something more than just “putting up with” something. That’s tolerance. Acceptance is a warmth and positiveness about whatever it is you are accepting. It’s an act; you DO acceptance.
The breadth of a person’s acceptance is a very good measure of their overall sanity. An individual with a very low tolerance level is not for this world, which is harsh, random, forceful and painful.
Beyond a person’s threshold of acceptance, he or she experiences increasing discomfort and unhappiness. One way to reduce your stress levels then, is to extend your threshold of tolerance. This next step will show you how.
The Acceptance Rubric
Try this simple but healing procedure… on yourself, on others around you, with anyone you can be a Samaritan to!
Start by making of list of areas in your life where you would like to reduce the stress you feel. That means anywhere in which you feel doubt, frustration, overwhelm or fatigue.
Now choose one area of your life and acknowledge its limitations. How would it be if you could accept that part of your life, just as it is, now, without even changing it?
2. Using the Solutions Focus technique of “scaling”, figure out where your acceptance is on a scale of 1 – 10 in respect of that difficulty.
So: “On a scale of 1- 10, what is your acceptance of that situation/problem/ person, whatever…?” If you are doing it with other people, don’t worry about oddball answers like, 11 out of 10 or minus 50 out of ten. Take them as what they are: just figures of speech, rather than numbers.
If numbers don’t mean anything to you, just use words, like “a lot”, “a little”, “massive” and so on.
3. Now ask the million dollar question: “Are you willing to allow your acceptance of that (whatever) to increase?” You are not going to try to force a better outcome, but simply be willing to let it happen.
You want a “Yes”, of course. If it’s OK then say, “Let your acceptance increase” or if you are doing it alone “I allow my acceptance of this situation to increase”.
4. Then check: “What is your level of acceptance of (whatever)… now?”
5. Get a new number and again ask: “Am I willing to let my acceptance of that increase?”
Repeat 3 and 4, over and over. Notice how you may feel calmer, lighter and more at peace as the acceptance numbers rise.
Important: It must be made very clear you are not trying to fix the problem. The outcome is not the disappearance of the problem or difficulty; the outcome is accepting it, fully and freely. But don’t be surprised if it becomes a teeny bit less of a problem!
Finding It Hard?
If you bog down (or the person you are working with bogs), try breaking it up: “What part of that problem or area can you accept?”
Ask if it’s OK to allow acceptance of part of the problem area to increase. Let it rise. Then go to another area or part of the situation that can be accepted. Raise acceptance on that. Sooner or later, the whole will begin to shift, not just the parts.
If you can’t get any change then you are resisting (or the person you are working with is resisting). In which case call up the resistance: name it! Then ask:
“On a scale of 1 – 10, what is your acceptance level to this resistance?”
Work on that acceptance let it rise and pretty soon the resistance will melt. Then go back to acceptance of the original issue and that should rise too.
Again, you are not solving the problem, you are working on acceptance!
Remember: that part of your mind which is resisting is trying to protect you in some way. There is no need to ask what or how; but at least honor it. Don’t spit and snarl; thank the part for trying to help you! Accept your resistance and then it will begin to melt.
There are tons more rubrics like this one: simple techniques or strategies that turn life around. Note: I don’t dabble in explanations. Let others write the stuffy books on that. I do fixes! That’s what you really want.
Time to get yourself an instant copy of the new book Healing Your Life I’ve released it in digital format, so no excuses, OK?