Acceptance: Learning to let go
Sometimes things happen in our lives that are totally out of our control, for example, what is happening now with Covid-19. We normally fall so easily into resisting things that don’t feel good, and it is this resistance that makes it even more difficult to accept what’s happening.
You may find that you are experiencing thoughts such as “When is this going to stop?”, “I want it to end now!”, “How long is this going to go on for?”, these are signs that you are resisting the current situation. When you resist things that are out of your control, it doesn’t change anything, all it does is add to our own suffering.
In situations such as COVID-19, “resistance is futile”, there is absolutely nothing that you can do to stop it or change it, no matter how much you worry, stress, rant or rage about it. When you allow yourself to get carried away by your own thoughts, feelings and emotions, the only thing that changes is your own lack of inner peace. Pain is inevitable in life, it comes and goes, but you can learn to reduce the amount of suffering by letting go of the resistance.
You may not have control over what happens with COVID-19, but you DO have control over your own thoughts and feelings. Learning to accept a situation as it is, is a much healthier way of dealing with something that you can’t control. Acceptance will lead to less stress, anxiety, worry, anger and sadness.
With acceptance, you don’t have to like something or condone what’s happening; equally it is not about lying down and giving up. Acceptance is about recognising a process or condition without attempting to change it or protest it, especially if you can’t do anything about it.
Below are 5 steps that you can take to help you accept a situation exactly as it is and let go of the resistance.
5 Steps to Acceptance (Using Covid-19 as an example)
Note: It is important not to suppress or ignore the thoughts, feelings & physical sensations you are experiencing as this will just make things worse.
Note: Meditating regularly and/or having a mindfulness practice can really help you to get more in touch with your thoughts, feelings and emotions and bring you back into the present moment.
You always have a choice, even when you think there is no choice
You ALWAYS have a choice about how you respond.
In any event that you find is causing you concern there is always the stimulus, this can be:
a. Something that is occurring externally
b. An internal worry about something that might happen in the future
c. An event that has happened in the past that still makes you anxious when you think about it.
As soon as you recognise the thoughts, feelings and physical emotions that arise, you have a choice at that point about how you respond.
You can take control of your thoughts and feelings (by using the 5 step process above) and respond in a positive way, which will lead to feelings of being calm and in control.
You can lose control of your thoughts and feelings and respond in a negative way, which will lead to stress, anxiety and worry.
You are the thinker of your thoughts, no one else does it for you, and with practice you can learn to reign in those thoughts and feelings. Over time this will help you to feel a lot calmer and peaceful even when everyone around you may be losing their head.
The "5 Steps to Acceptance" process described above can be used for any challenging situation that you may be experiencing in your life, when you feel out of control. You can download a blank acceptance worksheet here.