Acceptance is a very powerful skill to have. It can take time to become a master of acceptance but it all begins with awareness; like most things to do with mental wellbeing.
Why do we struggle to accept things we cannot control?
Whether this a break down of a friendship or relationship, a setback with work or a global pandemic??
The reason can vary… we as humans experience a vast and diverse range of emotions throughout our lives. During our lifetimes we go through peaks and troughs emotionally and these ‘down’ moments can have a crippling effect on us and our mental wellbeing.
One of the main triggers tends to be lack of control; leaving us feeling helpless, fearful and anxious, which quite often leads to worry.
Consistent worrying is probably one of the worse practices we could put ourselves through on a regular basis. Over-thinking and excessive worrying is dangerous for our mental health. It not only is a process that consumes a lot of energy but it also very rarely gives you a positive solution to the problem.
We can end up spending a long time running through scenarios in our head over and over again, without finding an appropriate answer to the issue. This process also tends to take us down the painful memory lane, in the search to find similar (yet totally irrelevant- may I add) scenarios of when you last felt this way. This just causes more stress, anxiety and negative emotions.
The brain is a brilliant doer, it likes to problem solve and it thinks it is helping, but when we cannot solve the problem then this is when the over-thinking can start. We then learn to react in this way in the future and therefore, inappropriate expectations can form.
In addition to this, there are many things in life that we will not have much control over. Life has too many variables that can influence our environment. As a result a tiny trigger can cause a continuous cycle of over-thinking and dragging up painful past experiences.
In addition (and yes another addition… oh there’s a lot!) we have been conditioned and have grown up in a society that encourages you not to accept things, but rather to find ways to change them, to have a ‘can-do’ attitude! To learn how to problem solve and work out a solution. We are told and assume that if we don’t like something or we think it is wrong then we need and ‘should’ change it. Therefore, it can become rather difficult to just accept a situation for what it is, especially when we feel uncomfortable or wronged by it. It sometimes feels impossible to let go of the expectations we have of ourselves and others.
But… this is crucially important: to learn the situations where actually leaving it alone is the right answer.
How do you break the cycle?
It may seem an impossible task but it just takes a lot of practice and even more patience, and as mentioned earlier it all begins with awareness. Learning to move away from a problem-solving mindset to an accepting one. If there is a situation that does not allow you to respond in a productive and positive way, then acceptance is going to be the most appropriate answer.
The first step to allow for acceptance is to notice and recognise the trends in your self talk. Self talk is the internal dialog we have with ourselves. It wants to be empowering and understanding.
The mains points to encourage an empowered and accepting self talk are:
– Acknowledge the situation you’re in… so it doesn’t seem so intimidating.
– Accept that you are in the situation or that you have an issue.
– Respect any emotions that may occur and give yourself permission to feel them.
– Create a positive end: what else is there for you to do, something that makes you happy regardless of the fact you cannot change the situation.
For example.. you may have been made redundant, and unfortunately there is nothing you can do to change that. It may feel horrible, you may be upset, frustrated, anxious, disappointed… it’s totally understandable and it’s ok to feel that way. What else could you do right now, think about new jobs and opportunities, see what support may be available? Take a luxury bath? Speak to family and friends? Do something that makes you happy, to give you a reason to smile.
This can be difficult to master and it may feel quite forced at the start to reprogram your internal dialog but the brain is always learning and the more you practice, the more it will begin to happen naturally and become a habit.
A nice little NLP point to leave to you with…
‘There is no such thing as failure, only feedback’