When we think of acceptance, we tend to think that we need to be ok with whatever is happening.  We think that accepting means we should just let whatever is being done happen.  Then our ego mind gets in to the “this shouldn’t be happening” and this isn’t the way life should be” mode.  This state of mind of what should be happening is really denying the truth of the reality of the situation.  This denial of the reality of the situation, adds a whole other layer of “suffering” to the situation.  Not only are you dealing with a challenging or frustrating situation, now you are dealing with the resistance of the situation on top of the reality that you are faced with. The opposite of acceptance is resistance.

Radical Acceptance is the key to not banging your head against the wall in situations; to not resist the truth of your current reality.  A very simple, easy, everyday example of this would be sitting in traffic on your way to somewhere that you need to be.  You are driving in your car on the way to work and are faced with a traffic jam which is now going to make you late to work.  This angers and frustrates you.  Your feelings are valid but are they helpful?  You are now all tense, perhaps yelling at the traffic. Unfortunately, your reaction to this situation does not help move the traffic along.  What your mind is saying is “this shouldn’t be happening, I don’t have time for this, this isn’t fair”.  So here you sit feeling helpless, a victim of your circumstance.  What you don’t realize is that you have a choice in this situation.  No, you cannot control the traffic situation, but what you can control is your reaction or better yet, your response to the situation.  You can choose to sit feeling frustrated, angry, and helpless OR you can choose to respond in a different way.  You can catch up on some phone calls that you have not had time for or you can put on your favorite music which will help your current mood.

We may not have a choice of what we are faced with, but we always have a choice of our response to the reality of the situation.  Accepting what we are faced with does not mean we agree with it or are saying it is ok.  Once we radically accept our current reality, then we no longer feel helpless.  We can make a conscious decision of how to respond which will help us to be empowered.

By Natalie Gervasio CSLC