Receiving something offered; not resisting what is; going with the flow
It’s easy to accept a good thing when it’s offered, not so easy when life presents an upsetting or life-threatening challenge. Acceptance doesn’t mean liking, wanting or agreeing with what is, it’s a matter of embracing what’s happening because it has a purpose. Doing so, allows us to work on discovering why something’s happening so we can understand the cause and return to balanced living.
Easier said than done, especially for those who’ve lost a loved one, people who are hungry or starving, being abused, treated unfairly or struggling with physical or mental illness. The rest of us can offer them compassion and prayers, perhaps direct assistance or support if conditions allow. Whatever the challenge, we have a choice—to ignore the pain (whether it’s ours or someone else’s) accept or reject it. Ignoring maintains the situation and over time the pain evolves from a “whisper” to a “scream” for attention. Accepting what is, aligns us with reality and opens the door for positive action.
Everything that needs to happen happens exactly when it needs to because the intelligence of life is guiding our every move. Our real healing comes from the unconditional acceptance that accompanies this realization. — Jacob Israel Liberman, author, Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living
In The Power of Acceptance, Chuck Danes, independent researcher and founder of Enlightened Journey Enterprises, says “Resistance, although often “perceived” as being the means to avoid unpleasant and undesirable experiences, is in actuality the very choice that enables the unpleasant to become real… (it) only serves to draw to you more of the ‘unpleasant,’ the polar opposite of what so many claim they want.” Conversely, accepting what is allows us to attract what we want rather than unconsciously attracting what we don’t want. Danes continues, “Resistance becomes real by choosing a state of fear, doubt, worry and anxiety and the result is the attraction, manifestation, and growth of the thing resisted. Acceptance becomes real by choosing to accept the circumstances as they are, absent fear, doubt, worry and anxiety and all that can grow from this ‘chosen state’ are acceptable or pleasing circumstances.”
Getting To Acceptance
Consciousness is fundamental. Thought precedes and produces form. So every form, experience, condition and circumstance in our lives is a result of our thinking. Pain, discomfort and annoyances occur for two reasons. They’re a consequence of erroneous beliefs about ourselves, others and the world, thinking that’s out of harmony with the intelligence of the universe. Or they’re required by the soul, formulated prior to incarnation, lessons necessary for our evolution. In both cases, acceptance is a graceful path. In the former, we accept what is and work on changing erroneous beliefs. In the latter, we accept that the condition is necessary for growth and allow it to unfold as it will. Go with the flow. Resisting in either situation makes no sense. It just creates a lot of friction—in us and beyond us.
In her book, The Energy Codes: The 7-Step System to Awaken Your Spirit, Heal Your Body, and Live Your Best Life, Dr. Sue Morter speaks of acceptance. “When you really get down to it, we either embrace or reject everything in life. When we say or even think or feel, ‘This isn’t happening,’ or ‘I can’t accept this’—when we avoid looking at our reality clearly because we don’t like what we see, or when something happens that doesn’t live up to our conscious desires and expectations—we are rejecting it… When we are rejecting, we are disconnecting from our ability to metabolize life: to lean in, to release, to move on. Our resistance then becomes an interference or blockage in that spot in our system, and our flow stops there… It doesn’t go away.” So healing—unblocking— becomes necessary.
The way to change a circumstance or condition that’s intermittent or temporary is to become aware of both conscious and subconscious negative beliefs (I write them down) and replace them with positive beliefs, those that align with the energies of love, self-compassion, confidence, joy and forgiveness—and adjust our view of people and life in general. Because thoughts create form—reality—if I expect that bad things are going to happen, they will. If I believe things won’t work out for me, they won’t. If I believe money is scarce, it will be. Fear creates reasons to fear; hate creates reasons to hate; lack of self-confidence produces evidence of it, and feeling unloved produces that reality—but only so long as the negative beliefs or feelings persist.
Negative thoughts are transformed by becoming aware of them and immediately reframing them in the positive. From “I’m not…” to “I am…” When something triggers a negative thought, we turn it around and accept the positive. In this regard, significant progress occurs when we shift negative assumptions about life or the world into positive ones. (See my blog entitled “Worldview”). Examples of positive, health-promoting worldviews include the belief that ultimately, everything happens for a good reason, that there is perfection in being, yet progress still needs to be made in becoming, that all of creation is the Infinite Creator’s expression of love, that good and evil, right and wrong, true and false—all dualities—are two sides of the same coin, that 13.5 billion years of evolution shows us what works, that all is well and All is One.
My work is loving the world. — Mary Oliver, American poet
For photographers and other artists, especially empowering is the Jesuit imperative to “See God in all things.” Eckhart Tolle speaks of acceptance as “A surrender to the Now… strength, peace and serenity are available when one stops struggling to resist or hang on tightly to what is so in any given moment. What do I have right now? Now, what am I experiencing?… Acceptance means allowing; allowing unwanted private experiences (thoughts, feelings and urges) to come and go without struggling with them.” And there’s the familiar quote by Reinhold Niebuhr adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous—“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Heidegger said, “I care, therefore I am.” William Blake said, “I am in you, and you in me, mutual in love divine.” And Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “The physical structure of the universe is love.”
All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. — Ramana Maharshi, Indian Hindu sage
Higher Level Acceptance
Each of us is here for a reason. As noted, one of the main reasons has to do with fulfilling the requirements of the soul—karma. Beyond that, pain in the body-mind is a signal that our thinking and behavior is out of step with the vibrant wholeness that we are in reality. A line of thought that helps me get back on track both personally and socially, is remembering that those of us alive now constitute the leading edge of evolution. How we look physically, how we talk and behave, what we talk about and how we dress, our customs, beliefs, what we’ve built, what we’re working on, triumphs and tragedies are the legacy of all that and those who’ve come before us. Now, life is calling for us to move global evolution and the human project forward.
Will we accept our role in this? What are the kinds of thinking, building and relating that would benefit the next generation—and those to come? We know what lifts consciousness—love, joy, compassion, inclusion, collaboration, virtuous living and stewardship of our planetary home. And we are the generation of choice. Will we ignore the signals—the pains in our personal, national and global bodies that are telling us where different thinking and behaviors are needed. Will we resist and persist in dysfunctional thinking, valuing and behaving; create more friction and fear, producing more frequent and more severe breakdowns? Or will we accept the precepts of the wisdom teachers in all cultures and traditions, align with nature, adopt sustainable innovations and shift the kind and quality of our “doing” so life at all levels can thrive?
As noted, pain directs our attention to the locations of blockage or dysfunction. In the social body, these are the places of breakdown, including confrontations and disruptions of order. Allowed to continue, they get worse and become chronic, eventuating in a crisis, a threat to survival. Given the area of concern, what is the thinking and valuing, especially in the subconscious, that’s creating the disfunction? With a little reflection, the erroneous beliefs appear—along with right-thinking solutions.
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. — Epictetus
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