Have you ever had a conversation with another person and responded to the story by saying,
“Well, you’re a better person than me because I would feel _________ in that situation.”
I’ve said something to that effect countless times in my life, and it is a big fat horrible judgement that connects feeling an emotion to my worth as a person.
If I feel anger it makes me a bad person.
If I feel jealous it makes me a bad person.
If I feel sad, frustrated, irritated, upset, mad, ignored, it makes me a bad person.
NO! It doesn’t make you a bad person! It makes you human!!!!! Every person in the world feels the spectrum of emotion. The highs and the lows. And our flawed logic that connects our worth to the emotion we feel falls short the moment we remember Jesus Christ feeling all of our own pain and suffering. He felt it all. And it didn’t make him unworthy to feel any of it. It made him all the more human and compassionate to our mortal experience.
This practice of acceptance could be summed up in the Christian principles of grace, forgiveness, and love. Yet it’s interesting how the word acceptance can be such a trigger word to the judge-mental part of ourself.
Acceptance?!?!?!?! Why no! I can’t accept this thought, behavior, emotion, experience, person, trial, etc. I must condemn it! To accept it would mean I support it or agree or think nothing is wrong. To accept means that there isn’t a punishment and there must be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! Someone has to pay the price! Someone must be accountable! To accept means giving in! Being walked all over! Taken advantage of. Not speaking up.
The irony, is that resistance is what causes these fears.
Acceptance, as taught in Buddhism, is simply the opposite of resistance. Instead of closing, it’s staying open. Instead of closing off to love, it’s staying open to love.
To borrow from our last book review, Original Grace, these fears all stem from the mindset of Original Sin, which asks the question, What is deserved? When we are steeped in this Law of Moses mindset, we can’t possibly justify acceptance that we don’t feel is deserved. But Christ teaches a higher way. His justice of Original Grace asks the question, “what is needed?”.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we have to turn a bad thing into a good thing. It simply means we are going to stop fighting and resisting so we can navigate the situation from a peaceful place. This is what is needed. This is what we really want. We want to feel peace and have access to our mind and heart so we can hear God’s voice and we can use our agency to choose well. We don’t have access to that when we are in a state of resisting and fighting and condemning. We have closed off.
Just as the Lord told me this past summer, “You will suffer less if you accept the situation.”
The miracle acceptance brings to me, is that it immediately decreases the emotional charge. Our emotions are sort of like water coming through a garden hose. We were designed to experience an entire spectrum of emotions which flow through our body. But the moment I close off and resist it’s like clamping the water hose. The pressure immediately intensifies and keeps building in pressure. It gets more and more uncomfortable and painful. But if I can remove the clamp and open back up, the emotion can now flow through and the pressure equalizes.
If I feel anger and then judge myself for feeling anger, and resist the anger, and close off or distract myself from the anger, it’s going to build in pressure. Perhaps it builds up to a level 10 in pressure. But, if I accept the anger, and receive it, if I tell myself it is okay for me to feel anger, it opens the flow and immediately it might take the emotional charge of anger down to a 5. Going from a 10 to a 5 is a major difference in how something feels, and it is all due to my resistance or acceptance. If I really stay with this practice of acceptance then I can let the anger flow through me and fully feel it and eventually the 5 decreases even more until it’s no longer there. All because I stayed open and accepted the experience. Think of all the brain space I gain, just by having the charge decrease. If I’m maxed out at a level 10 in my resistance, I don’t have as much access to my mind and heart. But if I can decrease the charge even by degrees, each degree I decrease in intensity gives me back more access to an open mind and heart so I can choose a better response.
It’s stunning to see how much of life I actively want to resists and reject. This is teaching me a new way that feels so much better in my body and creates so much more peace in my relationships.
I’m so grateful to Tara Brach for writing this amazing book. The stories she shares in this book are phenomenal and it has certainly contributed to helping me heal. I love it when I read a book hoping it will help me with one situation and it ends up giving me tools to help my entire life. I highly highly recommend, Radical Acceptance.
You are a creator, now go Co Create something great.