Pain can cause us to deny what is happening or hold onto it for too long. Maybe your partner cheated on you or you lost your wallet. Life constantly challenges us, and there are millions of situations that can hurt us.
So how do we deal with these situations? We can fight them and get angry, or we can get extremely sad. Another response is to question “why did this happen to me?” Some people also choose to avoid the situation and pretend nothing is happening.
But all of these responses don’t truly help us feel better or move on.
What’s the best answer, then?
Acceptance is one of the most important aspects of mindfulness, and a practice that is not only promoted by monks but psychologists as well.
When you accept a situation, you avoid amplifying your pain. Acceptance means simply acknowledging your thoughts and your experiences rather than judging it as good or bad.
How to Practice Acceptance
When we are in any situation, one of our first tendencies as humans is to label. We want to label everything as good or bad. When we go out for lunch, we make a judgment about the food, the ambience, the service, and the company. Before bed, we label our day as good or bad. We label our outfits as good or bad. We label our haircut as good or bad. We even label friendships as good or bad. We are constantly labeling: good or bad.
Acceptance, on the other hand, involves letting go of labels. Letting go of judgment. Just acknowledge what is.
Sometimes, people don’t like the term “acceptance”. It makes them feel that you have to be okay with everything that happens, even if it is hurtful or unjust, or that you can’t do anything to improve the situation. That’s not true at all!
The term “acceptance” simply means “acknowledge”. You acknowledge, without labels. When you acknowledge something, you notice it and experience it. Then, if you think you need to take action, you can do that.
So if someone hurts you, acceptance does not mean you have to be okay with it and come back for more. Acceptance simply means you acknowledge that this person did something to you, and you felt hurt. It can also mean acknowledging that you want to set some boundaries in this relationship.
When you accept something, you don’t waste time and energy complaining, blaming, or criticizing. Rather, when you accept, you have the power to actually find a solution. You can acknowledge what went wrong and what the best way to move forward is. Then you can take that action without being emotionally charged.
The beauty of acceptance is that when you acknowledge a painful situation without any labels, it is a lot easier to let go.
For example, if your partner cheats on you, rather than blaming or criticizing or complaining, you acknowledge the facts. Someone you trusted immensely hurt you.
By accepting this and avoiding labels, you remove the emotional charge of anger or pain. Now you can think logically.
Are you okay with it? Do you want to give them another chance?
Whatever you choose, yes or no, acceptance gives you the power to let go of the negative emotions from this experience. It gives you the power to move on.
Remember, learning to practice acceptance is the gateway to more peace. When you accept, you can let go of the heavy baggage that pain, hurt, blame, criticism, and complaints bring.