If you are a "spiritual" person, you probably are familiar with the common thought/practice of "accepting what is." "Accepting what is" can seem like you are supposed to say "yes" to everything. I was really confused by this for a long time. It caused me to try to "accept" things that are clearly NOT ok. Like behavior from men that made me uncomfortable, underlying tension or drama between friends and even dysfunctional behavior in myself. I think the misunderstanding comes when we think "acceptance" means that how we feel about things don't matter and that "acceptance of what is" is the same as "liking what is". There is a subtle but life changing distinction between the two. Lets do some unpacking, shall we?
I see this in two parts. The application of acceptance to the outside world and the application of acceptance to our inner world.. What I have learned is that "accepting what is" has more to do with our INTERNAL state than our external circumstances. For example, If you are in a conversation with a person, and they are acting in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, it is the UNCOMFORTABLE you want to accept, NOT necessarily the behavior of the person you are talking with. Being accepting does not mean accepting things that your heart and gut are telling you is not ok with you. Being accepting starts at HOME. If you apply acceptance of what is inside first, you might find yourself behaving very differently and feeling more at peace with yourself and your actions. This is one aspect of what "being in alignment" means. If you are consistently going against your inner guidance in favor of trying to accept/approve of everything outside yourself first, you will likely feel confused, anxious and disconnected. You might also find yourself having to put a lot energy into rationalizing and justifying. Here is kind of an odd example, but I think it fits.
I was driving my car a few month ago, about to make a left turn on a busy intersection near griffith park, when I saw a juvenile skunk trying to cross the road one car ahead of me. My first thought was "oh no! It's going to get hit and there is nothing I can do about it!" I starting rationalizing. "Nature is like that and I might be risking myself.. and beside, how the heck am I supposed to help a skunk across a busy road??" Luckily, my gut feeling said "hell no I am not going to just keep driving when I can at least TRY and help this little guy". So I pulled into the left turning lane and put my blinkers on. By then he was on the median trying to get to the park on the other side. In full speed traffic, plastic bag in hand, I was able to stop the cars and shoo him across. Whew! Had I "accepted" that the skunk was going to get hit, instead of accepting that my gut was screaming at me to HELP THE FREAKIN SKUNK, the little guy might have been another casualty by the side of the road.
I want to dive into how acceptance translates to our outer realities in another blog, but for now, try this. The next time you find yourself rationalizing or making excuses, ask yourself; "How do I FEEL right now?" or "what does my heart say about this?". The hardest thing sometimes can be to accept our internal discomfort or "NO". The funny thing is, saying YES to your inner "no" has a magical power to put you right into real acceptance. Acceptance based on what is real, what is present and what is true. And there is nothing more blissful than that.
as always, we are all in this together!