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Accepting Versus Resisting – Power Tool (2)


This is a continuation of my previous post on “Accepting versus Resisting” what we can not change. It’s a great empowering tool to help you cope with your difficult life situations.

Topic 3. Accepting vs. Resisting the SELF

 It’s true that we can do a lot to steer our life course and where we land. Still, we are deprived of choice in specific matters. Did you have a choice in being born a male or female? Or even in having the physical features you possess? We often see some individuals bending backwards trying hard to implement major changes on their looks. Sometimes it is doable, but comes to fruition only with great tolls. Self-acceptance refers to accepting one self with all its flaws (ranging from temperament, to genetic make-up, to who we truly are). When that is done, these flaws will start to diminish. We stop paying attention to them; hence, negative emotions would cease to surface. Nobody is perfect that’s for sure.

 For instance, one might have a specific health concern. The label “sick” maybe too distressing to acknowledge, so one may start whining and complaining about that health concern as if “resisting” the idea will make it vanish. Only through “accepting” that condition and trying to surpass it will one cope better. Alternatively, one may ignore the whole “being sick” idea (another form of resistance). What happens is that one’s health condition gets exacerbated when left untreated. The more we embrace all parts of our being, the better we’ll feel about ourselves and the more we grow. When we resist having limitations (be it inborn or accrued over time), we find ourselves pushed too far into a deep abyss of exhaustion. We are far better off if we embrace the positive and let go of the negative. It has been said, “If life hands you lemon, make lemonade”. Work with what you’ve got. Capitalize on your strengths; you’ll find plenty to work with. Improve what you can, but don’t fall into frustration at deadlocks.

Reflection and Application

 1. Think about those aspects that you don’t appreciate about yourself?

 2. Which of these can you change?

 3. Which of these are impractical / impossible to change?

 4. List at least five empowering reasons for accepting (rather than resisting) those aspects you cannot change.   

Topic 4. Accepting vs. Resisting OTHERS

 Relationships with other people are vital in our progress along life’s path. Close others can be our support system as we thrive and in times of misery. In some instances, these close others become our source of distress. It is very easy to eliminate an “emotional vampire” (i.e. someone who drains your energy) if s/he were not really meaningful in your life, or imposed on you. But we occasionally fall into the trap of trying to change others to better fit our expectations. We forget that it is not easy to change someone else; and that it is much easier to change how we react to another’s behavior.

 For instance, you become upset at how your parent, your sibling, or your spouse constantly behaves. You start giving him/her all sorts of hints; and at times become just blatant and criticize at no avail. Truth is, your repeated attempts may create opposition and defensiveness; and the cycle of conflict escalates. The more you persist, the more they become stubborn and resist your attempts. Asses how you would feel if someone tried to change you? You probably would get hurt and create walls of protection. Surely, we cannot dispense with some people in our lives. We are better off at considering the whole package. “Accepting” these people for what they are and focusing on their assets generates far better interaction processes. You can pinpoint how you feel about it, but it is their choice to rectify or not.

Reflection and Application

 1. Think about those people who are indispensable in your life. Is there anyone of them in particular that you find difficulty tolerating / accommodating to?

 2. If you answered “No”, you’re blessed. Count more blessings.

 3. If you answered “Yes”,

   a) List that person’s good qualities. Find as many as you can.

   b) Can you accept that person with all his/her flows now?

   c) While keeping his/her good qualities in the spot light, can you take that    person’s behavior humorously for the coming week? See if all your interactions get lighter

Topic 5. Accepting vs. Resisting the HURT

 As wonderful as it is, life can subject us to a variety of hurtful experiences. We can be targets to injustice, deceit, disappointments, insults, or misfortunes. It might give us the least we expect or deserve. These deleterious ordeals could range from painful childhood experiences, to experiencing infidelity in a relationship, to getting a demotion on the job, or other negative life situations.  We unintentionally plunge into an emotional tail spin and experience feelings of anger, bitterness, or vengeance. The more we ruminate over the hurt, the more we prolong our distress and get swallowed up by our own distress. Sometimes, the more we try to save face or seek revenge, the more we get stuck at the mishap. We can surely get our chin high somewhere else. “Whatever you focus on expands” so it’s been said. Why feed the turmoil inside?

 If our negative emotions include another person, then forgive. So much has been said about the positive effects of forgiveness even if unsolicited. Forgiveness refers to accepting what had happened and deciding to let go of attempts to seek revenge. When we keep our resentment contained within us, we are keeping inside negative energy which feeds the suffering. Our pain, then, was inevitable. It’s our suffering that’s optional. The past hurt when fed can cloud our vision of the present or the future; and can deprive us of inner peace.

 If our emotions involved a specific situation we were are still struggling with, sometimes it is best to just let go. Fight no more. Maya Angelou once said: At fifteen, life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.We may be caught up in fighting too hard to eliminate the hurt caused by our life situations (we resist). We yearn to effect change when we can simply seek satisfaction elsewhere. Consider always: what’s the opportunity for me in there? Where else can I derive joy? It maybe too hard to extract yourself from some hurtful situation, but at least we can plan something to move gradually away from it. When no plan works, you can do the best you can to work within the confinements of that situation. Surely if you think hard enough, you can focus your thoughts on different aspects to compensate for your dissatisfaction. Transform the distress into motivation to excel at something else; move in a different direction.

Reflection and Application

 1. Think of a specific life situation that has stirred your emotions negatively.

 2. Are you willing to accept that it took place in the past and let go, or would you want to remain resisting that it happened?

Here’s a technique that can help you heal the hurt: Find the time to undergo a process of emotional healing. You may need an hour, 2, or even 3 hours to finish this exercise. Write about the distressing situation while focusing on how it made you feel. Include all the things that were not said and remain in your throat. Pour in all your emotions, your hurt, and your disappointment about it. Don’t leave anything out. If the hurt was caused by another person, address your writing to him/her. You’ll experience agitation as you do that. Get in touch with it. Name the emotions you are experiencing and reflect on how these were affecting your previous actions. When you’re done, burn that letter. As you watch those flames glow tell yourself: ‘This is one episode that is out of my system now. I won’t let it bother me anymore. It’s gone; finished. I will be indifferent to it from now on. It’s in the past; folded well. Now, I feel great, refreshed, and will resume a happier life. 

Conclusion

  “Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices ~ Dr. Paul Tournier. We do need to be resilient in face of adversity. It serves us well to weigh the costs of fighting. It serves us well to know where we stand before moving forward. Much of what colors our perceptions is a creation of our own minds. Will you keep feeding your mind with handicapping thoughts, or will you empower yourself by opening up to healthier possibilities to grow? Your “call”…..

 

Accepting vs. Resisting (Power Tool) -(1)


I have earlier written a short post on “Moving Forward” through accepting or resisting our life situations. I found it an empowering tool to use in the coaching process. I, therefore, decided to elaborate on it and submit it as a “Power Tool” (part of my certification process in coaching). It is somewhat lengthy, so I will post it on two occasions for an easier read. Enjoy and empower yourselves in those areas where you can do little to effect positive change:

Topic 1.  How do we deal with difficult life circumstances? 

What We Resist, Persists, Accept, And It Just Dissolves” ~ Carl Jung

 Many of us have a “fighter spirit” and we succeed in assuming control over many of our life circumstances. We get that promotion after working hard enough. We adopt a new life-style and are glad to have that ideal self image we always aspired.  We are repeatedly encouraged to move forward and celebrate achieving our goals. Sadly, often times, we face specific life situations whereby “change” is extremely difficult, very costly, or sometimes practically impossible. For instance, how is it best to cope with the misfortune of being born with a physical handicap? Or in trying to survive the commitment to a partner who’s much loved, but has difficult personality characteristics beyond control? Consider someone else having to tolerate a newly assigned arrogant supervisor on the job because no better alternative can do at the time? In such thorny situations, one is faced with either of two options: accepting versus resisting those situations. 

 According to Merriam- Webster Dictionary, the verb accept is defined as “to endure without protest or reaction; to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable; and to recognize as true”. Applied to our difficult life experiences, “accepting” refers to the realization that we can not change what is disliked or that which is perceived as a psychological threat. We stop our behavioral and mental attempts to change, deny, or oppose it; and go with the flow. The Webster dictionary, also, defines the verb resist as “to exert oneself so as to counteract or defeat”. It entails fighting, pushing back and putting in some energy to change what currently exists. Applied to difficult life situations, mentally “resisting” a situation involves imagining over and over again what should be the case, the better scenario, and efforts to resolve difficult situations one way or another. Through out our lives, we either resort to “accepting” or “resisting” as coping strategies to handle many of our arising concerns; be it on personal or professional levels. Let’s reflect for a moment:

Reflection and Application

 1. Identify the areas in your life that you have grown to accept on both your:

    a. Personal level

    b. Professional level

 2. Identify the areas in your life that you have resisted and succeeded; and others you have resisted and could not change on both your:

    a. Personal level

    b. Professional level

Topic 2. Compared to “resisting”, why is it that “accepting” the healthier coping mechanism in difficult life circumstances?

 “What can’t be cured must be endured” ~ Robert Burton proposed it wisely. The idea of “accepting” is prominent in Eastern philosophy and in different religions like Christianity and Islam. Life subjects us to its own terms. In extreme scenarios, it puts us under different losses, vagaries of fate, vicissitude of evil, illness, traumas, aging, and the inevitable idea of eventually facing death. “Accepting” things that already happened in the past or those that are foreseeable is comforting. We can’t undo the past; what’s done is done. We certainly can do a lot about whatever future remains even under the most difficult circumstances. When we accept things as they are, we become open to new possibilities; to areas beyond our distress. We stop feeding adversity with energy. Our mind is freed to finding solutions; and that energy is directed in a more empowering manner. The sooner we do that, the better. Sometimes, we need to learn to befriend our “tough calls” (come to terms with them). Only then are we able to overcome whatever set-backs we face. 

“Resisting” can be viewed in a positive light in many situations. It is a driving force to do the best we can; to go beyond our comfort zones; to change to the better. What we need, however, is to discern between this type of resisting and that which is futile. “Resisting” can take the form of denial, avoidance, or even rumination over negative feelings (e.g. sorrow, guilt, injustice, etc….). It is these negative experiences that sometimes exacerbate our life situations; and not always those situations per se. Harboring bitterness, for instance, renders us eventually in an unpleasant place or state. Similarly, if we keep on brushing our negative feelings under the carpet by denying or avoiding these, they’ll creep back up again to get us. It is no wonder, then that in psychotherapy, emotional healing involves “accepting” past ordeals; as they truly were (not as one wished them to be). Accepting rather than avoiding painful emotions, in fact, alleviates the suffering. And this is how the individual eventually moves to a healthier form of functioning. “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery” ~ Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

Reflection and Application

 1. Have a look at the areas you identified earlier. Compare the feelings that arise as you contemplate accepting or resisting each. Which do you find more empowering?

 2. List the ramifications of resisting on your actions, your emotions, and your future vision.

 Stay tuned for the follow post on accepting the self, others, and our hurt in more details.

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