Could acceptance be your path to health and happiness?
There is so much I could say about acceptance as it can be of benefit in so many areas of our lives, from health conditions, relationships, our past experiences, jobs and pretty much any situation that we feel we do not have control of, even a pandemic for example!
Then on top of that there is self-acceptance, being at peace and without judgement with who we are, as so often our lack of acceptance is driven by our own expectations of not just others but ourselves. When we are able to accept how we are at any one time, then we are also much more likely to feel acceptance of others too.
When can we benefit from acceptance?
The easiest and most general answer would be when we are experiencing the opposite of acceptance, which would be discomfort or inner conflict.
There are so many ways that we all experience feelings of discomfort whatever quality of life we have, so we can all benefit from learning the skills of acceptance.
Physical pain and illness, past memories, the behaviour of others, upsetting situations such as loss and grief, frustration, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, in fact any unpleasant physical or emotional feeling tends to trigger a non-accepting response.
The common denominator being that these are feelings that we tend to want rid of, to move away from, to try to stop happening, or often in the case of chronic illness and pain: to fight against.
What causes our discomfort?
The situations that create these feelings trigger our survival response (Sympathetic Nervous System - SNS) as they are generated from our brains referencing a past situation that comes with a warning message.
24/7 our brains are filtering all information coming in from our senses and saying “When have I been here before, and what could be wrong with it?” It is this negative filter that keeps us safe but also creates our negativity bias and therefore these unpleasant feelings.
As pleasure seeking beings we are therefore uncomfortable with this discomfort, so the innate response is to want for it to stop, further triggering and amplifying our discomfort and SNS response.
We end up in a vicious cycle that we will remain in unless we change something.
Change one thing and everything changes
As I specialise in helping people struggling with emotional and physical health conditions, including chronic pain, many of my clients have experiences of past trauma through their early years, within relationships, or through accident and injury. I am therefore very familiar with resistance to even the word acceptance, after all what they are experiencing is extremely unpleasant and has invariably impacted on many if not all areas of their lives.
How can you just accept that?
Acceptance is not saying what has happened was OK, it is not about forgiveness or denial, or believing that it will always be this way. It is not saying that you won’t do anything or everything in your power to change it.
Acceptance is changing it.
Acceptance is stepping outside of fear, judgement and trauma, back into the bare facts of this moment, right here today.
Acceptance takes you out of your defence/survival response and back to a place of balance. It reconnects you to the present moment, a place where you are not pressing those triggers and trying to control things that have gone before or catastrophizing and imagining future scenarios that may never actually happen.
Acceptance is taking back control of the only thing that we can control, ourselves!
"It is not the situation that is the problem, but the way that we deal with it that counts."
I say this so often, because it is true.
The truth is that we all react uniquely to every situation and there are options to that unique response. When you learn to remain in your place of balance through the many inbuilt tools available to you then you can access a place of acceptance.
There are so many ways that this can happen, but the basis for it all is to switch from your sympathetic nervous system to your parasympathetic nervous system. This will switch off the defensive mind that is feeding a lot of your discomfort.
7 Top tips for harnessing acceptance by accessing the parasympathetic system
- If in doubt breathe out: The long slow out breath is the quickest way to instantly trigger the PNS. Regular breathe work will help enormously in keeping you in a calm and rational state. (you can access a free breath work download at alexawarner.co.uk/breath-download
- Mind your language: Be aware of the things you are saying to yourself about yourself and others, be kind and compassionate as if you are talking to someone you care deeply about.
- Gratitude: Each moment of feeling grateful will trigger your PNS and improve your digestion and this is otherwise known as our rest and digest state. Take a moment several times a day to consider what you are grateful for.
- Tell a new story: When you find yourself embroiled in stories (otherwise known as thoughts) that feed your discomfort, tell yourself a kinder more comfortable one.
- Keep a positivity journal: Every exercise will give you the opportunity to see the good that already exists in yourself and in your life. You can find out more about this with some journal ideas and a video to inspire you at alexawarner.co.uk/positivity-journaling
- Helicopter perspective: Step outside of yourself, look down on the situation and see it for how it is, a great way to see others perspectives and to see clearly how you are reacting to this situation.
- Practice mindfulness: mindfulness is a practice, it is not as if we learn it and we will be like that always, it is about feeling familiar with the experience of being aware of this moment, whether through formal meditation practice or through an acquired skilled of non-judgemental present moment self-awareness.
Extra help to make it happen
If you recognise that you could benefit from some further guidance to ensure that you can break free from your pain and achieve your optimal level of health and happiness than here are some options:
- I run a 12 week programme that will enable you to reclaim all aspects of your emotional and physical health, it is called Rebalance. There are various options from self-study to bespoke one to one sessions, you can find out more at alexawarner.co.uk/rebalance-group
- To practice independently and explore more of the exercises available to support daily healthfulness then my Meditation Mindfulness & More Course could be just what you need: I will guide you through 3 lessons a week for 6 weeks (or take it at your own pace) with a library of mediation recordings and some quick hacks for maintaining a calm and confident state. All details can be found at alexawarner.co.uk/meditation-course
- If you are not sure which way to go and you would like to talk personally about how you can achieve your health, happiness and success potential then you can contact me and book a call at alexawarner.co.uk/contact.