During the past week I have been involved in several discussions that touched on the idea of acceptance. We have looked at this idea here before, but today we will continue our investigation of what acceptance means.
Accepting does not mean liking
Many times when the idea of acceptance comes up it gets confused with the idea of liking something. In other words, if you accept something that means you like it. These two ideas are not linked. You can accept something but you do not have to like it.
I think the best example of this idea comes from Eckhart Tolle. During the series of videos that he made with Oprah Winfrey he used the example of finding yourself knee deep in mud.
That example assumes that all of a sudden we find ourself knee deep in mud. As we look down at the mud we don’t like the fact that we are stuck in it. However, we cannot ignore that we are stuck in the mud.
If we do not accept that we are stuck in the mud we will not take the appropriate actions to get out of the mud. It would be nice to fly out of the mud, but chances are that we cannot do that.
No, we must accept that we are knee deep in mud and start to take the appropriate actions to get out. We do not like that we are stuck in the mud, but liking or not liking has no bearing on the situation. We are stuck in the mud and until we accept the fact that we are stuck we will not make any progress at getting ourselves unstuck.
Accepting does not mean agreeing
Agreeing with something is similar to liking. For example, we may be in a situation at our job where we have to do something with which we do not agree. Usually it is because we differ with our boss about that situation.
Assuming that our boss is not asking us to do something that is illegal, we must accept what the boss wants us to do even though we do not agree with it.
An example of this from my personal experience was when my boss wanted me to run a project that would install a new piece of computer equipment. I disagreed with the way he wanted to run the project.
As the project floundered it became clear that this particular piece of equipment was not the correct choice. On occasion I would make my disagreements known to my boss, but I always accepted that I had to do the best I could with the project until he also realized that we were wasting our effort.
In this example I disagreed with what I had to do, but I accepted that I had to do it. Understanding the difference between these two concepts helped me to maintain control of myself. I knew that by accepting the situation rather than fighting it I would be in control of myself and see the best answer when it appeared. My disagreement with my boss was a side issue that I did not waste much time on.
Accepting is painful except for the alternative
Many times it can be painful to accept the situation. However, it can be even more painful when we do not accept the situation.
In our example of being knee deep in mud, we might try to run out of the mud. When we are not accepting of a situation we do things like that. We try to run out of the mud when we should be walking slowly and carefully. Running may cause us to fall and twist an ankle. Or worse.
Accepting that we are stuck in the mud may be very embarrassing. We may not want to admit it to ourself, much less anybody else. After all, how could such a smart person get themselves into such a predicament?
This is what is called denial. We know that we are stuck in the mud. We cannot bring ourselves to admit that we are. We are denying that we are stuck in the mud.
This is a silly way to act. We know that we are stuck in the mud. Anyone who looks at us can also tell that we are stuck in the mud. False self is denying that we are stuck. Remember, false self does not want to look at any possible imperfections that it may have. Denial always comes from false self.
In our post entitled “Judge Not” we took a look at why false self does not like to admit it is in error. Not wanting to admit error is also denial. All of these come from false self attachments. And as we have also discussed, false self attachments are painful.
The logical steps
Let’s follow the logic of the ideas we have put forth here today. When we are not accepting of something we are in denial of it. When we are in denial we are acting from false self. All false self behavior is based on attachments. False self attachments are always painful.
Therefore when we are not accepting we are in pain. Please think about this the next time you encounter a situation that you do not like. We do not have to like the situation. We have to learn to accept the situation. We will be in pain until we learn that acceptance.
That is all for today. Do you have any situations that you have had a problem accepting? Do you have an example of a situation that you initially resisted and then accepted? Please post these as comments and share your experience with our readers.
Until tomorrow –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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