Sunday, 25 January 2015

Why is acceptance so important?

What is the saying?  It takes much more energy to resist than it does to persist?  Whenever we try to swim against the current, we have to exert far more energy than going with the flow and it becomes very tiring.  For many of us, learning how to be mindful of this would make life a whole lot easier. This does not mean giving up, losing hope or compromising.  It simply means being willing to see things as they are rather than fight and rail against reality.

A friend of mine used to say: "It is what it is."  At first, I thought it was some cute cliche.  Then, the more she said it to apply to elements of her life and to mine, the more I began to realize that there were many things in my world that I would rather block, minimize, obsess about or try to undo...all symptoms of this nasty need to control the uncontrollable.  This difficulty in accepting what is can apply to anything...having to accept that you are depressed, coming to terms with the fact that your son has ADD, needing to take medication, having a mother who cannot love you the way you want to be loved, facing an addiction or dealing with some harsh life event that you were not prepared for and did not ask for. As one client in such a bind said, "When you accept it, you get a foothold and can climb out.  You really know what the problem is that you are facing and you can address it".  How true, for if you are unwilling to name and identify the problem, how can you begin to find solutions? For some people, accepting their situation finally brings them to therapy.  They realize that "it is what it is" and are now ready to find ways to cope with that reality and move forward with their lives.  For others, acceptance is found once they begin the therapeutic process, and becomes the first therapeutic objective because without it, no significant progress can be made.

Jeff  Foster, a teacher, poet, spiritualist, self examined depressive talks perhaps more eloquently than anybody about what this process of acceptance is about.  He has a Facebook page and has written the most beautiful book entitled "Falling In Love With Where You Are".  He speaks in seminars about how after years of exploring many psychological avenues and various spiritual paths to try to deal with his depression, his final conclusion was that acceptance is the ultimate cure.  Take a look at his work.  At the young age of 31, he is old beyond his chronological years and quite the wise one!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

How do I stop feeling sorry for myself?

Everybody feels sorry for themselves sometimes.  It's normal to go there now and again.  Problems arise though (as they do with all negative emotions) when you get stuck and those internal voices keep playing over and over like a broken record.  Then it is time to stop, tell yourself, "This isn't working for me!" and make a change.

The best advice I ever got from a mentor of mine about self pity was this: "It's O.K. to feel sorry for yourself.  Everybody does.  If you are going to have a pity party, though, for God's sake, put a time limit on it!"

That was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got.  Of course, it makes sense.  Fighting emotions...feeling guilty...telling yourself to snap out of it...none of that works.  Besides, problems only emerge when you end up stewing in your own juices.  So, if you are feeling sorry for yourself, let yourself cry, kick, scream, mope, stay in your sweats, hide out at home, refuse to answer the phone, watch Netflix, eat chocolate, etc., whatever is your comfort!  However, once you have indulged for a period of time, promise yourself that by such and such a time, you are going to stop the drama, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get moving... whether that's going out for a walk, meeting a friend, cleaning out that closet or getting to the gym.

It never works to try to ignore or push away negative emotions.  You can do them up big.  Just put a time limit on them!