If acceptance were as easy as saying, “I accept this,” then we’d have a lot less problems in life. Acceptance doesn’t always come because we want it to. The truth is, we have a natural instinct to resist anything that makes us uncomfortable and is painful.
The resistance often makes whatever we’re fighting against fight us back that much harder, but it takes time to recondition ourselves from a lifetime of reacting to discomfort and suffering this way.
The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is “Life is suffering.” It reads as a negative sentiment at first, but is quite liberating once there is a deep understanding of what the Buddha meant.
We will all suffer in life. We will all feel pain. Unhappiness is rooted in the attachment to comfort. Happiness is found when we accept life’s sufferings and let go of our resistance to discomfort and pain.
How often have painful events happened in our lives that bore eventual happy outcomes. A messy divorce leads to meeting a much better partner. A period of unemployment is followed by an even better job than the one you lost. It’s in those times of uncertainty and pain when we find it difficult to accept what’s happened. We resist, and we end up suffering far more in our resistance than in the original painful event itself.
But acceptance of that which causes us pain is not easy. And it takes time. And like everything else in life, it takes practice. Even accepting there’s something to accept can be difficult. So give yourself time to get there. Feel your pain. Be upset. Get angry. Allow all the emotions pass that need to pass and when you get to acceptance, recognize it. Take note of how you got there and the emotions you went through so that the next time, you’ll be better able to accept your process of coping. That’s step one.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we’re all okay every time we get hurt. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel or react. It simply means we accept all that comes with it, including the negative emotions of pain.