The goal is to feel your feelings, while also accepting the situation as it is. Remember, we don’t have to like it or want it to be happening. But we can choose to accept it, instead of resisting, which ultimately does not work and only depletes your energy and making you more miserable than you were initially.
It’s basically like saying, “okay, this is the situation. And this is how I feel about it. And now can I just relax and let it be here...just for now?”
Instead of focusing on aspects you don’t like, ones that bother you, you can choose to practice radical acceptance, which makes way for problem-solving. Instead of giving all that energy to the emotions associated with your resistance towards the situation, you can switch gears and put that energy into planning mode instead.
So, how do we do it?
Tune in to your thoughts, asking, “what are my thoughts saying about this?” If they are upsetting or uncomfortable, try putting a bit of distance between you and the thoughts. A simple ACT strategy that loosens the mind’s grip on accepting every thought we have as fact is to say to yourself (internally – or externally, if you like), “I’m having the thought that….”.
There is also an ACT Choice Point exercise that I’ve found to be so helpful in challenging conditioned responses. I ask, “Does allowing myself to really buy in to this thought or belief, even if I truly think it is true, take me towards the experience I ideally want to have or away from it? Do I really want to buy into the story that’s playing in my mind or do I want to challenge it? Can I reframe this or see a different perspective?”
I have used expressive journaling for many years and 3 years ago made it a regular and ongoing practice. It is so helpful in exploring such aspects of life as core beliefs, conditioned responses, and associated behaviors. I’ve been able to notice patterns and make more conscious choices based on them. It is a perfect way to reflect back on our reactions and learn what we could potentially do differently next time.
A helpful philosophy to keep in mind related to practicing radical acceptance is this: “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Choosing to practice acceptance, in the moment, even in situations we do not like, essentially removes the suffering.
There are going to be times when we react in an unconscious, habitual manner, rather than responding from a tuned-in, conscious place. But the important thing in the end is this: did you take a bit of time to process and learn whatever lesson was attached to the experience in order to be able to learn and grow from it? Don’t worry, if you feel like you didn’t handle a challenging situation as well as you would have liked, there’s always next time 😊
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Learn more about Bobbi Beuree, Halifax-based Coach + Facilitator
Bobbi Beuree, Certified CAN Coach + Facilitator is located Nova Scotia and provides interactive 1:1 coaching services, as well as group coaching events.