One of the basic universal teachings in almost all spiritual and esoteric traditions is learning the practice of acceptance. Acceptance is the allowing (and even celebrating) a person or situation precisely as it is, without trying to change it in any way. It’s quite a challenging practice when you actually begin applying it to people and situations that you find unacceptable. But that’s precisely the point. It’s easy to accept good things. It’s not so easy to accept the stuff we don’t like.
Through the practice of acceptance, you are able to see all the places that you are not in acceptance. You try to be in acceptance, and you begin to notice that in lots and lots of situations, you’re not. You just can’t. (This is where the gold is!) In the contrast, in those places you cannot accept, you are able to see just how much you try to control or affect your surroundings and why. (Hint: it’s always fear).
It goes something like this. Imagine that you’ve run into someone you know, and don’t like. You notice yourself tense up within. You notice how you’re anticipating something unpleasant and bracing yourself for what’s about to happen. There’s dislike, but underneath the dislike is a vague sort of anxiety. And so this is the perfect opportunity to engage this practice. You acknowledge your feelings and then you go inward:
I don’t like this xyz quality about this person. (Do one quality at a time).
Why does it bother me so much?
Is this a quality that I have?
Can I think of at least one scenario where I’ve displayed this quality? At least once?
Is this a quality that I’d never allow myself to have? Why not?
What is my relationship to this quality? Why?
Where did I develop this relationship to this quality?
Who else do I know that has this quality?
And you can go further and further inward with this line of inquiry… If you stay with this long enough, and are both curious enough and honest enough, you will unearth some really interesting things. What you find will lead to many many ah-ha moments.
So in general, when you find yourself not in acceptance, you ask: What is it, in this person, in this situation, in this moment that isn’t acceptable and why. And you go as far inward as you wish.
And then, after you’ve had about ten ah-ha moments with this, the next steps are learning how to allow the person, the situation, the moment to be exactly what it is, and to find why it’s good that it is so.
Why is this objectively bad thing, actually a good thing? Don’t silver line it, it’s not about finding a speck of good in something bad. It’s actually turning the whole thing into a good.
The mind really really hates this part of the practice. Every time I ask people to do this second part they tell me immediately that there is absolutely positively nothing good about this person/situation/moment.
I hear you (all of you!) but that’s the point.
This practice of acceptance is one of the tools of self-discovery and transformation of consciousness. Using this practice you come to find all the hidden judgments and beliefs that you’re carrying around in your subconscious. You can find a bunch of ego structures and a bunch of shadow elements. It’s really a very powerful tool.
And as you bring those things up to awareness, you have the power to change them, if you wish. If you choose to change them and let them go, you become more and more loving and accepting in a way that you never imagined.
The practice of acceptance is also a great tool for retraining the mind to a more allowing and less controlling pattern of thinking. There is actually very little that is within your control. Wanting to control everything comes from fear – it’s a lack of trust and faith in the universe. It’s a misunderstanding of cosmic paradigms, when you believe that only good things should happen, and you put all your effort and energy into trying to control outcomes. If you live life trying to control everything, you suffer. (It’s actually your resistance to what’s happening that is causing the most suffering). If you can learn to live in a more allowing and accepting state of mind, you suffer a lot less.
Trust me on this.