The key role of acceptance

One of my favourite sayings from the AA Big Book says  :

Acceptance is the key to all my problems to day.

I am thinking and reading about acceptance a great deal a the moment, most especially due to reading a book on the connection between feelings and over eating.  One of my favourite quotes from the book I am reading is :

The solution is in the problem

How many times do we try to run away from our problems?   We think if the difficult situation or thought or feeling could just be forgotten or ceased to exist we would have the solution to all of our pain.  But real life just doesn’t work like this.  The way out is through facing up to our feelings and difficulties and true emotional health lies in an acceptance of our feelings (even the painful ones).

Many of us don’t want to hear that, we think accepting something means we are condoning it or will suffer more from not putting up a necessary fight, but the truth is the more we see things as they really are and feel the consequences, the more likely we are to be able to take action for self care.  And when our reactions no longer come out of deeply resistant over reaction we will end up not sabotaging our lives as much as we do when we have knee jerk reactions to triggers and painful reactions or feelings.

Feeling our feelings is not always easy.  For many of us raised in low nurturance houses where there was little in the way of emotional connection or intelligence we may have not been helped to know what our true feelings are.  It takes some work to recognise what they are, what other feelings can underlie certain feelings such as anger and sadness.

There is a certain power in being able to name our feelings.  For those of us who have problems in recognising our feelings with words, our first entry point into understanding of our feelings is to become mindful of bodily reactions to certain situations.  Tension in our jaw, might be anger, pain and breathlessness around our heart, may be sadness and grief.  A clenching in our belly may be fear.  Once we can recognise and name the feeling we are in a better situation to be able to do something constructive with this feeling.

For those of us recovering our relationship to our feelings and reactions, it is a good exercise to become aware of the relationship between our thoughts and our feelings.  Often we can have a feeling and then a thought follows which magnifies or intensifies the feeling,  thoughts such as “this is just too much to bear”,  “I’ll never get through this”. “this is just too painful”.

I noticed this most particularly in March this year when I went for the needle biopsy to confirm the presence of breast cancer.  As they were struggling to insert the needle four times I was filled with the following thoughts.  “This just isn’f fair, it hurts so much, I wish I didn’t have to go through this”, and as a result I felt my muscles clench making the inserting of the needle harder.  At a certain point I consciously let my body relax.  I cannot truly say how the shift came about but at some level I just surrendered.  I knew that whatever the outcome was and no matter how much pain I was in that these feelings would not last forever.  I also knew that on some level having breast cancer was the next stage of my healing journey.  At this point I chose to start singing a song to myself.  The nurses holding my hand performing the procedure noticed it and commented on the shift.

I believe this mindfulness practice of noticing our feelings and the associated thoughts surrounding them is the point of power in which we can change our attitude to feelings we cannot choose to have or not have.  In changing our attitude to one of acceptance of and openness towards our feelings we can self soothe and nurture ourselves.  We can hold our own hand.  We can say loving things.  We can become willing to accept the pain we need to face in order to be real and to heal.  And when we are no longer blocking or resisting our true feeling we can learn from them.

There is a reason for the word e-motion.  For our emotions are energy in motion, they are the substance our soul and spirit uses to guide us.  And when we are free to feel and notice them and the surrounding thoughts or meaning we give to them, we are in a better position to respond rather than react in negative, self defeating or self sabotaging ways.

I am very interested in astrology and I have most especially felt the very strong power of the current station back to forward motion of the planet Saturn over the past six days.  Saturn I believe on some level rules the issues we have to face in life in facing our reality.  Saturn is the ring pass not of challenging experiences our souls must go through.  Saturn also on some level rules our thought processes and his transit around our chart shows us how and where we must structure and restructure our lives in order to move through our karma and build new structures, containers, approaches and relationships.

Saturn is currently in the sign of meaning making, Sagittarius.  Saturn in Scorpio was the prior transit in which many of us had to face the murky depths of feelings, pains and secrets, the shadow side of ourselves.  Upon his entry into Sagittarius many of us were challenged to make meaning of this shadow transit, to shine the light into the depths of our interior landscape and emotions, our (at times painful) interconnections with others. As Saturn has negotiated the first 16 degrees of Sagittarius since October last year we have been challenged to find the meaning in these depths and with the square to transiting Neptune (ruler of dreams, illusions and the collective unconscious through which we are all deeply connected) I feel many of us have had to face the difficult fact that the ideal or dream we wished for is often at odds with the true reality of our lives.  People may have disappointed us, they may have hurt us deeply, we may have been scarred and suffered many losses and yet Saturn in Sagittarius shows us that we can still find hope deep within ourselves if we are willing to dive for meaning within and accept what we find, accept even the difficult passages of our lives and all the feelings which make us human and teach us what it means to suffer.  Saturn shows us the places where we are challenged to dream a more realistic dream, one that in facing and accepting reality allows us to birth love,  maturity. integrity and wisdom.

 “Genuine positive thinking begins by including all our reality.” –

Gabor Maté

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