We have a tendency to push away or want to change the things that we do not like in life, but it is much better for you to learn to accept the things you do not like.
There are many things that will challenge you over the course of your life, and many of them you will not want to accept, these can include big life events such as;
- relationship breakdown, divorce
- ill health and death
as well as challenges to your emotional health.
It is understandable that as a human being, you will be more inclined to run towards ‘good things’ in your life and want to run away from the bad, but this does not really help in the long run, as some things you cannot avoid, and any attempt to avoid, can make matters worse for you.
The problem with not accepting the things you do not like.
Whether you are going through a divorce, living with illness, or trying to find your way through emotional health difficulties, the thing that you are struggling with is a given, at the moment. Let me introduce myself to those of you who do not know me.
My name is Elaine and I am the psychologist behind MoodSmith. I am also divorced (and happily living with my long term partner), I have health challenges, and my own fair share of mental health difficulties; I had anxiety and panic attacks, hence why I specialise in anything that falls under the umbrella of anxiety.
Not accepting a divorce
This is a tricky one, as often people ‘hold out,’ hoping that things might get better, and they might, but we have to go with things as they are right now. If you are going through a divorce right now, then the divorce is a given. When I say ‘given’ I am talking about the facts of the situation right this very minute.
If you do not accept what is happening this moment, you can spend time trying to fix your relationship, trying to stop the divorce, which is an understandable thing, and something most people do at the beginning. After a period of time, if you still have not accepted what is happening, you end up spending most of your time trying to change what is actually happening.
Years can pass for some people, the divorce can be finalised and one person still may not accept this in their mind. It can lead to bitterness, anger, regret, but more importantly I think, you are denied the opportunity to move on with your life.
Not accepting ill health
This is something I researched during my doctorate. Living with a chronic illness is difficult, I understand that personally all too well. Not accepting the limitation on your health however is more problematic.
I was given a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome about 20 years ago and now have a pretty good life. If I did not accept the illness, I guess I could have spent a lot of my time going through “why me?”
If I did not accept it, I might have pushed too hard when I did not feel well, or missed days that I could enjoy as I was wrestling with it in my head. I accept these are brief examples, but hopefully they will be enough to get you to think of things going on in your life that might be difficult to accept.
Not accepting emotional health challenges
I have started with using my own personal examples, so I shall keep going! In the beginning I didn’t know I had anxiety, and yes, I am a psychologist, but I am also a human being! Not accepting that what I was experiencing was indeed anxiety, leads to countless trips to the doctors, endless researching on Google, for a more socially acceptable diagnosis, never mind the mounting fear of what could really be wrong with me?
Read more on health anxiety
Why it is important to accept the things you cannot change
Accepting the divorce was really happening, allowed me to focus on other things such as – what do I need to do to get my life back? This eventually led to me becoming a psychologist, getting my doctorate, moving on with my life and meeting a fantastic man that I now share my life with.
Accepting ill health, in my case CFS, allowed to get out of my head, away from the “why me” and focus on how to live my life in a different way. How to look after myself during the times that I felt unwell, and to appreciate different things.
Accepting my anxiety took the fear away, as I now properly accepted where those frightening feelings were coming from. I no longer thought that I was going to die during a panic attack, rather I focused on what to do to calm my body down. Over time I focused on what I needed to do, what I needed to change in my life, to have a happy nervous system!
Accepting things that you cannot change, leads ultimately to change but without the suffering; pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. The divorce, ill health, emotional health difficulties all can cause pain, but you suffer because of how you deal with it. The suffering, is not the actual event that caused the pain, but the long drawn out battle that you have in your head.