As always, the Dharma had much more to say on the subject of acceptance and I was eager to learn all that he had to teach me. Like most frogs, I have trouble accepting things that don't go my way. He talked about the word acceptance and how the word itself can be confusing. Something might be considered "unacceptable" because it's bad or not up to our standards. But then, just as you're about to complain about the unacceptable thing, someone will undoubtedly come up and tell you just need to accept it. How can we accept something that is unaccpetable? As Dharma explained it, it's about learning to develop a more accepting attitude...accepting what is, letting go, and moving on...even when that someting isn't necessarly good for us or someting that we want. "That's not always so easy to do, Dharma," I said. "Are there things I can learn to do that will help me to be more accepting?" He nodded yes and began to list some things that everyone, humans as well as frogs, can put into daily practice that will help them be more tolerant of life's difficulties.
1. Support yourself though the learning process. Leaning to be accepting, you might think initially, is difficult or immpossible. It is difficult, but not immpossible, so empathize with yourself and know that's OK to feel this way. It's natural. The path to moving forward is often two steps back and one step forward. It's a learning process like anything else. Learn to enjoy the dance.
2. See things for what they really are. It's easy these days to lose touch with reality. We can spend so much time trying to make things work out that we begin to believe, "Surely this is going to work..It must." No. It mustn't. Life has it's own agenda. Start repeating the mantra, "It is what it is; nothing more and nothing less."
3. Learn to take things less personally. Not everything that happens in life is directed at you personally. Believe it or not, the universe isn't out to get you. Bad things happen to awesome frogs and people, everyday. Don't believe me? Just watch the news. One of life's more difficult "tests" involves grieving and a recovery process. Grieving is learning to accept a difficult situation. Recovery is the ability to move forward.
4. Don't confuse acceptance with a statement of preference. It is often a mistaken belief that acceptance means whole-heartly supporting "wjhat is" over some other option that you might have chosen for yourself. When you accept something, you're not saying that things couldn't be better, or that you don't have another preference. It doesn't. What it does say is, "It's not for me to decide these things." You're not in charge of the universe.
5. Get used to the way things actually are. Certain things are a "fact of life." It's just the way it is. Lean to be OK with that. Not everyone can be rich, powerful, thin, beautiful, artistic, etc, etc, etc. If you find yourself getting depressed, angry, or annoyed when you're faced with a reminder of how things are, you probably haven't truly accepted them. "Many things stop being awful once you get used to them and learn how to handle them."
6. See acceptance as the ability to relax around things. The acceptance of something really means to remain calm "towards, or in spite of," the way things are. To be truly happy you need to maintain a peaceful state of harmonious co-existence with everything, despite some things being flawed and situations that are beyond our control. Adopt the attitude that, although things may not be great, you can still be OK with them.
7. See acceptance as something you do for yourself. Learning to accept difficult or unpleasant things, people, and situations is really about self-love. You are commiting to your own well-being. I mean, it is rather pointless to have an "allergic reaction" to every difficulty that presents itself. There simply isn't enough Allegra or Nasacort to combat that many "allergies." Acceptance has little do do with the specific thing you're accepting. No. It's all about self-care. Try saying (and meaning it) "I'm going to do myself a HUGE favor and not care about this very much. What you're doing is refusing to beat yourself over something you can't change. It feels pretty good to stop hitting your head against the brick wall. Try it; you'll see what I mean.
8. Recognize that something good comes out of acceptance. When you finally stop fighting the loosing battle and simply come to terms with the irritation/pain/problem, you'll be surprised at what good may come of it. You learn new life skills (always an invaluable tool) and you become better at offering yourself some genuine, and much needed, self-love. Fighting "what is" comes from a place of ego and the ego is self-centered and doesn't care about your inner well-being. So go ahead and tell Mr/Ms Ego to "Hush up" that you've got things under control. It may take a few times before he/she get's the message but, eventually, they'll stop talking all the time and will listen more.
As Dharma finished up his breakfast, as well as our weekly lesson, he reminded me of an old saying, "Irwin, my son, every cloud has a silver lining. It isn't always visible at first, but if you look at it clearly and objectively, you'll find what you're looking. The ability to accept things, and to move forward with "what is" is one of the most important lessons anyone can learn. You did a great job with the situation involving your neighbor this morning. You could have hopped over there and started yelling at them, but what good would that have done...exept raise up your blood pressure? But the way you handled it, not only gave you a real sense of peace, but also a nice clean lily pad and a yummy breakfast! The extra time this morning was a gift! It may be a small thing, granted, but it is a wonderful starting point to strengthen your acceptance skills. Keep up the good work, my boy." And with that, Dharma hopped off....
Accepting whatever life throws at us, isn't easy nor is it fun. But we can choose to always see things in their best light. Everything happens for a reason. I just hope I can remember this the next time someone cuts me off in traffic....