In my blog of Friday, August 7th, I wrote about acceptance in relation to people and defined acceptance as “the act of accepting.” I wrote that acceptance was simply accepting another exactly as they are and exactly as they are not and that acceptance should not be confused with agreeing with or condoning the actions or speech of another. Rather, we should look at acceptance as the beginning of love.
But, acceptance is also hugely important in our lives when we look at the situations in which we find ourselves. Many of us believe that justice will always prevail. We believe that only good things will come our way because of the lives we live. And we fail to believe that an outcome of injustice could possibly befall us. While those beliefs are good ones to have, they are not always realistic. And, in fact, those beliefs can render us impotent in being effective should we find ourselves in a less than optimal situation.
Have you ever heard someone exclaim, “I can’t believe this!” or, “This can’t be happening to me!”? Maybe you or someone you know has proclaimed their disbelief of a situation by saying, “This can’t be right” or, “It just isn’t fair.” Getting hung up with the rightness of a situation or your deservedness to be in a situation is a trap! It’s a trap that will continue to pull you under so that you eventually will be unable to keep your head above water and the enormity of the situation will swallow you whole.
But that doesn’t have to be the way things come to closure. What happens in these situations is that we must be fully aware of what is happening. We must be profoundly related to every detail of what is happening and be fully present to it. Getting caught up in the trap of “unfairness” is simply a form of resistance. When we resist the situation, it will persist.
This principle, to my knowledge, was first presented by Carl Jung (1875 – 1961), noted Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology known as Jungian psychology, when he wrote: “what you resist, persists.” This is a hard concept for many of us to grasp. Our predisposed way of being has us resist everything that we are against, everything that we don’t believe should be, and anything that is a hindrance to us. But, let me provide an example and see if that makes this an easier concept to comprehend.
Let’s say that I’m driving down a gravel road in the country. It’s pitch black out and there are no street lamps. It begins to rain which only helps to obscure my vision. All of a sudden, a deer runs out into the road in front of me. Knowing the damage that’s possible upon impact, I swerve to avoid hitting the deer. My car skids on the gravel and the next thing you know I’m off the road, in a field, where the tires on my car seem to be buried half way down into the mud.
At any given point in the above illustration, if I didn’t have a profound relation to the reality of what was happening and accept what was happening, I could have found myself in a much bigger mess. When the rain began I could have been caught up in that and been stuck with the “fact” that I didn’t deserve to be in this situation. If I were really stuck there, I might avoid turning on my wipers because my belief that I didn’t deserve what was happening would come with a corresponding belief that the situation would change because it wasn’t deserved!
When the deer ran out in front of me, I could have been stuck in my belief that this was really unfair. The belief that something is unfair also comes with a corresponding belief – the belief that the situation will change because only things that are fair and right should come my way. I could avoid swerving to miss the animal believing that it would move out of the way of my vehicle because it had unfairly run into my path. But not swerving could have caused irreparable damage to my vehicle and could have even cost me my life.
Finally, being stuck in the muddy field I could have muttered about how unjust this situation was. I was now stuck in a muddy field in the pouring rain in the middle of the night with no one around to help me. I could say to myself, “this isn’t happening to me. I can’t believe this. This isn’t fair and it can’t be happening.” But the only thing that my resistance would provide me is to keep me stuck in the very same place. I would be taking no action to change my situation – only steaming over the unfairness of it all.
But, once I get related to the reality of the situation, I can put aside whether or not something is fair. It doesn’t even matter what judgment I make about the situation. The fact is, what is happening, is happening. And if I don’t do something about it, I will do nothing but persist the situation because of my resistance. Once I get related to my reality, I can decide to use my cell phone to make a phone call, get out of my car and walk to try and find help, or choose another course of action. Resistance, besides causing the situation to persist, also paralyzes us to the point of inaction.
There are many forms of resistance but a few are: tuning someone out, refusing to believe that something is true or even possible, inactivity, complaining, back-biting, undermining another, and complacency. You may find other ways in which you resist others or you resist the reality of events in your life. Start seeking them out to see where it is that you are in need of a reality tune-up.
So where does that leave us? We need to look at accepting what is happening in the world and in our lives. I’m not speaking of acceptance as the result of favorable judgment, but acceptance that what is happening, is happening. World hunger is happening. We must accept it. Fighting against it is just another form of resistance. If you want to change what is, work on feeding the world – not on fighting world hunger! If your finances are not where you believe they should be, you must start by being profoundly related to the reality of your finances and accept that they are where they are. Then, you will be in a place to take action; not an in-action of resistance, but an action of creating a budget and a plan that will work to bring you to where it is you want to be.