21 September, 2009

Acceptance and the Art of Disappearance (Part 3 of 3)

Here we are on Monday and this is part three – the final section of this series of blogs related to agreement, disagreement, resistance, and acceptance.  As a recap, this all started last Wednesday when we were examining why inequality still exists in America today.  We found that the disagreement of a thing just as strongly binds that thing in reality as agreement does. Then, on Friday we began the inquiry of what we would need to do in order to no longer be participants in furthering negative thoughts and ideas in our world.  We examined the role of resistance and how it prevents us from transforming the things in our lives that aren’t working for us.  And, we ended with discovering that (while we couldn’t transform those things by stepping over them or going around them) we could transform situations by going directly through them.  And the avenue through which we have to go directly through a situation without changing it (because change = resistance, and resistance = persistence of a thing) is acceptance.

So, today we’re looking at acceptance of the things we’ve been resisting for the purpose of transforming those areas of our lives that are not working.  This is not for anyone who is satisfied with the way in which his life is going.  And, it’s not for the person who is faint of heart!  This is only for the individual who is ready to take control of his life, to transform non-working situations into working ones, and who is willing to take a hard, confronting look at his own self for the purpose of leaving behind those things that are not serving his highest purpose.

Following, I’ve listed the steps one needs to take in order to use the powerful tool of acceptance in order to allow for the disappearance of the limiting barriers from one’s life:

Firstly, pick the area of your life that you want to transform.

Next, you’ll need to take a hard look at what it is that’s not working.  Divorce yourself from the story of why it’s not working and separate out the facts of the situation.  To go through this process, you need to become disinterested in continuing to sell yourself the story you’ve been selling to everyone else.  You may have to become brutally honest to get to the basic truth.  Hint: Look for the area(s) where your complaint(s) lies and then look at your reasons.

Thirdly, pinpoint exactly what it is that you’ve been resisting.  Look for: what you’ve been angry about, what you’ve become complacent about, where you’ve been inflexible, what you’ve been trying to change, what you’re afraid of, what you’ve been trying to control or dominate, or where you’ve been in denial or become resigned.  Next, ask yourself why you’ve been resisting this thing.  List out each reason you have for your resistance.

Now, look at each reason, one by one, and ask yourself with each one: “Can I give up that concern?

If you answer that you can, then ask yourself: “Will you give up that concern?

Go through your list, until you’ve determined that you are both able, and willing, to give up each and every concern.

Lastly, after you’ve given up each concern, confirm your acceptance of the thing by saying, “I acknowledge that (say what you’ve been resisting).  I accept that (say what you’ve been resisting) and I accept it exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.  I no longer need to change it, control it, complain about it, fear it, or be in denial about it.  I allow it to exist with no further judgment from me.”

That’s it! Now look back at what you’ve accomplished.  You’ve determined to no longer resist what you had been resisting.  Instead of trying to change it, you’ve accepted it exactly as it is without trying to alter it.  And, now, you’re on the other side of it.  As you look back at the issue, you’ll see that it’s either disappeared completely or it’s still there in present form but it no longer holds any power over you.  In fact, you’ll find that you simply feel free of that thing – regardless of whether it still exists or not.

Since we sometimes learn best by example, I am sharing the following with you as an illustration of how one can put acceptance into immediate use in his or her own life (using the steps outlined above) and thereby allow for the disappearance of issues that are plaguing him or her:

Jill was a very busy advertising executive.  She was a very bright and attractive woman and was highly sought after because of her ability to constantly produce advertising campaigns that worked well for her clients’ product sales.  But there was something that was continuously holding Jill back in her personal, and sometimes in her professional, life.  It was her weight.  Jill wasn’t overly obese.  She weighed around 45 lbs. more than a person of her height should.  She said that she worked long and unpredictable hours which interfered with her ability to exercise on a regular basis.  She had been on several diets – some of which had provided temporary and limited weight loss – but most of which had not produced the results that she desired.  Those that had produced real results were so restrictive or limiting that Jill found it hard for her to stay on them.

While she seemed to have it together in her professional life, Jill’s personal life was another story.  Her weight-consciousness kept her from accepting invitations to go out on dates.  Since putting on the extra weight, Jill had to allow herself 30 extra minutes to get ready for work because she could never choose what she wanted to wear.   (She felt that everything she put on “made her look fat.”) Her self-esteem had been so badly damaged that Jill no longer went out of the house except to go to work or to see family.

Jill sought out help from a therapist in order to regain her lost self-esteem.  She said that she wanted to get past her “mental-blocks” that were preventing her from staying on a diet and exercise program.  Jill said she was ready to do the work necessary to lose the weight.

Since Jill had already identified the area of her life that she wanted to address, Jill’s therapist asked her to tell her all of the reasons she had for not accepting herself exactly as she was.  Jill’s list included: (1) not liking the way she looked, (2) not liking the way she felt, (3) being overweight wasn’t healthy, and (4) she felt that people treated her differently since she was overweight.

For each issue, Jill’s therapist asked her if she could give up her concerns about that issue.  For instance, for the first item on her list, she asked Jill, “Can you give up your concerns about how you look?”  When Jill decided that she could give them up, her therapist asked her if she would agree to give them up.  Jill answered affirmatively to each question.  When she had completely given up her concerns, Jill’s therapist asked her to repeat the following after her.  She said, “I acknowledge that I am overweight.  I accept that I am overweight and I accept my body exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.  I no longer need to change it, control it, complain about it, fear it, or be in denial about it.  I allow my body to exist with no further judgment from me.

Suddenly, Jill’s eyes had a sparkle in them.  She told her therapist that she felt free from being overweight for the very first time.

Jill’s therapist then took her through two more exercises of the same type.   The first one focused on her complaint about exercising and why she couldn’t do it.  The second one was focused on her complaint about diets not working or being too difficult to follow.  After completing the three exercises, Jill said that for the first time in 10 years, she felt free to choose whether she wanted to exercise or not and she felt free to choose what she wanted to eat.  She stressed that she was now free from the burden of needing to exercise or avoid exercising in order to keep her complaint about her weight in place.  The same was true for dieting and eating.

Two months later in a follow-up session with her therapist, Jill had lost 10 lbs!  She said that she repeated her "new mantra" (about being overweight and accepting herself exactly as she was and exactly as she wasn’t) to herself every morning as she looked in the mirror and got dressed.  Jill said that the acceptance of herself and her weight was the single factor of her success.  She said that when she gave up resisting her weight, her weight ceased to exist as a problem for her.

She told her therapist that since she accepted herself as she was every day, it gave her the freedom to choose to exercise and to choose what to eat.  Finally, she was really free to choose to eat healthily or not.  She could freely choose to exercise or not and with that freedom she found that she made her choices based on what she really wanted and not based on old patterns of complaining about a problem that just wouldn’t go away.

A Question of Zen

In a book entitled, “Zen Without Zen Masters,” author Camen Benares provides some insights, questions, and Koans of Zen on which one may meditate.  I am sharing one of these insights (“Good News, Bad News”) here as follows:
                      Good News, Bad News
There’s good news tonight and bad news.  First, the bad news: there is no good news.  Now the good news: you don’t have to listen to the bad news.
After meditation upon this insight, the reader will see that he is getting news and he is only getting news.  There is no good news being delivered.  And, there is no bad news being delivered.  There is only news.  All the rest is what we’ve tacked on.

As you look newly at each issue in your life, allow yourself to see the issue for the simple facts of which it is comprised, without all of the story added.  After all, the story is made up of the stuff that we’ve each tacked on.  We get to say what is true for us.  And, we’re the only ones who get a say in the matter.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

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