Acceptance: The Foundation of Recovery


The power of Acceptance is the foundation of any recovery involving the mind to help the body.

Knowing where you are in this moment enables each and every one of us to progress and decide the best course of action for us. Without it, we are fighting reality. And a fight with reality always results in one winner… Reality! We can not ever change the way things are because that is how everything is in this moment. We may want it to be different but it isn’t.

This may sound harsh, but I promise you it isn’t. The best way to succinctly explain it is with this quote:

“Accept the diagnosis but not the prognosis.”

The reason the quote is so powerful, to me, is that we accept the condition, we are not fighting reality. However, we also accept and can clearly see that the prognosis is, at best a guess, at worst a death sentence and, not reality.

Why is a prognosis not reality? The answer is simple because it is future based and not in this moment. It is trying to predict the future and there are just too many variables in life and a person’s ability to recover to be able to accurately predict a prognosis.

For example, our beliefs, mindset, and ability to change & adapt are all within our power to change the future by behaving in the best way in this moment. Just because we are where we are in this moment with our discomfort or illness it doesn’t mean we have to be like it forever. Because as the famous old saying goes “This too shall pass.” Everything is just a moment in time.

The key to acceptance is awareness and observation of the mind, body, and emotions. Understanding that we:

  • Have a body, but are not our body.
  • Have a mind (with thoughts, ideas, and concepts), but are not mind.
  • Have emotions, but are not emotions.

Which begs the question who are we? According to Psychosynthesis the answer is: We are the constant conscious awareness of the ever changing body, mind, and emotions. What this means is that we are the observer of the mind, body, and emotions. To become the observer we must realise that we are thinking, feeling an emotion and experiencing a sensation. The best way to get in touch with our consciousness is to try not to think of a Pink Elephant. Try it now for the next 30 seconds…

…How did you get on?

Difficult isn’t it! There was a part of you that really tried to not think about a Pink Elephant, but not thinking about the Pink Elephant is actually thinking of it. However, there was also a part of you that realised you were thinking of the Pink Elephant even though you were trying not to. This part, according to Psychosynthesis, is your ‘Constant Conscious Awareness’.

Now you may be asking, and rightly so, what does this have to do with acceptance? Only with acceptance can we observe the body, the emotions, and our mind and therefore have an awareness of what we think, we feel, and the sensations we have about our condition.

This is important because from this position we can develop ‘Non-resistance’ to our condition. For example, a thought has one purpose and that is to be thought. A feeling has one purpose, which is to be felt. If either doesn’t get thought or felt, I believe, they will manifest themselves out of the body in other ways. Let’s think about this for a moment, when we are angry the energy that is vented when we express the feeling can be immense, if this is not felt through to the end, or it is repressed, where does it go?

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So the aim with the feeling of pain or discomfort is to observe it and not resist it. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but let me explain, first with these three quotes:

“What you resist will persist.”
Buddhist saying

“As soon as you try to eliminate a thought or emotion, you make it stronger.
The trick is to accept them and then let go. This is a skill and it is a process, but it cannot be practised until you recognise that there are two minds and you only control one of them.”
Mark Manson

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu

And then there is the genius of Shinzen Youngs Pain Equation – Suffering = Pain x Resistance, which states that by non-resistance to the sensations of discomfort we reduce or remove our suffering. I think of it this way. I accept there is going to be some pain when I remove a plaster/band-aid. If I take it off slowly I am resisting and the pain and suffering are more. However if I do not resist and remove is quickly I only have a sensation of discomfort which I can observe, feeling it through to the end. You can read more about the Pain Equation here .

Through accepting, non-resisting, and observing our condition we are empowered because we give ourselves space to choose the best way to respond and behave. If we don’t accept, observe, and non-resist we end up reacting which means not choosing our behaviour but habitually reacting. Responding through observing, non-resisting and accepting gives us space to select the best behaviour for us and our condition in this moment.

“Emotions are not a choice. Behavior is.”
Mark Manson

“I don’t care how many positive thoughts you conjure, what kind of therapies you do, or what kind of New Agey spiritual crap you come up with – negative thoughts and emotions are natural products of the human brain.

You can’t get away from them. None of us can.

What you CAN do is accept them. Defuse from them. And then act despite them.”
Mark Manson

All there is is this moment, nothing else. By accepting and choosing to behave in the best possible way will make our best possible future. Our power comes from the awareness of our thoughts, feelings and body and instead of just reacting to our observations we can pause, accept them for how they are and select the best option and behaviour for us. Thus continually causing us to move on an upward spiral.

All of this starts from acceptance, without it we would be running around in the dark living in denial and have no foundation on which to build towards our recovery.

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