Mindful Acceptance

By Amarachukwu Okpunobi

When uncertainties come your way, you either stand to brace up and see what the future holds or you lay down, drenched in thoughts and pity for yourself. Nobody prays for these things to happen, but this is the certainty of life, no one knows tomorrow.

This alone should awaken our consciousness of how we live, what we say, who we say them to, how we act, what we do and what we don’t do. Sometimes, we lose this consciousness and  do the things, or even say the words we end up thinking and hurting ourselves with.

But one thing is sure, there is another day, another chance, another moment, another purpose and even another time. Hence, no matter what we have done, said or didn’t say, we have to mindfully accept that this is what we have done or these are the words we have spoken.

In this edition, Sylvia Clarke, shares with us her idealolgy of mindful acceptance. Read on…

Someone once said to me, if you are fighting yourself about something that happened in the past, who will win and who will lose – you or you? So which way do you go, how do you manouevre yourself through this kind of sticky patch?

I’ve recently been struggling with events at a family funeral a week or so ago, re-running the things I said or did not say and what was said or not said to me in return. Family is often a complicated institution and especially at events like this when some people treat it like a social and others like a deep ritual celebration of someone’s life.

We all do this and we all ought to understand that this is a pointless exercise since you cannot change what happened. Endless attempts to re-write the events and create different outcomes are as pointless and futile an activity than any other I can think of. What happened is what happened and all we can do is to move on.

From experience there is only one point in exploring what did happen and that is to learn from it. Otherwise, it is simply history, not worth worrying about.

If we are exploring it to understand why we are not satisfied with the outcomes, to consider how we might behave differently ourselves the next time, how we felt about certain things, or to record, perhaps, where we are in the particular circumstances we are reflecting over, then that is constructive and healthy and positive. That is the value of history, the point of reflections.

But if we are stuck in ruminations, attempting to create different outcomes and using self punishment or judgements, we are doing harm to ourselves, even if in our own mind we are seeking to blame those others. It may not have gone your way but it may be that you also did the best you could with the circumstances. You cannot control how others behave or respond, it may not have gone as you expected or hoped for, but what happened is what happened. It is now history. There is nothing more to say or do, apart from learn from it.

This is the point of acceptance. This place of recognition that what is done is done and that is that. Move on. Think of the present, be in the present.

Easier said than done sometimes. I find my danger times are when I wake up in the middle of the night, with full-steam ahead concentrated thought trains about this very topic. I thought I had successfully let it go and been present all day but in the middle of the night it has woken me and says “Come on, look at this thing in more depth right now!” WHY?

Does this mean I hadn’t really let it go, or is it an echo that is worrisome and nothing more? I think partly both. I often think I have come to contentment over something and then find it is rankling once more on another level.

If this happens, I bring my attention to this memory and briefly scan it once more. Is there anything new to be learned, is there anything more I need to do? And when I ask myself these questions, I usually find that I still need to do a little more acceptance work on it.

I find that I may have wanted to con myself into thinking it was done and dusted for me but perhaps it wasn’t. I find that my initial acceptance was slightly avoidance, slightly judgemental, not quite letting go with acceptance. Not yet — not quite yet. A work in progress.

Acceptance means you have truly let it go with active compassion. You have recognised that you and the others party or parties have all done your best in the circumstances, with what you both know, that what you both knew might not be so wonderful as you would like but in that given moment you did your best. Now you need to stop judging that best as less than worthy.

This is the place of acceptance, and hopefully the final letting go. In my case as mentioned above, it is a situation unlikely to reconstruct itself for some time. Everyone involved will be someone else by then, though some move on and others don’t. But I will have that is for certain. I will have openly gleaned every piece of learning I can from it, including not to ruminate overly. Life happens. It is how you deal with it that matters, and mindful aceptance has shown itself to be the only real way for me.