Someone has wronged us or betrayed us. Anger rises. It simmers in our thoughts as we contemplate our revenge: “Just wait; I’ll get even with you.”
And we repeat to ourselves over and over the injustice of the situation, of how we were treated and why we didn’t deserve it.
What felt like a kick in the stomach the first time is repeatedly replayed as we continue to stoke the flames of anger, hurt, and betrayal until we have a raging furnace inside of us – our stomach churning into hard knots, chilling our bones.
Acceptance is a concept – a state of mind – a way of looking at life and problems. It is a way of thinking that can be applied to any circumstance. It is a pivotal point that takes us from what we can’t do to possibilities, options and choices.
Problems have a magnetic way of holding us in place. Like an insect caught on fly paper, we get stuck in the mess of it all and can’t see a way out.
Acceptance takes us out of the victim role and puts us in the administrator role.
It keeps us from playing the blame game where everything – from circumstances to people, parents, siblings, religion, God, whatever – are blamed for our inability to do anything.
Acceptance puts us in control of our responses regardless of what life throws at us.
Acceptance is a necessary step in helping us recover from losses.
When we accept our circumstances, their formidable impact on our life is reduced while helping us find ways to reconcile and heal.
In many ways, we are addressing stressful events every day. We acknowledge, accept, look for options and work to find solutions instead of allowing them to create ongoing turmoil. Because acceptance is such an important concept, I want to expand on how it can help us lower stress levels in our daily lives.
We are currently living in uncommon stressful times: the pandemic, inability to go back to work; wondering whether our kids can go back to school, whether we will have enough money to pay our bills or if life will ever return to normal. Add to that the emotional stress that is generated as we try to communicate and work together to solve the escalating problems we face.
The purpose was to discover patterns of thinking and behavior that add unnecessary stress to your life.
Were you surprised by how your thoughts could increase or decrease the stress you had?
As we learned from Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, we make assumptions about the world and ourselves that become unquestionable core beliefs and unbreakable rules by which everything and everyone is evaluated.
Irrational thinking influences how we think and act, how we treat others, our relationships, our attitudes, expectations, and assumptions.
It seems that life keeps handing us one stressful thing after another. We barely resolve one problem when ten others pop up, demanding immediate attention. Stress now becomes a constant battle, a way of life that keeps our thoughts and emotions in turmoil.
According to Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, renowned scientists and psychologists, it isn’t situations by themselves that determine how we feel, but rather the interpretations and perceptions we make.
While it is important to pay attention to our emotional responses, we also need to pay attention to what we are saying to ourselves about these incidences. We can blow events out of proportion by how we think. These become thought distortions or irrational thinking that increases our stress levels.
We will experience stress every day. That is normal and natural. For example:
You’ve been asked to work overtime – again. The bus was late, you arrive home to kids fighting and an irritated spouse, the kitchen is a mess and you just want to throw up your hands and scream.
That is a pretty normal reaction to a string of events that were frustrating and exasperating. Who wouldn’t want to throw up their hands and scream?
However, when we remain in that agitated state, the original stress is compounded. We need our jobs, we want to have good times with our families, and we know we can adapt, but how do we keep the accumulation of expectations and demands from overwhelming us?
While stress is universal and everyone experiences it, it is also very personal. What stresses one person may be an exhilarating experience to another. Consider sky diving or swimming. In the Study Guide and Personal Application that accompanies this book, the questions presented can help you understand the sources of your personal stress.
We can’t live without stress nor do we want to. It is an essential part of living. But we can make it work for us and not against us.
Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more “feel good” hormones? Just by the process itself you are changing how your brain is operating.
Wow! That’s pretty significant. But why then don’t we focus more on all the blessings and things we can be thankful for rather than the things we don’t like and that make us unhappy?
Because we also get a payoff from continuing to focus on all the bad things. We are rewarded at least in the short term. Even worrying makes your brain feel better – at least for the moment. But not in the long term.
And that is what is important – the long term consequence of what you are doing. Because that will have a more lasting effect on everything you do. It produces a feedback loop that continues to expand into more positive things.
What do you say to yourself when faced with handicaps or obstacles that seem overwhelming?
Do you say, I can do that, or do you look at all the reasons why you can’t do it.
That internal way of thinking will influence everything you do. When under pressure to complete work within a limited time frame, or when things go wrong in your marriage or you don’t know how to talk with your teens, and your life seems like it is spinning out of control, what you say to yourself is critical.
Our thoughts and typical approach to life will either compound and add to the stress we are experiencing or we will find new ways to accomplish what we want.
Be in the moment. Take 15 minutes and simply disconnect from life as usual and connect with your self and your surroundings.
From the time we get up until the time we go to bed we are running – even when it is time to relax we are bombarding our thoughts and minds with media sites, posting, texting, zoning out with TV, video games, and on and on and on. All the things we must do, should have done or ought to do. I get tired just writing about it.
I propose a 15 minute reprieve from the madness of the day to day business of life.
Yes, there is a lot we have to do to pay the bills and take care of our families. And it may seem like a ludicrous suggestion to add another 15 minutes to my list. And yet, it may be the most important 15 minutes of your day.
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Eight Ways to Change Your Focus and Change Your Life
Steps to a Successful Goal
Learning to Live Again in a New World (Chapters 1-2)
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