What does it mean to accept reality, and how can learning to do this make a positive impact in your life? Accepting reality doesn’t mean you don’t act on anything. What you do about what happens is a completely different conversation. The mistake that we usually make in accepting reality, is the definition of reality. Reality is not our thoughts and responses about what happens. It is the physical event that occurred. How you feel about it is a separate conversation. Separating the physical event from what you think about it is the key to the power of accepting reality.
Sometimes when a negative experience happens we just react to it. We act on it without thought and it ends up creating negative circumstances in our lives. We are still left with the feelings of the event. How can we short circuit reality from creating carnage in our lives?
When a negative event happens, it isn’t a one step process to accept it. There are a series of events that occur. This is how I see accepting the reality of one of those events.
- Something negative happens.
- Acknowledge that the physical event happened, but don’t add your own thoughts to it.
- Really notice and get curious about the feelings that come up, instead of reacting.
- Accept the way you feel about it.
- Decide how you are going to move forward.
The way you see an event would be perceived at least slightly differently by almost every one of the other 8 billion people on planet earth. You may have friends who nothing seems to bother, and others who seem to be bothered by every little thing. The same event causes no disturbance for the first group, but for the second group it is like the end of the world. My point here is that reality is not influenced by how we see it.
This is the key to stopping negative events from having long term negative consequences on you. When you notice you are feeling a negative emotion, really focus on how it feels in the moment instead of reacting to it or adding your own thoughts. This might sound weird, but try to sense where you feel the emotion in your body. Get curious about it, like it has something to tell you because it does. Once you acknowledge something in this way it greatly reduces and sometimes eliminates the feeling. This is also helpful with minor physical pain.
When we experience negative emotions our natural reaction is to push them down and away from us. The human mind doesn’t work like that. When you push something down the only thing you can be sure of is that it will resurface at some point. Think about how trauma impacts a person. The most impacted people are those who have pushed down their emotions. Instead of pushing down your emotions, acknowledge them, take a deep breath, and accept them. You are not your emotions, you are the one who feels them. That says something about your biology and life experiences, but it says nothing about who you truly are. You are not your thoughts, your past, or how you feel.
Now it is time to decide if there is anything you should do about what happened. Some believe that accepting reality is like accepting defeat, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, it gives you the ability to make clear rational decisions about what you might want to do next if anything.