An Acceptance Analogy: the TV in your mind
In a previous blog post, I discussed the barriers towards acceptance. These barriers all play off of unhelpful perceptions and ideas that prevent one from fully embracing the idea of acceptance.
But why is it even important to really work towards acceptance? Well, when we are unable to accept the things in our life that are outside of our control (i.e. our authentic emotional experience or the unhelpful thoughts that pop into our minds), we are unable to live mindfully and meaningfully in the present moment. This serves only to reinforce an unconstructive struggle with our intrinsic world and keep us stuck in the realm of suffering and distress. To further illustrate this idea, I want to offer an analogy….
Let’s pretend that there’s a TV on inside your mind. However, you do not have the remote control to this TV. Sometimes, this TV is on a channel that you don’t like. This could be the anxiety channel, the anger channel, the depression channel, the channel of unhelpful thoughts, or a channel containing any feelings/thoughts that are distressing to you. When you notice the channel and realize you don’t like it, you resist it by going to the TV in an attempt to change the channel or turn down the volume. This may work temporarily, but the TV always ends up back on the channel you don’t like because you do not have the remote control. So, you go back to the TV and try again. It becomes an endless loop. By not accepting that you don’t have the remote, you can see how quickly your time is consumed by your distress and trying to change something that is outside of the realm of your control. This adds to undesirable feelings of frustration, shame, and anxiety, as focusing on the channel that is distressing to you leaves you paralyzed. How are you supposed to do anything while you’re focused on the TV? Now, let’s say you choose to accept that you don’t have the remote control. In doing so, you free up space and time to live your life in the present moment. You are no longer drawn to the noise of the TV, as you understand that you cannot change the channel. Sure, it’s a rather annoying or frustrating channel, but you are now empowered to still live your life with the TV on in the background. Over time, as you become focused on the things that are in your control, such as engaging in activities that add to the richness and meaningfulness of your life, the noise of the TV fades. While the channel we don’t like may still pop up in the background from time to time, we are no longer fixated on it and it no longer defines what we choose to do or who we are.
Thus, from this analogy, you can see how the acceptance of things outside of our control actually gives us more control. More control to live meaningfully, mindfully, and richly in the present moment, as we are no longer wasting our time and energy trying to alter or resist things that we cannot change. Instead, we are free to exist and take action towards things that add to the purpose to our lives.
Kaylee Garside, MA, has extensive experience in the areas of mindfulness and acceptance practices, plus many more. For more information on Kaylee and her work, click here to link to her full bio page. See Our Homepage for more info