Radical Acceptance Part 4

Part Four: Accept that Life can be Worth Living


Accept that Life Can Be Worth Living
So what else do you have to do?  You have to do one final thing.  You have to accept that life can be worth living, even if really painful events are in your life.

What's that mean?  Well, it means that you have to find a way to not say that life is a catastrophe.

How about if we take an example. You get thrown in jail for a crime you didn't commit.  You are innocent. And now it's gone to the Supreme Court. And they didn't overturn your conviction. So it's looking like not only are you in jail... Let's imagine you're in there for something really serious so you're in there for life.  What are your options?

Well, you certainly can not solve that problem. You're not going to get yourself out of jail. And to be honest, it just doesn't seem to me it's going to be possible that you're going to start being happy that you're an innocent person in jail.  So I think we're going to rule that one out. So what are your options? 

Ok.  You could be miserable, distraught, upset. You could cry every day for the rest of your life. Or, you could accept it and figure out a way to build a life worth living inside a prison. 

To go from unendurable agony to endurable pain, you're going to have to accept that you can build a life.  Because if you don't accept it, what will happen?  You're not going to build a life.  And building a life worth living actually takes a fair amount of work. Believing that you can't do it makes it almost impossible.  Believing that you can do it makes it a lot easier, so the chances are a lot higher that you'll actually do it - you'll build a life worth living.

So what gets in the way of radical acceptance?  Lots of things do.  The most common thing that gets in the way is the belief that if you radically accept that means you're approving, you're going to be passive, you're resigned. 

People I've worked with, they almost always so this.  They say, 'what are you talking about? Me?  Radically accept? I thought you were trying to teach me to stand up for myself. How could I do that by radically accepting?'

Other people say, 'Are you kidding?  That's the problem with the world. We accept to much - the world is going to hell in a hand cart and no-one is doing anything about it.'

If you want to change something, you have to accept it first. You can't change something you don't accept.  If you don't face the reality as it is, if you deny it how are you going to change it?  If you think there is no cause, it just happened magically or fate or luck, how are you going to change it? 

So, acceptance is required. 

Don't believe me, huh? Alright, I'll give you an example.  Imagine the following.  You're a person who is buying a new house. And you finally found the house of your dreams. 


There's only one problem with the house. It's purple. And you hate the colour purple.  So you say when you buy, 'Alright, I'll pay you this much money' and you get it signed, sealed, delivered.  When you get to that house, it is not going to be purple.  Fine. The big day comes, so exiting, you get your keys, you go to the house - not only is the house still purple, but the owners have moved and you don't even know where they are. 

Alright. Who do you think would get that house changed the fastest? The person who walks in and says, 'Ah!  I can't stand it!  This is a disaster. Oh God!  Where are those people?  We've got to get this... Ah!  So mad! Well I'm just not going to tolerate this!  I just can't believe...'  And that person goes on and on and on. Maybe they storm out, get in their car, leave, they say, 'We're not buying that house.'  But can you get out of it? No.  That's one person.

Now imagine the other person.  They go in and say, 'Ah, so disappointed.  I didn't want the house purple. Alright, where's the nearest paint store?'

Who's going to get it changed first? The person who accepted that the walls were purple or the person who threw a tantrum? What do you think? Well it's the person who accepted.

So if you want things to change, accept them.  Then change them. Because when we talk about accepting reality as it is, we're not saying, 'Accept reality as it is and believe it can never change.'  Reality is always changing.  If you want to have an influence on how it changes, you see your interest is to accept how it is right now. 

It's really easy to accept things you like.  And when you're happy, you don't even think about accepting it.  When things are going your way, they're what you approve of, what you want, acceptance is really easy. 

So when is acceptance hard?  Well, it's the hardest when you hate what's happening to you.  Or your really disapprove of it.  Or, it's causing you a lot of pain. So the bottom line is, the higher the pain, the harder the acceptance. 

Let me give you an example.  You get married to a nice guy. Then you discover this guy has lots of wonderful qualities that you had actually never noticed. He's completely different than you thought. He's ten times more wonderful than you thought.  Do you think that would be easy to accept or hard to accept?  Right!  Easy.

Well, let's take another case. You marry a guy, he's a nice enough guy. Now you're married.  You get to know him.  And you discover he has lots of negative qualities. In fact, he's got a lot of things about him that you had not known and you do not like. Easy or hard? Hard. 

Now why do you think that is?  Why is it harder to accept really painful things?  Generally, it's because secretly, somewhere inside us, we actually believe that if we refuse to accept something that we don't like, all we have to do is throw a tantrum or refuse to accept it.

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