If one understands
The law of cause and condition,
One can find spring
In the midst of autumn frost and winter snow.
It is easy to be frustrated
in this world. We see how things should be, but they are not that way. When
bad things happen to us we may think they shouldn’t have. We choose to define
reality the way it suits us, rather than the way it is. If we have a pain,
but don’t accept that we should have it, we are going to suffer. As long as
we live out of sync with reality, with the way things are, we suffer.
Suffering and pain are not the
same. Pain is a signal. It is an action of our nervous system that makes us
aware of problems. Suffering is the pain plus our negative emotional response
to it. When we reject the pain, when we can’t accept it, we get suffering.
Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. is a psychologist who helps people
learn to manage their painful emotions more effectively. She teaches that
suffering is pain without acceptance, and the work of getting through suffering
is “Radical Acceptance.” That is complete and total acceptance of reality.
She defines reality simply as “what is.” Further, she observes that everything
has a cause. When we accept that everything has a cause we no longer wonder
“Why me?” We no longer live with the phrase, “This shouldn’t be.”
When we enact radical acceptance,
we can remove the suffering from pain. If we get ill, we can spend a lot of
energy crying about it, rejecting the reality that we are ill, wishing that
it weren’t so and railing against God for allowing this catastrophe. Or we
can accept that the illness has a cause. Perhaps we have a genetic predisposition
to it, or we smoke, or we eat foods that contribute to the condition, or
we have a lot of stress, or we live in a world that exposes us to unhealthful
conditions. The illness didn’t befall us because life is unfair or because
God is angry with us. Something real happened and certain conditions existed
that enabled it to happen.
That is not to say that the
illness or any other loss or disappointment is desirable, or that we shouldn’t
do what we can to get better, but we are not going to get better by staying
in our denial of reality and holding ourselves in our destructive emotions.
We overcome suffering by accepting reality and finding ways to make the best
When you find yourself
frustrated or angry at a situation you can’t change. Remind yourself that
this is how things are. This is reality. Remember that everything has a cause,
and so everything is as it should be, given conditions as they are. Allow
yourself to let go of your conceptions of how things should be and let yourself
relax into acceptance. Relax your body as you relax your mind. Remember, you
are not approving of your problem or being passive. You are taking the early
steps to making things better. Once you have accepted reality as it is, you
are in a position to begin working on changing the causes and conditions that
lead to suffering. This practice of acceptance requires repetition. Keep
turning toward acceptance over and over again.
Reference: From Chaos to Freedom a video series of Behavioral Tech, LLC
featuring Marsh Linahan, Ph.D., 2003.
[HOME ][THOUGHT ][ARCHIVE ][PRAYERS ]
[POETRY ][ LINKS ][LISTS ][BOOKSHOP ]