”The fact that you are willing to say, ”I do not understand and that’s fine,” is the greatest understanding you could exhibit”
” I just don’t understand”
How many times in a day, week, month do we say or hear others say just this?
For myself (until very recently) it used to be a frequent occurrence, often multiple times daily dependent upon the situations I found myself in. It took me a very long time to realise that no matter what my motivation was for the need to understand……..it was irrelevant!
Irrelevant in the sense that whether or not I understood why things were happening, why someone had said/thought this or that about me or anything else for that matter, why, why, why, why????? It would not make any difference to the outcome of the scenario whether I understood it or not!
For many of us today the act of acceptance is firmly based on the standard definition found in the dictionary;
Acceptance is the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable
The misnomer here is that we have come to take as a given that if something is perceived as inadequate or unsuitable in some way then it is by default deemed to be ”unacceptable” within the confines of societal norms. Whereas in actual fact what we should realistically be saying to ourselves is quite simply;
I do not like and/or understand……scenario x……….however assuming that nothing that I can say or do will effect a (in my opinion) positive change or even make a difference am I willing to consider that I do not actually NEED to understand it?
In other words rather than accepting any given situation which I may find upsetting, uncomfortable or even repulsive I need to consider the reality that the thing I need to think about is quite simply;
That my lack of understanding coupled with the fact that it’s perfectly fine not to be able to do so, is the ONLY thing I have to accept!
I HAVE TO ADMIT that even though I have finally come to understand this as FACT, I cannot take the credit for reaching the conclusion alone. My often insatiable NEED? to ”understand” which on occasion has caused me immense personal heartache has been very calmly, gently but firmly tempered by the unconditional love and support of a small number of people who partly as a result of their own journey and partly because they were able to be objective about my circumstances have been instrumental in helping me to unpick the lock to a mind which had without realising it become a prisoner of the unconscious urge to mold the actions and opinions of others in such a way that they would be acceptable to me!
When I thought about that rationally I couldn’t actually believe how arrogant it seemed to me, let alone others!
The mere fact that by acting the way I had it meant that not only was I trying to change something, I was trying to do so by controlling how that change would take effect…changing someones viewpoint, habits, likes, dislikes and so on. This was very closely followed by the dawning of a reality which meant that if change ”were” needed then it surely it would have to start with me?
I came to understand that it is unrealistic let alone unreasonable to assume that effecting change in someone/something who is unwilling to do so will result in a happier, more positive outcome for those concerned. More likely and especially if the circumstances are already strained in any way, it will serve only to hinder any chance of a mutually acceptable outcome. That said then the only option available is to look to oneself to determine an acceptable solution to the ”issue of acceptance”!!
Historically acceptance is often tied up with the need for control……if something we don’t understand doesn’t ”fit” our picture of life or how it should be, then often the natural impulse is to attempt to ”change it for the better”. Better being our individual take on what is acceptable in our world: and trust me this could range from the smallest everyday issues……..making sure your children eat their greens because they’re ”good” for them…… all the way up to the bigger, serious issues of say……….. altering the opinions of another on religion or racism and everything in between.
The need to control in so far as trying to make someone else conform to our way of thinking is actually the root cause of our not being able to accept the viewpoint of another or any situation caused by it. When we come to realise this and accept it as being unacceptable in itself then we become a lot closer to ”understanding” that because we enjoy freedom of choice and thus thought, we are by definition entitled to view situations or indeed life and how we live it, differently from the next person and that is exactly how it should be.
However whilst we can often reconcile ourselves to the fact that our views on religion, racism, beliefs and lifestyle choices etc can and will differ (sometimes enormously) from others it’s often much more difficult to accept the attitudes or circumstances which impact daily on our personal situations closer to home.
Which brings me neatly back to the simple fact that the only thing I NEED to accept is that I DO NOT need to understand it! Plain. Simple.Period!!
I have come to see that in life and particularly with personal relationships for instance that the thoughts and actions of others are their responsibility and theirs alone. It is very definitely not my place to interfere, judge OR try to control either another human being or the situations they create as a result of their words and actions. However it is my place to assume RESPONSIBILITY with regards to how I respond!
Eckhart Tolle came up with a near perfect summation of the concept of ACCEPTANCE which was;
”When you are in a situation or surrounded by circumstances which are causing you to battle with either your ego or emotions then you should consider the following to help you determine how you will deal with it/them;
LEAVE IT! Can you LEAVE the situation or walk away from the person that is the cause of anger frustration? You need to weigh it up and gauge what is going to be best for YOU.