Acceptance V putting up with shit
A few weeks ago, my workmate sent me an article by The Guardian titled “The Mindfulness Conspiracy”.
Obviously as soon as I read the title I felt defensive, especially because he’s cynical about all things and could use a big spoonful of mindfulness to stop stressing at work so much.
But I gave it a read just too see what the author, Ronald, had to say.
And by gave it a read I mean I read a big chunk at the start, skimmed the middle where it got a little ranty and finished strong with the last paragraph.
It’s bloody long.
Set aside 15-20mins of concentrated effort.
Or don’t. Because I’m going to tell you what it’s about now.
There are two main themes of the article.
One is that the mindfulness industry is just a big fat money maker and all these zen af mindfulness teachers are also super savvy business people who are selling their courses, retreats and apps to the middle and upper class who are lapping it up.
Now I’m totally in the lapping it up category but these courses and apps have also changed how I live my life for the better.
If these guys don’t make money from what they’re doing, then they can’t actually sustain a business and continue sharing these with the world.
The more people that learn it, the more who can teach and the more accessible it can be for everyone.
*Steps off soapbox*
What I really want to talk about here was the bigger point made in the article.
Our mate Ronald basically said that individuals and workplaces are using mindfulness as a way to deal with the fast-paced, highly pressured, often overwhelming, stressful work life that many of us have.
But why are workplaces like that in the first place and why is this a culture promoted in our society?
Ronald believes that mindfulness for stress reduction is just putting a plaster over a bigger issue and letting the responsibility fall to individuals to deal better with stressful environments that shouldn’t be created and encouraged in the first place.
Now after this point he got very fired up about us all being so individualistic and to join forces to change work culture in the UK through political actions and Government laws.
This is where I started skimming.
It was less like a Martin Luther King Jr inspiration speech and more like your Dad getting wound up that the neighbour let their dog shit on your front lawn.
Ronald got me thinking about a key theme in mindfulness – acceptance.
Acceptance is allowing things or people to be as they are in the present moment.
It is based on the idea that when you resist what is happening or fruitlessly try to change things, all you are doing is creating internal conflict and either amplifying your negative emotions or just creating them unnecessarily.
When you argue with reality, you will lose 100% of the time.
So instead of arguing with what’s happening, accept it for what it is, let go of your negative thoughts or emotions about it and deal with whatever is happening with a clearer, calmer mind.
Two good examples of this are with stress and other people.
You’re busy at work, feeling a little bit of pressure and then your boss dumps an urgent project on you that needs to be done NOW.
“I don’t have time for this”
“Now all my other tasks are going to slip behind schedule”
“I definitely have to work late to get this done”
“Why isn’t [insert name here] more organised. It’s so frustrating”
“I don’t even care about this bloody project”
And then you get four new emails in your inbox and all you can think is “Can everyone just fuck off and stop disturbing me!?”.
Now all of these thoughts are unnecessary and the only thing they are doing is causing you more stress.
If you just accept that:
A. You now have this project as a priority and you’re going to have to focus on it.
B. All your other tasks will need to be rescheduled and that’s ok.
C. You’ll have to work late but you’ll try to minimise that.
D. You do not have the capacity to help other people and answer emails and that’s also ok.
Then you can get on with the project quickly and with a clear head instead of stewing under a cloud of bad vibes and bad attitude.
Lots of us think that we accept people in our lives for who they are but I call bullshit on that.
If you say you don’t get annoyed at others for not behaving the way you think they should, just pause and think about two people you know who would have a much better life if they just did [insert logical and helpful action here].
When we truly accept others for who they are, the way they do things and how they live their life, we release a lot of internal tension for ourselves.
Right now, my brother is going through a transition period after a crappy breakup and is basically finding himself again.
His way of finding himself is not the way I, or my Mum, would do it.
She was worried that he wasn’t going to work on time, hanging out with dregs, smoking weed and not looking after himself.
I basically wanted to shake him and remind him of all the goals and ambitions he has then light a Guy Fawkes bonfire under his ass to get him moving.
Is that helpful for anyone here? No.
Mum was stressed, I felt disappointed and he wasn’t feeling the love from either of us plus totally avoiding Mum.
As soon as Mum let go of what she thought he should be doing she felt instantly more relaxed and at peace.
It’s very easy to have opinions on how other people should live and act because the way we do it works so well for us and we think we’re doing pretty damn good.
Prime example is when your friend is dating a drop kick and you know she should drop kick his ass to the kerb. Especially when he’s the urban dictionary definition of hot and cold and she is forever upset about being let down.
That frustration and exasperation you feel when she doesn’t listen to or act on your advice? That’s your problem.
Accept that other people’s choices are their own and they are adults that are making their own decisions for their own lives.
You will feel a lot more chill and the people in your life will feel more supported in who they are.
When acceptance is not the answer.
Tying this all back to our mate Ronald, there are times when acceptance is the way forward but there is a big difference between acceptance that brings you more peace and less stress, and acceptance that is just plain unhealthy for you.
Ronald is right about our work environments.
Mindfulness says that we choose how we feel, our perspective and we can reduce our stress and anxiety through understanding our reactions better and mindful techniques.
I even wrote a whole blog on stress being your choice “so stop choosing it!”.
If your office is understaffed, you’re overwhelmed with work, you’re expected to slave away doing unpaid overtime, your boss is an asshole or the whole place is toxic, DO NOT ACCEPT IT.
It is not your responsibility to fix yourself internally to deal with that shit.
Yes, you can practice mindfulness to help you cope and lessen your emotional triggers but if your environment or the people in it is the problem then take action.
If your boss yells at you then acceptance isn’t going to make that ok.
If someone at work has left and instead of hiring someone else they’ve just expected you to pick up the slack then acceptance isn’t going to throw you a life ring while you slowly drown in projects.
Acceptance brings you peace in a way that is mentally and emotionally healthy. It clears unnecessary resistance, tension and stress.
Acceptance is not being a doormat.
Acceptance is not giving up and feeling hopeless.
If you hate the environment you’re in right now, either at work, in a sports team or in your flat, don’t accept it.
Be brave, look after yourself and make a change.
I totally believe that you can accept anyone as they are, even if they’re an abusive human, but they do not need to have any sort of place in your life.
I can accept that someone I know is an energy vampire and drains the life out of me. You do you gf, but I will not be spending my time with you.
Maybe you have a family member who puts you down and makes you feel stupid. Accept them for who they are and then do not talk to them until you’re at Christmas dinner with them again.
I worked so hard to accept a guy for who he was. Accept the disappointing and upsetting situations I was in. Squash any expectations or hopes I had for him and our semi relationship.
I thought taking responsibility for my emotions and accepting it would mean everything was easier and I wouldn’t feel so unappreciated and let down.
But if you are being used and emotionally abused like I was, then it is not your responsibility to change how you think and feel about it.
It is your responsibility to get the fuck out.
I would even meditate to calm myself down and not feel so shit.
Meditation is not the answer.
Being fully aware that your tears are because of your perspective of being stood up is not the answer.
Not accepting the horrible situation you’re in is.
Acceptance is not being a doormat.
It is your life, you set the standards and you choose who gets the privilege of being in it.
Although most of your article was political and I’m not about the politics life, you made a great point.
Mindfulness can put the responsibility on individuals to fix themselves instead of the collective taking action to change the ridiculous working environments so many of us have.
And you got me thinking about acceptance.
You are responsible for how you feel and most of us choose to get overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and angry over things that we really don’t need to.
Acceptance of situations and other people can clear internal conflict and bring us peace, a clear head, stable emotions and improve our relationships.
I think we should all take a look at the people in our lives and identify how we are wanting them to be different and consciously practice accepting them.
And next time you’re stressed or late, try just accepting the situation as it is and see how you feel. It works great with tube delays.
But remember, if a situation or a person is really bad for your mental, emotional and even physical health, acceptance is not your answer.
Be brave, set standards, set boundaries and put yourself first.
Take responsibility by taking action.
Do not accept an environment or another human who makes you feel like shit.
You deserve more than that and the world has an abundance of amazing places and people just waiting for you.