Acceptance comes from the recognition that trying to control thoughts or trying to control uncertainty in the world around you is what actually causes more uncertainty, more anxiety, and more depression in your life. In fact, multiple studies show that attempts to control unwanted thoughts, images, or memories actually prolong the experiencing of them. Control creates a cycle of anxious reactions. Acceptance stops that cycle.
It’s very similar to something called a tesselation. Tessalations, or tesselating patterns, are infinitely repeating patterns of interlocking shapes. In a tesselating pattern, one shape creates openings for more shapes, and those shapes create openings for even more shapes. Here’s an example of a simple tesselating pattern:
Our attempts at control create a tesselating pattern of infinite uncertainty and anxiety.
The pattern starts with a single uncertainty…
…which is followed by attempts to control that uncertainty…
…but only creates more spaces for uncertainty to enter the pattern…
…which requires even more attempts to control, more opportunities for failure, and more and more anxiety as you run out of time and energy trying to control the world.
Acceptance stops the cycle at the first uncertainty. Accept that uncertainty for what it is and don’t try to control it. Welcome that uncertainty into your life. There’s no reason you have to get rid of anxiety or depression before moving on with accomplishing your goals in life. You can move along with them.
This was an excerpt from The Acceptance Field Guide: Navigating anxiety and depression in an uncertain world, which explores how to practically apply the concepts of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to overcome anxiety and compulsive behaviors in your daily life.
The Acceptance Field Guide is available for $2.99 on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Field-Guide-Navigating-ebook/dp/B006W950CG/