Ruminating on reasons you can’t recover because your symptoms are different or you have very unique circumstances that prevent you from moving forward… is one of the most common symptoms. You’ll always be able to think of reasons why you can’t cut out compulsions, why you need to keep doing unhealthy things right now, why some other time in the future is going to be a much better time for recovery–our brains are so imaginative!
When it comes to dealing with horrible, weird, upsetting, terrifying intrusive thoughts or whatever else your brain is throwing up when you’re struggling with mental illness, learning to practice accepting the stuff in your head and shifting your focus to doing the things that will actually make you healthy, can stop the struggle in your head.
Here’s the beautiful paradox of Acceptance: If you accept all of your worries and intrusive thoughts instead of trying to fight them or be certain about them, you’ll gradually get rid of them. This is not the goal of Acceptance because there’s nothing wrong with those thoughts. But it’s a wonderful side-effect of Acceptance. When you fight intrusive thoughts, you place value on them in your brain, particularly to your subconscious, the part of your mind that’s throwing these thoughts …
This post looks at how you can practice Acceptance after making an error while doing a presentation at work. This is an experience that many people often go to intense, life-limiting lengths to avoid: Step 1: I’m giving a presentation at work and I make an error during the presentation. I say an incorrect number when talking about some projections. All sorts of thoughts pop into my head about being a bad employee, a terrible presenter, that everyone else must …
If you’re afraid of heights, climbing a mountain seems scary. Sometimes our brains trick us into thinking it’ll be easier and safer to dig through the mountains in our lives instead of climbing them.
Your perception of your self can be a barrier to practicing Acceptance. We conflate our fears with our identity. It’s known as “cognitive fusion”. We say things like, “I’m not good with people,” or “I don’t like people,” when it’s simply that we experience many fears and uncertainties around people. That leads us to invent myths about our identity so that we have an excuse to avoid situations that make us anxious.
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.
Meditation is to your brain what running is to your heart. Until very recently, meditation was treated as something spiritual. It was mostly confined to religion, hippies, and yoga classes. But that’s quickly changing as neuroscience research uncovers the very real impacts and benefits that meditation has for your brain.