By Julia Pitsouli
I accept; A magic word.
“What’s the weather inside?” You may have never thought of it like that but our mood swings a lot like the weather, with high and low pressures, fog, thunderstorms and pockets of sunshine. Unlike the weather though, we don’t always express our internal condition. Monstrous tornado storms might be raging on the inside while, on the outside, we look like sunshine, maybe with… low chances of rain at the worst. Is there any way, you may wonder, to bring more sunshine in our heart? The answer is acceptance. That is the magic situation that calms us, feeds and comforts us. Acceptance though is a serious thing, not a word to be taken lightly. Before we reach acceptance we need to identify and admit what has happened, what we have said and done. Still, more often than not we are unwilling to take responsibility for our words and actions. We’d rather blame someone else. Still, there is a smarter way to bare our responsibility: to see our negative reactions not as morbid faults but as our fierce “bodyguards”. Let’s take our negative feelings for example. Anger is a kind of bodyguard that pushes us to claim our own, to set boundaries, to stand up to others. Jealousy is another one that helps us see precisely what we think we want, what someone else is or has. Fear is our number one guardian that tells us what to be protected from. If we check out all our negative feelings we will see that they are all some sort of protective functions. They wish to serve us, that is why they are always “on guard”, rush to every little prompt, stay awake-and often keep us awake as well. They could be paralleled to computer functions that run day and night. They are not bad, they are not sinful. They are just functions; expressions of an erroneous belief/ a mistaken mind.
The power of acceptance
Our need of this type of guardians, springs from our conviction that we are insufficient, incomplete, vulnerable or alone. However, another piece in us exists, rightly proud, sufficient, magnificent, brilliant and full of kindness. In order to connect with it we should first make peace with ourselves. Find reconciliation within. So long as our ego keeps us in internal conflict trying, on one hand, to convince us that we are insufficient and on the other reprimanding us for the very same thing, our mind is kept squashed in the middle of an endless battle. Our ego makes sure that our attention is focuses there so that we can never rest and wonder “might I be more than that?” Thus, seeking our true self it is necessary that we stop the internal conflict. The treatment “I accept” is the first step. It is the beginning of dis-identification of our ego’s favorite pastime: criticism. In the weirdest way, this won’t condemn us to eternal insufficiency. On the contrary it will completely free us from it. Acceptance of our shadowy, insufficient alter ego is the beginning of the process of forgiveness. Firstly it will take the form of acceptance and forgiveness of our self for its imperfection and insufficiency. Then it will take the form of forgiveness of our self for its belief in our imperfection and insufficiency. Then, the gate will have opened for us to get to know our Real Self.
A personal experience.
In Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound there is a phrase which holds within the strength to change the world inside and all around us. It’s the moment that the Oceanids arrive to try and comfort the punished Prometheus who has been bound on a rock by Zeus because he had stolen the fire from the gods and gave it to the humans. The Oceanids scold him tenderly for daring such a thoughtless action and sympathize with his ill fortune. Then Prometheus responds with monumental simplicity and bravery. “What was to come I knew, and I have crossed the boundaries, knowingly. I accept.” “Willingly, willingly I erred, I won’t deny it” This plain but at the same time stunning “I accept” is like a password to seize fire inside us. It brings peace and the great opportunity to the mind to look beyond the ego. Accepting immediately stops the incessant babbling of the mind and doesn’t let us be consumed by the effort to abdicate responsibility, the dickering to avoid consequences, the evasions and rationalizations in order to avoid the battering of our ego. On the contrary, it urges us to assume responsibility for our choices. He who assumes responsibility (etymology : Ability to respond) realizes that, not only is he not guilty but that he is the chooser/selector. Only HE can make a different choice. He is the one that has the reason in his hand, thus he can change it. For, as long as we deny a certain reality, there is nothing we can change about it. When I was processing the ideas relative to Prometheus’s “I accept”, I had to visit a hospital. The environment was unpleasant and I felt dysphoria/discomfort. The hospital was on call and there were patients all around me on stretchers, there was a smell of antiseptic in the air and the radiators were old and rusty. As I was walking down the corridors I realized that my whole body was tense. I almost held my breath and I walked hastily avoiding to look around. The environment felt menacing. And then I remembered the monumental “I accept” of Prometheus and I decided to submerge in it completely. Instantaneously my body relaxed, my breathing returned to normal. I looked at the patients and said “I accept”, I heard the hospital noises and I said “I accept”, I smelt the hospital odor and I said “I accept”, I looked at the rusty radiator leaking down the wall and I said “I accept”. I felt my fear and my discomfort and I said “I accept” that, too. I excluded nothing. And then, in a mysterious way, a wave of serenity and peace rushed inside me and filled me with a sence of inner power. At that moment I was taught the stunning force of total, no-exclusions acceptance. It was like returning to myself.
There is a game set up by ego. First it scares us and threatens us or makes us angry and then it reprimands us for those very feelings. It pushes us to make mistakes and then, wearing the cloak of the austere holly inquisition it haunts and condemns us. It pushes us to self destructive behaviors and at the same time it scolds and criticizes us harshly. Still, within us lies that state of mind that makes all the choices. The inner selector though has the quality of identifying with anything it sees. So the ego tries to distract its attention with constant attacks, reprimanding and criticism, fear, anger and complaints. This way the mind is constantly busy with all that and can’t take the time to distance itself for a while to remember that it is something other than that as well. As long as the inner conflict goes on, the selector is forgetting itself and its function. That’s why catholic acceptance of our negative reactions is a supreme way to face ego’s game. The moment we say “I accept, this is so” without wishing to deny, to evade or to set other defensive mechanisms in motion, our inner unity is achieved as well as our initial innocence and primal knowledge that we are much more than our scared, angry insufficient self. Inner reconciliation comes like a rainbow after a storm. A sense of warmth spreads inside us. The weather changes and we can really say “Well, will you look at that! There’s sunshine inside me after all!”