Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Building Resiliency Through Acceptance

Radical Acceptance is a book by Tara Brach. In this book, she talks about how we can explore accepting things that we are resisting as a pathway to less suffering. She talks about suffering being a result of resistance and not the events that happen.

Someone told me recently that there is a saying that pain is unavoidable, but suffering is not. That resonated with me. Feeling pain, sadness, and grief about loss is a natural and healthy part of life. However, suffering is optional.

When we resist what is - we are putting energy into something with little return. In Keegan and Lahey's newest book The Immunity to Change, they talk about the result when we put energy into commitments to change and also competing commitments not to change. They give the example of putting one foot on the gas pedal and the other on the brake pedal. A lot of energy is being expended, but no movement is happening.

Every day we hear about budget cuts and layoffs. We hear about service cuts at the same time as increases in demand for services. How can we accept this? Not that we are saying this a good thing or we approve of it. But how can we be with it in a way that doesn't create suffering? It is challenging. If we can feel the sadness and at the same time feel the hope of what is possible - we can free up energy from resisting -- and direct it toward something more productive.

This does release energy and build resiliency. Sometimes at the raw moment of grief and loss we can only experience one side of this paradox, the what is now. This is natural. Eventually however if we can feel both sides - we feel lighter. Parker Palmer calls this paradox the tragic gap. There are several videos of him talking about it on you tube. Click here for one.

Cassandra at

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