Ever heard of the man with a flat tyre and no jack?
Let’s call him Gary.
One night Gary was driving home after a long hard day at work. He’d decided to take the shortest route home, which meant taking the old dirt road on the outskirts of town. The light was fading, the road was empty and the city lights were miles up ahead. All of a sudden he heard a loud ‘BANG’, followed by a ‘flap, flap, flap’.
The tyre had blown.
‘Great…’ mumbled Gary, ‘that’s just what I need right now…’
He pulled over, got out and inspected the damage. ‘Darn it!’ he thought, as he remembered he’d lent the jack to Rob only yesterday. Gary decided to walk to the nearest house to see if they could lend him a jack.
He spotted a few houses off in the distance and started to make his way towards the nearest house with a light on. On the way there, he began to think…
What if they’re not home?
What if they don’t have a jack?
What if they want to charge me to use their jack?
How much would they charge me? $20, $50, maybe $100!
What if they have one, but don’t want to help me?
It took a good 15 minutes before he made it to the house. When the owner finally answered the door she didn’t exactly give him a warm welcome – after all, here was a strange man banging on her door in the dark of night – she was understandably dubious.
Gary had got himself so worked up by that point he yelled, “Keep your damn jack then!” and stormed off.
When frustrating or undesirable situations pop up we have a choice. We can choose to get frustrated and consumed with negative thoughts and become obsessed with the injustice of it all…
…or we can choose to adopt the concept of radical acceptance.
Prominent psychologist and author, Marsha Linehan, describes radical acceptance as: meeting life on life’s terms. It’s about how we deal with problems and face reality. Radical acceptance means acceptance all the way – complete and total. It’s when we stop fighting reality and start accepting with our heart, mind and body.
It’s when we realise there’s no use flying off the handle when the reality of a situation is not the way we want it to be.
It’s when we let go of bitterness, frustration and resentment and start accepting things just as they are.
It’s when we resist the need to change or control things that are out of our control.
It doesn’t mean agreeing with or liking the way things are, or what’s happened. It means that we accept it as it is and learn to move forward. Have you ever noticed how exhausting it is to fight reality?
You can turn thoughts around from:
“I can’t stand this!”
“This isn’t fair!”
“It shouldn’t be this way!”
To something more along the lines of:
“Okay this has happened, I’m not thrilled about it, but I can’t change it.”
Once we start to accept reality for what it is, new opportunities arise. Our fears don’t seem so big anymore. We come out the other end of a difficult situation and realise that we actually survived that experience after all. We gain a sense of stability. We are able to stop fighting and start looking for solutions.
Radical acceptance can be difficult – it takes practise. Luckily, life offers plenty of opportunities to give it another go.
Do you practise radical acceptance already? Leave me a comment below and let me know how you handle difficult or frustrating situations outside of your control.