I believe Acceptance is the second step to living a positive life with pain;
whether your pain is emotional or physical.
Acceptance not as a way of giving-in, but as a way of moving on, of focussing on the important things.
In this second blog in my series – Kicking Pain in the “As” – I’m looking at how
Acceptance impacts the way I deal with pain and embrace the things I believe
I do have the power to change.
Acceptance in this context, takes three forms for me:
This section from The Serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr sums it up for me:
“…give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other…”
I have learned to see this as a liberating view-point when dealing with pain, be it emotional of physical. For example, there are memories of things that happened to me in childhood that are neither positive nor helpful for me to mull over; I cannot change the fact that they happened, I cannot, no matter how much effort or self-belief I have, make them un-happen. So I Accept them. I Accept that they are part of my history, that they are part of the reason I am the person I am today. I do not use my energy on regrets or “if only…”s.
The same applies to physical pain; I have two conditions that mean I have chronic, physical pain in my daily life. I cannot change that. What I can change is the amount of my time and energy I give to it; how much of that is spent on wishing it was different rather than finding new, positive ways to use my energy.
I am not suggesting that Acceptance of this nature is easy; but I am suggesting we can make a choice to make it harder than it needs to be when we attempt to fight against it.
There comes a time when the effort required to do something on your own, apparently in some attempt to prove a point (most often to yourself) is just too much; that moment where we have to accept that we need help. It can be painful, humiliating, frustrating. Or it can be part of the Acceptance process.
I know that my husband, John, likes to “fix” things. He’s always been the person that remains calm in a crisis, calmly getting on with what has to be done as people around him panic. And he likes to fix problems; give him time and he will find a way. He’s proved this time and again when the medical profession did not have a way to help me and he would disappear into his garage and emerge with some adapted object that proved to be just what was required.
So, as part of my Acceptance of help. I’ve accepted that letting John help me is also helping him. When I block out his offers of help, carrying on regardless with stubborn determination, I’m not just making it harder for myself, but for those around me too. Particularly John. So, I accept his help, his ability to see the wood for the trees, his strength and courage, his constant support and encouragement.
When I had a road accident at 26 years old, I was told I would never walk again. I went from active super-woman to being dependant on my wheelchair to get everywhere. It was a huge thing to have to learn to Accept.
Around a year after my accident, I sat John down one evening and told him I would understand if this was all too much; that if he wanted “out” I would never hold that against him. “I don’t want you to stay because you feel sorry for me or out of some sense of duty” I told him. He looked me in the eye and said “I didn’t marry you because you could walk. I married you because you’re fiesty, determined, strong, outspoken and brave. And since your accident, you’ve become these things all the more. How could I not want to stay?”
Every time I recall that conversation, my eyes fill with tears. John allowed me to Accept that with every new challenge, we find new gifts. I found it so hard to see how my accident had changed me; I saw a woman confined to a wheelchair. John saw a woman of strength, courage and determination. As I learned to Accept the gifts that each new chapter brought to our lives, I was able to truly reach that place of Acceptance where I could focus on a positive future.
Are you ready to Accept?