“Acceptance can transform but if you accept in order to transform, it is not acceptance. It is like loving. Love seeks no reward but when given freely comes back a hundredfold.” This quote by Marsha M. Linehan, creator of dialectical behavioural therapy, embodies our work in emotional release and radical acceptance. We wish to change but that longing is still a part of our pain and suffering. We won’t change until we look past our wants and needs, accept where we are and who we are, and feel our emotional response fully without shame.
As with every alchemical process, dissolution follows the patterns and transformations of the natural world. Rain sustains the flora, washes salts and toxins from the soil, fulfills the water cycle, erodes, destabilizes, the rivers carry matter from place to place, wetlands create rich environments, the oceans are a world of their own— we must accept we cannot truly control water. We are in control of ourselves, but we use this power to choose to accept our powerlessness in the face of nature.
Once we accept, we begin to change.
Coming back to Dr. Linehan, I’ve spoken several times about radical acceptance— this is a powerful tool in embracing our difficult emotions and life situations. A good overview can be found here. Linehan devised a practice of confronting things we wish to ignore. Radical acceptance doesn’t mean lay down and die, allowing ourselves to succumb to the suffering in our life, but rather be proactive in gaining the strength to change our situation by accepting it first. We can’t change what we don’t accept. We can’t change our lives without accepting our lives, we can’t change ourselves without accepting ourselves.
Write, write your emotions into reality. Make it so they don’t only exist in the dark corners of your psyche. Stare at the words. Let yourself sob. We strive toward emotional release. When the clouds are too full, they must rain. They may strain with the heavy precipitate but eventually, gravity must carry the water down. You don’t need to waste your strength holding your emotions inside.
Breathe, carry the feelings through your body, stomp your feet, throw your limbs around, put on boxing gloves and punch something, shake, force yourself to tremble, exist in your body.
Use sound— scream into a pillow, howl, whimper, mumble, hum, sing. Your voice can carry your emotion from within, traverse from a microcosm to a macrocosm. This journey is vital to our own.
Value the power of emotions. Accept the pain, guilt, shame, anger, sadness. These things belong to you.