Common pitfalls in trying to accept

lilian's picture

Average: 4.6 (14 votes)

Trying to accept and observe "what is" is fundamental to spiritual development. Fundamental but not always easy with the mind trying to deceive and sabotage the acceptance. We think we succeeded to accept something and then later we find out that the mind actually played a trick on us and instead of true acceptance, we actually resisted, only this time in a more creative way.

In order to succeed with the art of acceptance, one must be acquainted with the common pitfalls the mind usually sets when we are sincerely trying to accept.

Pitfall no. 1 - Having a tacit motive to eliminate the pain

The motive of the acceptance should NOT be to eliminate the pain, directly or indirectly, by saying for example: if I accept the pain then the pain will lose its energy and will vanish. This might happen but putting such a motive means that the acceptance is not total, that I still resist it, I still try to fight it, this time in a very tricky way...

A true and total acceptance means that I am willing to adopt the possibility, just a possibility, that the pain will remain here forever.

Pitfall no. 2 - Exploiting trust and belief to not totally accept

Sometimes you will find your mind using your trust and belief in trying to accept a pain. Trust and belief are vital and extremely important but in this specific case of trying to achieve a total acceptance, the tricky mind actually exploits your trust and belief in trying to resist the pain by using a "back door". It says "well, I do accept this pain or that pain BECAUSE this is god's will, or I am stopping resisting BECAUSE I believe that it is just a spiritual test, etc." If you look carefully, you will see that the "BECAUSE" is actually sabotaging the totality and purity of the acceptance. A total acceptance cannot rely on some point of view or reasoning, the acceptance can be total, by definition, only if it is acceptance for the sake of acceptance and nothing more. Do maintain your blessed trust and belief by all means but always be sure that they are not used by the mind as considerations involved with your acceptance of a pain.

Pitfall no. 3 - Intermixing between "pain" and "suffer"

Be careful not to intermix between the meanings used of the terms "suffer" and "pain". Note again the difference between them: pain is a feeling, simply the sensing of something as painful (emotionally or physically), suffering is our mental response out of identification with the pain. They may look the same but they are not, you will see it when you stop resisting the pain, the pain is not you, it is there in your body or psyche, the suffering is you, its your chosen response. Grasping the fundamental difference between the two is the basis for understanding and implementing true acceptance.

avi's picture

Pitfall 4: Resisting out of clinging to the state of acceptance

It sounds confusing (resisting out of... acceptance), well, the ways of the tricky mind are sometimes very confusing...

When we totally accept "what is", at a certain point we feel so good, so peaceful and free.

Naturally, at that point, the mind wants to stay in this desirable state. How does it do it? In the only way it knows: by resisting undesirable feelings and restlessness.

Without noticing, we suddenly find ourselves instead of in state of total acceptance, in a state of total resistance.

Be constantly alert to make sure you haven't started, without noticing, to resist. Always ask yourself: Am I still in the state of indifference (to painful feelings) or am I trying to avoid (painful feelings) in an effort to preserve my serenity.

avi | Wed, 06/04/2008 - 18:22
shira's picture

Pitfall no. 5 - not accepting frustration from failed acceptance

It goes this way: you try to accept some feeling you currently have, your don't succeed so much, you get frustrated from failing to accept and try harder in order to defeat this failure.

On your way, you overlook the frustration and the feeling of failure which are so dominant there in the background of process and trying harder in order to defeat them you merely try to resist them.

In other words, while trying to accept one thing, you resist another theing (the frustration, the feeling of failure).

How to overcome this? stop the effort, stop the fighting, it is perfectly ok that sometimes you don't manage to accept just like this. Accept the possibility of you not being able to accept. Work on your acceptance but in parallel, make sure that when you fail in the very process of trying to accept, you accept your feeling of failure and frustration and do not try to combatthem.

As commented before (in pitfall 4), it may sound confusing unless checked against a real situation. Just check during the process of acceptance whether there is any feeling of failure, disappointment or frustration and if there is a such, make sure you don't fight it but accept it.

shira | Wed, 06/04/2008 - 23:01
john's picture

Pitfall 6: Dwelling too much in the acceptance

Usually when we truly accept a certain pain there is a pleasant sensation of relief. This sensation can be addictive especially after years of suffering and resisting the pain. Consequently without noticing we sometimes find ourselves stuck in the acceptance. This results at some point in aggravating the pain instead of eliminating it. Though the elimination of the pain should not be an objective of the acceptance, it is still unnecessary to have the pain if we can avoid it.

Make sure, you don't delay in the acceptance more than is needed. Accept fully the pain and move on.

john | Thu, 02/12/2009 - 22:15
Omkaradatta's picture


Why so much analysis of something so simple as acceptance? Simply let go of non-acceptance and remain in the moment.

Acceptance cannot be analyzed, categorized and picked apart into a rainbow of little bits and pieces for the mind. It's incredibly simple, *if you actually want to* accept, if you're ready to accept.

If you don't, it's impossible.

That's all.

Omkaradatta | Thu, 02/12/2009 - 22:39
john's picture

I don't see any analysis

When you truly adopt the path of total acceptance, you encounter so many pitfalls like the ones mentioned above. This is the nature of the mind to set tricky tricks for its survival. The above is an essential map to decipher these tricks, to set a contra to the mind's tricks. This contra is the main role of a human guru by the way.

Things are not complicated but not that simple as well - both extreme views are also tricks of the mind to preserve its control - do not overestimate the mind but do not underestimate it as well, open your eyes, be vigilant and you will notice manipulations you probably were not aware of before.

john | Thu, 02/12/2009 - 22:46
Omkaradatta's picture


Yes... I, John, will do all that ;-)


Omkaradatta | Thu, 02/12/2009 - 23:34
angel76's picture

In most cases, acceptance is not total

Easy and simple... but in reality, in most cases acceptance is evidently not total and many times it is not truly acceptance at all behind the masquerade.

This is not an analysis but an essential guiding tour: the mind plays tricks in order to combat the acceptance which is the complete opposite of its automatic reaction pattern, and these valuable notes based on the experience of the experienced are meant to recognize and remember the tricks in order not to fall in them. Very valuable.

angel76 | Sat, 09/26/2009 - 08:25
Quantum's picture

"Simply let go of

"Simply let go of non-acceptance and remain in the moment."

Brother, I tried. I can't. It's awful. I had a horrible Sunday morning that lasted into Monday, and didn't fizzle and pop out until Tuesday after 10am. Then I started to let go of my emotion grievance, and the problems that my grievances manifested(such as my car not starting, my computer not working right two mornings in a row, and other unpleasant events) stopped happening.

:It's incredibly simple, *if you actually want to* accept, if you're ready to accept.

If you don't, it's impossible."

So, by your comment, some deep part of my psyche, most likely my subconscious mind, is unwilling to accept. I need to script an Afformation and record it into my MP3 mixed with a metronome sound of 5 beats per second and listen to it all night long for the next 3 months for neuro linguistic programming so I can get my subconscious to buy into accepting.

Failing at this is so horrible, I dislike it very much. Things go well when things are well. But one negative emotion.. and BAM.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I will work on my subconscious mind reprogramming.

Regards, Om.

Quantum | Thu, 11/05/2009 - 17:57
Quantum's picture

Not easy to do all the time.

Either you can. Or you can't.

Simple as the instructions to: Lift 500 pounds over your head. Simple enough instructions.

Difficult: to actually do.

I agree with post above, that you either can or you can't.

I had some luck this morning when I got out of the car to buy something at the grocery store, then realized I forgot my cards at home. On the way back, I tried practicing acceptance. I wasn't as "bad off" as I used to be about it.

Later this evening, something "unpleasant" came over me, not really sure what triggered the negative energy. Perhaps I'm turning psychic again and picking up energies from people. Oh man. I had to sit in the car when I got home to meditate and dissolve the bad energy. I tried practicing acceptance on the way home, but it didn't work so well as this morning. Had to sit in the car for maybe 20-30 minutes before the trapped energy was released, and I felt better.

(by the way, I wonder if meditation is what Jesus did in the Garden of gethsemane to release his negative emotions of fear, because as teh story goes, he came out of it to face his fate with acceptance.)

Quantum | Thu, 09/24/2009 - 06:31
kaput's picture

It's the easiest thing to do

It's easier than anything. The difficulty is only in the beginning when the mind needs to adapt to a new reaction pattern, The "fight the pain" mode is so engraved in it that it takes time until you are able to truly totally accept pains. Soon, the mind will play all sorts of tricks not to really accept while pretending that you do accept. The listing of the tricks here is therefore very important.

kaput | Thu, 09/24/2009 - 06:44
Quantum's picture


"Soon, the mind will play all sorts of tricks not to really accept while pretending that you do accept."

This is where I am.

I'll keep you posted. How long is it gonna take, 6 months? One year? I wanna put it on my chart so I can forecast my estimated of arrival to enlightenment.


Pax Dei Vobiscum

Quantum | Thu, 09/24/2009 - 18:44
Quantum's picture

Left Brain, Right Brain Model

How come nobody talks about all this stuff in terms of the left brain (analytical, logic) right brain intuition, feeling, art, music)? That model was lost in memory for years until last night and this morning's meditation. Now, I see being "disconnected" and "noise" as the left hemisphere trying to assert itself and assume dominance over the right. This model works for me.

I remembered an old fairy I was told as a little kid that the devil is on your left side speaking into your left ear, while the angel is on your right speaking to your right ear. Sort of like the old Flintstones cartoon depiction.

Anyway.. happy weekend. Happy hemispheres integrating.

Quantum | Sat, 09/26/2009 - 18:04
Quantum's picture

edit feature?

PS: Is there anyway to edit our posts after posting them? I find typos only after submitting. Darned irritating, I tell ya! (Yoda: "Now now... practice acceptance, Quantum, practice acceptance. Theyre's just typos.")


Quantum | Sat, 09/26/2009 - 18:07
Toltec Logic's picture

Laws of Spirit

Sometimes entire years may pass
before we understand the meaning
of life lessons but that doesn't
mean it wasn't worth the effort
or the lack there of as the
case may be...

“The practice of virtue is

the study of body and mind,

nature and life. It is a very

refined and subtle science,

in which the slightest deviation

can produce an enormous loss.

It can be accomplished only

by constancy and consistency,

thoroughly investigating

its principles, fulfilling nature

and arriving at the meaning of life.”

The Taoist I Ching

Great perfect mirror
awakening is
not an idea
but a time when
the knowing essence
becomes manifest

Toltec Logic | Sat, 01/30/2010 - 22:58