In our last blog we looked at Resentment, a powerful mood/emotion that is created by not accepting what is. This time, let’s look at the antidote to this toxic and unproductive emotion. Remember the scenario? It went like this: Something happened that you could not control and negatively affected your big project; your boss responded with something unflattering about your leadership style and/or your ability to deliver; your whole team got negative feedback from a senior leader about the missed deadline. Instantly you were mad, your thoughts were that this is totally unfair. You felt personally attacked, and that the bosses should have recognized that you could not meet the deadline for obvious reasons.
Sounds like you are carrying a heavy load of Resentment. But what if you choose to take a different path? Instead of fighting what happened, you simply accept it. Notice, I did not say that you like what happened, you simply accept what happened. This is the genesis of the mood/emotion of Acceptance. The details of what happened are not important – it is your reaction that you have control over. Acceptance allows you to now focus your energies on what you can do within the context of what has happened. What are the conversations that you must engage in with your boss to rectify the situation? You can now focus on conversations with your team to keep them from being triggered or re-triggered by the negative comments. By letting go of anger and resentment you are free to create a positive future out of the current situation.
Again, I invite you to become an ontological observer (ontology- the study of being human) and look at three areas where Acceptance can manifest itself:
1) Language – The internal conversation that we have when we are in Acceptance is something like this, “X has happened, and I may not like it or agree with it, but I accept it. I will now move forward with whatever is possible given the current reality.”
2) The Body – When we are in the mood/emotion of Acceptance we do not have stress and negative energy built up due to our resistance to what has happened, instead our body can be relaxed and open to whatever comes our way. Our breathing is deep, relaxed, and even. Our body does not tense up when we encounter a person who was involved in the incident. Our senses are open and alert for constructive possibilities on the horizon.
3) Behavioral Disposition – This is the behavior or actions we are likely going to take based on the emotion we are currently experiencing. Acceptance does necessarily put us in a state of desire to take action; we can do nothing, or spend our energy focusing on communication that will improve the situation, relationships and help our team move forward.
You do not have to like something to accept it. The power of living in acceptance is that it allows us to live in peace. Notice, I bet you have very little emotion or tension around the fact that your favorite sports team lost a game to its rival last season. You let it go. Now, go explore those places in your life where you need more Acceptance; all human relationships will give you a lot of opportunities. The freedom of acceptance is that it gives you the space and energy to take on a new project or challenge – you are not trapped and burdened by Resentment. And, if you are still really burning over the fact that your team lost two years ago, you might want to re-read these blogs on Resentment and Acceptance!