This article is an excerpt from “Give a F*ck, Really: Reclaim Yourself with the 5 Steps of Radical Emotional Acceptance” by Alex Wills. Copyright © 2023. Available from Skyhorse Publishing.
As a western boy, I felt like a “show child” at times. There is a seed of truth in the American myth of the taciturn and emotionally taciturn cowboy. As a child, I received the subtle, sometimes unsubtle message that certain emotions, especially sadness and anger, are off limits. I didn’t think it was a good idea to raise your voice or bite back when your tail was pulled like a German Shepherd. I remember him making a sad face and being scolded to “Cheer up” and “Don’t be silly!”
It really takes a village to emotionally repress a child.
Now, we celebrate all the richest emotions in life, even the most complex ones, such as jealousy and fear of success. Most people say they fear failure, but if you take a hard-boiled view of human behavior, you might find that far more people avoid success. My childhood currency in a close-knit community was a good fit. Inconspicuous. I was afraid of the “brilliance” enough to lose my friends. I was afraid of becoming a tall poppy in a bright red field.
All my emotions point me towards a deeper truth about myself and my relationship, a better way to live. And “all” is the effective word. Guys and their dogs teach you to be grateful for the things you love. It’s easy to appreciate good health and loving relationships.
But do you know what’s really transformative? Appreciate all the things you hate. Appreciating difficult emotions, people, and situations is much harder than ecstatic journaling about the pot-o-gold inheritance you inherited from your great-aunt Marge. Hard, but ultimately more rewarding. Valuing the emotions that our brains label as “negative” brings us to peace.
The trick is: Even in the midst of grief, you can always return to a place of peace if you are grateful for everything that happens to you. Gratitude for our problems, ‘negative’ emotions, and pain returns us to our own personal cinema leather recliners.when you’re trying to fast-forward, or Bypass emotionally, a difficult one. We stay full ride. Tragedy and triumph.
We all start with the assumption that pain is bad. But have you ever been around someone who was born without pain receptors? This rare condition is called congenital painless pain (CIPA). He is affected at a rate of 1 in 1 million people. From birth, people with CIPA feel no pain in any part of their body when injured. Sound like a green turtle from heaven and a bottle on a feather bed?
Think again.Not being able to feel pain is a huge extra lump of suffering in life. CIPA is unimaginably dangerous. In most cases, a person in this deplorable condition does not live beyond the age of 25. If they live to be 25, they are usually disfigured by fractures, burns, and other scarring. Imagine that scenario repeating over and over, perhaps over decades. it’s not clean.
I write in this spirit, pain is good. It’s a formidable Taskmaster for sure, but as far as we’ve learned from it, it’s in our best interest to feel the pain. One day the sharp wooden corner of our coffee table is her wisest teacher.Sometimes she cries, but more often than not she laughs at the stupidity of her falls. At Theater of Life, children naturally love to learn from cause and effect. What scholars call “experiential learning” and what parents call “echo”. This is how my baby girl will navigate the world and learn to trust herself.
By practicing Radical Emotional Acceptance (REA), you can get more out of life than you ever thought possible.
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We all need to experience unconditional love. I call it a need because if it is not met, we experience mental, emotional, and physical symptoms and experience addiction to our favorite drugs. All the mental health issues we have are due, on some level, to not being loved unconditionally. Parents, friends and most importantly yourself.
The underlying emotional acceptance is self-love.Rare is how Loving Yourself: A Field Guide to Validating Your Feelings and Desires. And here’s another big secret. Giving yourself the experience of being loved unconditionally is a choice. We can choose to receive only unconditional love in our relationships, and we can choose to love ourselves unconditionally.
When we realize this noble truth, our eyes are opened to reality. This universe is filled with unconditional love for all of us. We just have to reach for it, dare we say it—embrace it.