Psychologist Graham W Price, developer of Acceptance-Action Training and Acceptance-Action Therapy (AAT), suggests we’re all crazy. He points out that all dissatisfaction, upset, stress, regret, disappointment, frustration, irritation or any other negative thought, with one exception, involves wanting something to be ‘already’ different. Either we’re wanting something that’s happened not to have happened, or we’re wanting a situation that exists right now not to exist right now. Neither is possible. He rests his case.
The only exception is worrying about the future. Price claims that’s pretty crazy too. More on this later.
Resisting what is
Price says most people are generally aware that the past cannot be changed and that it makes sense to accept it. Yet we may still spend a great deal of time and energy wishing it were different. If we’re regretting a mistake we’ve made, we’re wishing we hadn’t made it. If someone has said or done something we’re not happy about we’re effectively wanting them not to have said or done it. In both cases we’re wanting the past to be different.
Even those who understand that the past cannot be changed and should be accepted, may not be so aware that the present cannot be changed either, says Price. We may be able to change the next moment or any future moment but we can never undo what already is. Yet most people spend a great deal of time and energy wanting the present to be different too. If my flight has been cancelled and I’m unhappy about this, I’m wanting my situation to be different right now. Nothing can ever be different right now.
Another term for wanting things to be ‘already’ different, is ‘resisting what is’. Price notes that all dissatisfaction, except worrying about the future, involves ‘resisting what is’.
Accepting what is
The opposite of resistance is acceptance. The opposite of ‘resisting what is’ is called ‘accepting what is’. ‘Accepting what is’ simply means not wishing things were already different. Price notes that people who ‘accept what is’ all the time are highly resilient. They’re never dissatisfied and never maintain thoughts that may have triggered momentary upset, disappointment or irritation. They just focus on what needs to be done to change or improve things in the next moment or the future.
Practicing ‘accepting what is’ can eliminate stress from our lives. If my boss is putting pressure on me to meet a challenging deadline, and I’m unhappy or stressed about this, I’m ‘resisting what is’. By contrast ‘accepting what is’ might involve saying to myself “this is the situation I’m in right now and I’ll gain nothing by wishing it were already different. I can focus instead on what I can do about it … meet the deadline, change the deadline or change my boss”.
Accepting what will be
A variation can be applied to the future, so eliminating worry from our lives. When we’re worried we’re always wanting something to be different in the future from the way we think it might be … AND we believe we cannot control it. If we believed we could control it, we wouldn’t be worried. Wanting something to be different that we cannot control is as irrational as wanting something to be already different. Once we recognise this we can drop the worrying thought and focus only on how we can gain more control, or accept the future to the extent that we cannot control it.
You might think dropping negative thoughts sounds challenging. Price says it becomes easier when we acknowledge that such thoughts are irrational. If the thought returns, he suggests we go through the process again. He also suggests we start with smaller issues, like burnt toast, red traffic lights, missed trains. Then build up to bigger things.
Dealing with feelings
Uncomfortable feelings or emotions get in the way of ‘accepting what is’. It’s unrealistic to expect to engage in any type of rational thinking when we’re upset, angry, anxious or experiencing any other emotion. Price says we can wait for emotions to subside before accepting what is. But he also teaches how to deal with uncomfortable feelings though acceptance and taking action to resolve recurring limiting feelings.
Price has also developed a therapy called Acceptance-Action Therapy (AAT) that uses similar tools to resolve emotional and behavioural problems such as anxiety, depression, OCD, anger problems, addictions and eating disorders. He also uses the tools in weight loss programmes.
Price’s company, Abicord, runs Acceptance-Action Trainings for the public in London and organisations nation-wide.
Abicord offers a seminar in London costing £20.00 that teaches how to accept what is. The seminar is also available on DVD, please see www.abicord.com for more information. Price’s e-books, therapy, coaching, weight loss and smoking cessations are also available through the website.
Price’s book ‘What Is, Is! The Power of Positive Acceptance’, published by Hothive, is based on his training and can be purchased here:
A free preview can be downloaded at www.what-is-is.com.
Graham W Price
Graham W Price is the CEO of Abicord and its sister company Body-Mind Training. He is a Chartered Psychologist, CBT and AAT specialist, chartered member of the British Psychological Society (BPS), accredited member of the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), personal and executive coach, personal development trainer, stress management consultant, author and professional speaker. Contact: email@example.com; phone: 0207 858 2241, web: www.abicord.com