The Covid-19 pandemic has swept across the world significantly impacting us in many ways. For a great many of us, this will be the biggest disruptor we ever experience in our lifetime.

The real-life challenges vary greatly depending on our individual circumstances; we’re not all in the same boat, but we are in the same storm. For some of us, the impact of this pandemic is indeed devastating. Notwithstanding the very real effect our external world has on us, we know that our ability to be adaptable and flexible in the face of adversity is linked with our ability to accept reality as it is. From a position of acceptance, we can find a greater calm and freedom to choose.

Have you found yourself overwhelmed due to the challenges that this virus has presented us? Have you been self-critical about how you are coping? Or about how unproductive you feel? Have you felt frustration and anger at the decisions being made by people in power? I certainly have! The degree of this has varied from day to day, sometimes even moment to moment. Family, friends and clients have also expressed the same to me. We are certainly not alone; our common humanity unites us.

So, how can acceptance help?

For some people, the idea of acceptance is associated with a negative, a defeat or resignation. Does acceptance of a situation mean that we give up and feel helpless? Absolutely not.

One of the realities we face in our human life is that there can always be challenge, difficulty and adversity just ahead of us. Think about your own life: how many things have happened that may not have been your choosing or your desire? Think about times where you have had to accept something whether you liked it or not. A change in job role; not getting a promotion, or being made redundant; a rejection from someone you loved; not getting a loan you needed; losing out on holiday; just missing your train, or getting stuck in traffic. If you really think about it, you might be able to identify multiple examples that can happen even in just one day.

Our ability to accept challenge and adversity as part of life can determine how adaptable and flexible we are. It is the management of our emotional responses that arise in relation to the ‘unacceptable’ event or situation that gives us the key to our resilience. People who have mastered the mindset of acceptance are the people that get up again after they have fallen. They are the resilient ones that keep going.

How do we cultivate acceptance?

Mindfulness is the moment by moment non-judgmental awareness of what is arising in our minds and bodies. The more we accept and have a curiosity about our reactions, our emotions and thoughts, the more insight we have into ourselves.

The next time you feel thwarted in some way try to use this as an opportunity to slow the breath, observe and allow your feelings and thoughts to be there. You don't need to do anything with them, you're just observing and accepting them. If we start to judge, evaluate and struggle, thinking that ‘we shouldn't be feeling this way’ or ‘this shouldn't happen’, we might start to fuse with our emotions and lose a sense of clarity about the reality as it is.

If we can be accepting of our emotions and accepting of the situation there can often be an easing in the body. With true acceptance, we can find a calmness and a peace. From this state of mind, we are much more likely to find helpful ways of coping with the adversity in front of us. We're more likely to act with a wise mind.

At YVMT we are passionate about helping people cultivate their best self to be flexible, adaptable, resilient and happy. We like to draw on the awe of nature to help you access the mindful audios that are carefully scripted to give you a bitesize piece of coaching.

When talking about acceptance, nature can be a great teacher. If you were lying in a field looking up at the sky and watching the clouds go by, you’re likely to find it peaceful to just observe and accept those moment to moment changes. You wouldn’t get cross or frustrated that the clouds aren't forming the particular shapes that you want to see.

Yet, that is what we often do in our life. If we can accept the sky and nature as it is, then let’s try and apply that to ourselves. Imagine you are the sky and your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations are the clouds. Accepting them rather than being cross with them can lead to a much greater sense of ease and calm.

If you want to develop and cultivate your own acceptance and, therefore, adaptability, why not choose our new Acceptance audio with your choice of nature scene.

About the Author

Dr Ashleigh McLellanDr Ashleigh McLellan

Ashleigh is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with 20 years’ experience in the NHS. She is trained in a broad range of psychological models and specialises in Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT).