Acceptance and patience are very much related because both are about allowing what is to be there without judging or responding to it.
If you experience anger and you accept it, you are patient with it.
Patience is the most effective antidote to anger. Look at it this way: If anger is like poison from a venomous snake, patience is the anti-venom that can heal you and keep you alive.
Letâ€™s say that someone pushed your buttons and criticized you. You feel the anger rising; your mind and body are quickly getting ready to defend, justify, blame, and attack. What would be patient look like in this situation?
Patience has a quality of enormous honesty in it, but it also has a quality of not escalating things, allowing a lot of space for the other person to say what they want to say while you listen. You donâ€™t react to what youâ€™re feeling, even though inside you are reacting.
You let the words go and just be there. When you practice patience, youâ€™re not repressing anger; youâ€™re just sitting there with it – going cold turkey with the aggression.
You will really get to know anger and how it breeds violent words and actions. You will see the whole thing without acting it out… and you will be cultivating enormous courage.
Being patient has nothing to do with suppressing anger. Patience means that you are honest about the fact that you are angry. At the same time, youâ€™re doing nothing to feed your angry feelings and thoughts.
You donâ€™t get involved with them or react to them. You donâ€™t argue with them. You also donâ€™t blame or criticize yourself for having them. You just let go of that whole internal dialogue.
Acceptance and patience are ultimately about choices you make every day. There is no guarantee that acceptance will carry over from one anger episode to the next. Itâ€™s a choice you need to make again and again.
After a while it may seem like almost every moment of your life youâ€™re making a choice: to open or close, to harden or soften, to hold on or let go. If the old pattern of closing, hardening, and holding on to resentment has not worked for you, itâ€™s to open up, soften, and let go.
Debunking Myths About Acceptance
Many people misunderstand what is meant by acceptance as it relates to anger.
Myth 1: Acceptance Means Condoning Wrongdoing
This is probably the biggest misconception about acceptance. People worry that when they accept, they give approval to what is happening or what has happened to them.
Acceptance is not about approving, liking, or condoning what is happening or what has happened in the past. Acceptance is a matter of acknowledging and experiencing what has happened without judging.
Acceptance does not mean you sit still when someone hurts you. If anyone harms you now, you have every right to protect yourself from further harm and do what it takes to be safe.
Yet, holding on to old pain about past situations will never resolve those situations. They are in the past, and you are in the present. You cannot change the past; you can only change how you respond to the past in the present.
Myth 2: Acceptance is Weakness
Acceptance takes courage and strength. When compared to the tendency to give in or blow up, acceptance is the harder path to follow. Noticing anger and the full strength of the emotion without acting it out is like riding a tiger.
You may notice your mind criticizing and blaming both others and yourself. You may also notice feeling guilty about blaming when you â€œshouldâ€ be accepting. It can be agonizing, because you feel bad about being so anger at the same time that you really are angry, and you canâ€™t drop it.
Sitting with this energy and edginess without trying to suppress it or make it go away is the opposite of weakness.
Staying with the anger and pain without acting on it or because of it is one of the most difficult things you will ever do. This decision is courageous, honest, open, compassionate, and empowering because it is liberating.
Myth 3: Acceptance Means Liking My Experience
It feels uncomfortable to experience anger, fear, insecurity, and hurt. Acceptance is not about liking those feelings. It is a matter of no longer fighting with your experience or denying its reality.
Itâ€™s like dropping the rope in a tug-of-war match. Once youâ€™re no longer fighting the anger team, you free up energy to create the life you want to live.
Myth 4: Acceptance is a Feeling
When you accept your experience, you respond differently to it. This is not just a feeling – itâ€™s a stance that will completely change your point of view. Itâ€™s stepping back from your experience to develop a new way of relating with it thatâ€™s guided by the kindness you have tucked away inside of you.
For example, when you practice the suggested exercises, you observe your anger and other feelings without judging, suppressing, or getting rid of them. Itâ€™s like looking at your experiences as if they were playing out in a movie.
Youâ€™re not the movie, but the observer of what is happening in the movie. Such skillful observation of life in the present moment, without judgment and with compassion, is an active response – just not in the way we usually think of being active.
Acceptance is a new posture toward your experiences where you allow them to simply be as they are.
Myth 5: Acceptance Means Diminished Responsibility
Acceptance is the highest form of responsibility you can take. By acknowledging and allowing your unwanted thoughts and emotions to be there rather than letting them dictate what you do, you actually increase your responsibility or ability to take charge of your life.
Myth 6: Acceptance is a Clever Way to Manage Discomfort
Acceptance cannot prevent the pain of losing a loved one or getting hurt by another person. Feeling this type of pain is normal. No human being can escape such pain. It happens to all of us and is simply a function of living.
However, acceptance can prevent pain from turning into suffering. Pain turns into suffering when you donâ€™t accept the pain and hurt, when you donâ€™t acknowledge your pain, or when you struggle to get rid of it by lashing out at someone.
Just like the old Chinese finger traps you may have played with as a kid, the discomfort increases the more you try to pull away from it.
It is this unnecessary suffering that mindful acceptance seeks to end. By practicing mindful acceptance, you can gradually teach yourself to be less reactive to your evaluative mind and stay with emotional pain, rather than running away or trying to fix it.
When the pain of anger shows up and you allow it in without struggle or reaction, you are free to act in ways that matter to you.
The goal is to develop a place of calm above the storm, to promote health and vitality, and to foster caring kindness toward yourself first and then extend that to others.