In this week’s episode of UnBroken, Dr Rachel gives you a framework for acceptance, which is the ultimate key to all transformation. Choosing self-acceptance can free up massive amounts of energy that can be caught up in the futility of comparison, less-thanism and constant critique. This episode raises some interesting questions that you can ask yourself to begin the process of self-reflection, to see where you can increase your levels of self-acceptance, and how to shake off the shackles of perfectionism and ‘fitting in’ which keep you playing small.
Key Insights From This Episode
- Acceptance is not a passive situation, acceptance is actually quite active.
- Once we start to actively embrace everything that is going on, and to view it through objective eyes, we can actually start seeing what could be the cause of our discomfort.
- Let’s start being honest about how we feel about ourselves. Are we basing our acceptance of self on comments that were made when we were children?
- What is acceptable is denoted to us within a set of often unwritten rules that we all adhere to, because this is how we’ve lived. This is what we’ve been told since before we’ve even had awareness.
- Look at what you were exposing your senses to. Is it toxic or is it a tonic?
- We need to start actually observing ourselves and start really loving difference. Difference is so important. Difference is what brings innovation and creativity.
- There’s nothing as interesting as hearing somebody else’s opinion that you’ve never even considered before.
- Human beings need human beings. We need to connect.
- It’s pretty difficult to make choices when you have a restricted internal world. When you have a narrow viewpoint of what life is.
- Once we start to actively embrace acceptance, once we stop comparing and start celebrating, understand the conditioning, start to make the connections, then we start to have very different choices.
- We might behave in a certain way, but we are not our behaviours. We are so much more than that.
LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE OF THE (UN)BROKEN PODCAST HERE
About Our Host
Dr Rachel Taylor
Dr Rachel Taylor is a neuroscientist with decades of experience exploring, discovering and solving everyday challenges faced by many, as well as listening to and telling the stories of people she comes across in her endeavour to show difference is good, trauma is endemic and joy is connection. She started UnBroken as she wanted to highlight that the system is broken not people and uses the UnBroken podcast to share her learnings, honest conversations and words of wisdom with the UnBroken Tribe of listener.
UnBroken is founded upon the belief that the environment in which we were born, grew in, live in, work in, play in and rest in has a huge impact on how well we believe we are and how well we perform. Wellbeing and optimal human performance are not simply about the absence of disease, they are about the ability to live purposefully, intentionally, joyfully and freely.
UnBroken provides a range of supportive online resources including a podcast, blog, apothecary and monthly online membership for people who dare to be different, are open to possibilities and want a different pathway to their own version of success.
Dr Rachel: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the UnBroken Podcast. Today I want to talk about something that’s really, really important. Something that I don’t think we do talk about enough. I don’t think we do enough of it. And I think it’s a real issue, for many people across all walks of life. So today we’re going to talk about the A, B and four C’s of acceptance.
Now acceptance is one of the principles within UnBroken, and acceptance is often really hard for people to accept. And what we’re talking about in terms of the UnBroken world is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation. Acceptance is recognising a process or a condition, an emotion, a situation. And this can quite often be sort of an uncomfortable situation, without attempting to change it, protest at it or exit it.
And this is so important because until we have acceptance, until we sort of, understand where we are and why we are and how we are, then it becomes really difficult for us to actually move past that. We are surrounded constantly by, comparison, contrast, which naturally compels us to reject and not accept.
And acceptance is not a passive situation, acceptance is actually quite active. When we’re talking about acceptance, it’s not a passive resignation about anything. We’re literally talking bravery and courage and objectivity and truth and honesty. Especially when we’re looking at a situation or feeling a situation that we don’t like. And when we accept it, we want to then work wisely and effectively to direct ourselves out of it and change what can be changed and be okay with acceptance of the things that cannot be changed.
We are often told that we need to change. You know, it’s all about us. We need to continually change, continually assess and continually not accept ourselves.
What if just for once, what if I just asked you to put that to one side and actually think “it’s my environment that I have to change. It’s something in my environment that I need to change first and foremost”. So just think about that.
I did talk about the A, B and four C’s of acceptance. So let’s start with the A, shall we? Let’s start with this Actively Embracing of subjective experience.
This is really interesting. Quite often I do an assessment of the environment. I do an assessment of what everybody is experiencing, the marketing that’s going on, the messaging that’s going on. One of the key messages that we are all subjected to is that we do not need to feel pain. Instead we can buy coping strategies, distraction strategies, and this will all take the pain away. And it’s all focused on taking pain away, not dealing with the roots of the pain, but taking the pain away. And this takes me back to a few years ago, three years ago, in fact, and I was admitted into hospital. Because I was in intense pain. I actually thought I had pulled a muscle in my stomach. I’d done my weights at the gym, thought I’d pulled a muscle in my stomach, and it got so bad that I actually had to take myself off to Accident and Emergency. So I was in pain. First thing that I got offered was something to take the pain away. And then I was on a bed, administered morphine. And then I was in the hospital system.
What transpired after that was pain management, rather than try to get to the root of the problem. Rather than try to see why it was in pain, as somebody who previously hadn’t experienced pain, suddenly started feeling pain.
And there was a whole host of pain management. Upping my pain relief, trying different things out, and all the while I am complaining and sort of saying “I don’t just want pain management, I want you to get to the root of the pain. I want to know why I’m in pain. I want to know what’s causing this pain.”
And so long story short, after having to advocate for myself, and assert my own understanding of my body, that this wasn’t normal for me, that pain wasn’t normal. Finally, I was given a CT scan where it was discovered that had a twisted bowel, and I literally had to be blue lighted to the nearest hospital, which had a bowel specialist to actually sort that twisted bowel out. And there’s so much more that I can tell you about that story. So much more, but what was really important is that, we have got so used to it, as a society. We just want to take the pain away. Well, sometimes we need to feel that pain and we need to objectively look at the cause of that pain to be able to actively embrace the situation that we are.
And that’s really important for us to do. I can’t reiterate that enough. That once we start to actively embrace everything that is going on, and to view it through those objective eyes, we can actually start seeing what could be the cause of our discomfort. What could be the cause of our pain? What could be the root of all of what we were experiencing, that isn’t what we might want to experience.
And that’s what we’re talking about with that Active Embracing of subjective experience. Part of this is being objective about unrealistic expectations of perfection. That we are who we are, we are whole. We have this ability to acknowledge and appreciate oneself because if we don’t do it, then nobody else will.
Having that active ability to be able to reflect, to look at ourselves, to look at our position in life, to look at why we’ve got to where we’ve got to and how we’ve got to do it. Having a good understanding of that. The ability to detect our own thoughts, our feelings and our beliefs.
You know, we are unique. Can you disentangle yourself away from the public domain, from the general masses, from the emotions of everybody else? Are you able to sort of say, “this is me, this is who I am. And I’m amazing in all my glorious imperfections.” Have you got the ability to observe yourself in the moment at that very point in time?
And can you actively embrace any kind of self compassion within that? We spoke before about compassion easing suffering. Can you recognise your own suffering and pain? Can you be more kind, can you be more supportive? Can you experience any kind of warm and tender, nurturing feelings towards yourself?
This is all the active embracing of subjective experience. Everything that happens to us is happening to us. We might be in a similar context, we might be experiencing the same event. But our own experience will be unique to us. Remember, you are the experts on you. You need to remember this.
I cannot tell you how you are feeling. I cannot tell you what you are experiencing. I cannot tell you what you are thinking. I can support you. I can hold you. I can create a calm space for you, but I cannot be an expert on you. Because you are the expert on you.
Which leads me to B. Be honest, really honest about yourself.
You are okay. You are more than okay. You are amazing. When I’m embracing the acceptance of myself, the active embracing of subjective experience, I want to be really honest about it. Be honest. And the issue here is that we often want to discount our own feelings. We often compare with what others are doing.
We often find ourselves either completely less than, or “at least I’m not as bad as that person”. Let’s take everybody else out of this experience of acceptance. Let’s really focus on self-acceptance. I want to tell you that acceptance is mainly dominated by the limbic system on the amygdala in the brain.
So the limbic system is completely wrapped up in emotional experiential domains. It’s where we generate our emotional reactions, where we feel things, self-centered emotional needs. This is really important to consider here, in the amygdala our little filter of, “is that going to harm us? Is that going to kill us? Is that going to cause any kind of loss, any kind of damage to us?” We really need to start considering all of that because acceptance is mainly dominated by these systems. So very much an emotional feedback system and we generally gain that feedback, how we feel about things from childhood experiences, which are then applied through the rest of the life.
So let’s start being honest about that. Let’s start being honest about how we feel about ourselves. Are we basing our acceptance of self on comments that were made when we were children? By experiences that we had when we were children? By that throw a comment made by a teacher, 10, 20, 30 years ago, that’s still affecting us today?
Are we filtering all our experiences through the experiences of a six year old, a seven year old, an eight year old? Older, 12, 13, 14? Be honest, where is that coming from? Is it serving us positive purpose now to keep on utilising childhood experiences? And this is where acceptance can be such a cathartic experience.
We can really get down to ground zero with this. We can only do this though when we have time. When we have time to rest. When we have time to recuperate, when we are not having our senses stimulated by shiny blinking, bright lights. By distracting messages, by an environment that is completely focused on taking us away from ourselves and making us into reactionary, human beings who are tempted to do A, B or C to get quick results, X, Y, or Z, which is promised to us by marketing departments.
We need to be clear about this. I’m going to be honest with you now, and you be honest with yourselves. Do you give yourselves the time to actively accept yourself and be honest? And when was the last time that you were really honest with you? And I don’t mean that critical voice, the critical self that is demeaning you, putting you down. I mean having a really honest appraisal about who you are, where you are, and why you are the way you are.
So there we go, we’ve got A and B in the bag there. We move on to the four C’s. The first C I wanted to talk about is Conditioning. And conditioning is all around us. We have the cultural conditioning, societal conditioning, conditioning from within our families, within our education system, the conditioning that tells us that we need to believe in certain things. We need to act in a certain way. We need to have a certain thought process. We need to be a certain way. What is acceptable is denoted to us within a set of often unwritten rules that we all adhere to, because this is how we’ve lived. This is what we’ve been told since before we’ve even had awareness.
This is what we’ve had awareness of before we even knew what awareness was. And this is so important. So when we’re looking at conditioning, look at the messaging that is all around you. Is it supportive? Is it fearful? Does it make you feel good about yourself, or does it make you feel bad about yourself?
Look at what you were exposing your senses to. Is it toxic or is it a tonic? Conditioning is so important because we often sleep walk through life. And we’re not really aware on a conscious level of what we are exposing ourselves to. Let’s start to be conscious of that. Have conscious conditioning. Start being open to the idea, the notion that we are being moulded in a certain way, we are being funnelled down a certain path. And unless we are actively conscious of this, we’ll do it without even thinking. We will channel down into that route by pure habituation. We might be shocked by something once, but after it’s happened once the second, third, fourth, fifth time, it’s going to become habitual.
It’s going to become a habit, and we’re not going to notice any difference. We’re going to become desensitised to things, but it’s still going to affect those on an unconscious level. So when we’re talking about acceptance, we have to look at the messaging around us. The messaging will be targeted at our limbic system and our amygdala.
It will be targeted at our survival portion of the brain as well. You know, our old reptilian brain. We need to understand this because once we can, we can start having an objective viewpoint of the subjective matter that’s all around. So the stuff that is there to generate emotion, when we get emotionally invested in a film or in a series or in a story, that’s what is happening. Our emotions are being played with, are being toyed and we are responding.
Once we are aware of that, we can choose how we want to respond. We can choose how to see it. If we don’t notice that it will go into our subconscious and we will respond anyway, without ourselves even thinking. We are better to have conscious response than unconscious response.
And just think about that. So that’s the first C there – conditioning. This brings me to the second C – Comparison. Social comparison, since 1954 when the first social comparison theory was developed. It’s something that is a phenomenon. We will compare upwards. So we will compare with people that we think are better than us.
And, you know, we’ll remember our place then. We all compare downwards and think “well, at least I’m not as bad as they are”. We we’ll see this in the media. We will see this in social media. We will see this everywhere, all around. We compare, constantly. And we have to be really, really careful that we don’t actually compare and that makes us feel bad about ourselves.
We need to start actually observing ourselves and start really loving difference. Difference is so important. Difference is what brings innovation and creativity. It’s a difference that can cause all the interest. So when we’re comparing and contrasting, we should actually be looking and celebrating those differences. Not rejecting ourselves.
Not seeing somebody as favourable, so accepted. Not saying, “oh, I am better than they are, so therefore I can accept myself”. We need to accept the here and now and actually stop that comparison. Celebrate difference, celebrate how we are different, celebrate your uniqueness, your nuances, the bits that make you, you. Because they will be what people love about you.
Those little glimpse of that originality that no one else can have because it’s you, and you alone. So let’s stop the comparison roundabout. Let’s just actually celebrate difference and just accept that we all have nuances and that’s what makes us unique. That what makes us marvellous, that’s what makes you amazing.
Remember, you are the expert on you. You will know where your talents lie. You will know what makes you different. Celebrate that. So instead of having the comparison, let’s have the celebration. Let’s knock the comparison out of the ballpark and instead put celebration in its place. Let’s accept individuality and celebrate that fact.
And if we can do that, then we’ll start to get the third C, that Connection. Connection is so important. Some of the most wonderful research that I’ve ever done is around the emotion, joy. And for me, joy is all about connection. We can map joy on a premature baby’s face. It’s been born and it has the ability to show joy in his face when it’s close to its primary carer.
That, for me, shows so much. We know that the neurotransmitter oxytocin underpins the functionality of joy. Connection and oxytocin is the ultimate connecting hormone neurotransmitter. It’s what makes us feel affinity with a group. It’s what makes us feel like we belong. We are valued. We matter. It inspires plasticity in the brain so it can experience open, newness and learning and growth.
So connection is on so many different levels. We need to connect with ourselves. And acceptance is huge in that. Connect to who we are, what we stand for, what our integrity is all about, what we value, what we believe, and what we believe to be different. My beliefs can be different to your beliefs, you know?
My thought process can be different to your thought process. There’s nothing as interesting as hearing somebody else’s opinion that you’ve never even considered before. Somebody else’s thought process that is completely new. Something that has not been around before. Be open to that, because that will connect you.
Then we connect with others. We have the connection with our tribe. We have connection with people we love, we have the connection with people that we work with. We have connection when we have shared values. We have connections where we live and appreciate the same neighborhoods, the same community, the same area.
We have connection with people in such a unique way. Human beings need human beings. We need to connect. We need that. It’s no good trying to pretend otherwise. We have to have that connection, that face to face, hand to hand, hug to hug connection. That’s what makes us uniquely human beings. That’s part of our makeup.
We need to have that sociality. Once we’ve got the acceptance, the connection. Once people understand and unraveled our conditioning, once we’ve stopped comparing full stop and started celebrating difference, then we will realise that we have more choices. That’s the fourth C – Choices.
It’s pretty difficult to make choices when you have a restricted internal world. When you have a narrow viewpoint of what life is. When there doesn’t appear to be any choices. When we are told what we need to be, how we need to be, who we need to be. And that’s part of the UnBroken message.
UnBroken it’s for people who are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain an active normality in a world that is increasingly abnormal. You are not the broken ones. The system is broken, the environment is broken. But once we start to have this awareness and this acceptance of self, once we start to actively embrace acceptance, once we stop comparing and start celebrating, understand the conditioning, start to make the connections, then we start to have very different choices.
And at that point you can choose who you want to be. You can be anybody that you want to be. It’s not for anybody else to decide. You can be you, whoever that may be. And I think it can be quite surprising when we start to actually acknowledge who we can be, the potential that we have. The possibilities that occur when we stop putting unacceptance at the heart of everything, when we stop criticising. When we stop comparing, when we stop really putting ourselves down. When we realise the cages in which we are kept in, when we have rules in society that make no sense to us, that aren’t logical, that are there to confuse and keep us down.
We need to start having the confidence and accepting that we actually are the expert on ourselves. We might speak to other people who have years of expertise, wisdom, knowledge, qualifications, and they might be tools that we might use in the endeavour to create the life that we want. But we should never, ever forget that we are the experts on ourselves. You are the expert on you. And once you accept that and you accept who you are, and that you can be the leader of yourself, then magic really starts to happen. So, I know that acceptance can be hard to accept and with everything this takes practice, this takes time.
This takes real effort to start to undo the conditioning of the neural pathways that have been created by that conditioning. We can start to just make little steps in the opposite direction. Stop thinking badly of yourself. Start accepting that you might have these particular character traits, these personality changes, but you are so much more than that.
We are all able to be every single emotional trait that there is. We have that ability, but we are so much more than that. We might behave in a certain way, but we are not our behaviours. We are so much more than that. Just think about that. Just think about how much more you are than what you think you are, than what people might say you are.
Remember non-acceptance has a place in the limbic system and the amygdala, so it’s very much based on emotional responses. Reflect on this, because you are not your experiences. You are not your emotional responses to these experiences. Observe that. Observe who you are, observe how you might change, observe who you could be.
Let’s start doing that. Let’s start doing it now. Let’s start thinking about what you value, what you stand for. What is acceptance other than actually, this is who I am in the here and now. And this is me in all my glory. Let’s start committing to that acceptance. So what needs to happen for you to commit to embodying your acceptance?
A shift in values? A shift in beliefs? A commitment to listen to your body? A change in habits? What needs to happen to be more accepting of yourself and focusing your energy on creating a life that would enable you to live in complete and utter wellness and wellbeing. So just think about all of that. Acceptance is huge within the UnBroken world.
Acceptance us everything in order to begin to start to curate and creates the life that we want. So, thank you very much for listening. I’d like you to give me a five star recommendation there, and please feel free to comment below, and please do subscribe. If you have also got any little nuggets of wisdom from this, and you can think of at least two people that might benefit from this, please pass on the details. That’s my permanent call to action for people. Just tell two people that might find this useful.
UnBroken is not about clickbait and shininess and catching the attention. This is about creating a movement that’s actually going to create the UnBroken Tribe.
People who support each other and are called together to make a difference in their own world, that can make a difference in the entire world. So remember, five star review, put any comments, subscribe for more and tell two of your friends.
Thank you very much for listening. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day, evening, night, whatever you’re doing.
And I look forward to speaking again to you soon.
So this is your 60 second recap of the UnBroken podcast. The A, B and four C’s of acceptance. So remember really, really easy.
What you need to do is to Actively embrace your subjective experience.
Be completely and utterly honest with yourselves at all times about whether you’re being accepting, whether you are not being accepting. Just notice, just try and be honest. Stop kidding yourself.
Look at the Conditioning. So the first of the four C’s, look at your conditioning, look at the conditioning that’s all around you. Look at the messaging that’s affecting you. Look at how you compare. And I kick comparison out the ballpark. Let’s celebrate who you are.
Let’s start to Connect. So let’s really look at having those really solid connections with yourself, with others and with your outside area.
And then look at the Choices that you’re making. Look at the choices that you feel you have, look at the choices that you feel you haven’t. Start looking at that. Let’s really start accepting acceptance as being the bedrock of anything else that we do.
So thank you for listening. Give me a five star recommendation, put any comments below and subscribe to listen again to the UnBroken podcast.