Accepting bad thoughts

It’s human to feel rubbish some days, maybe even weeks. While it may seem as if you have no choice but to power through those bad times, taking time out to contemplate about your anxieties, self-doubt or feelings of uncertainty can make all the difference – accept what’s causing your distress and you’re on your way to living and thinking mindfully. By sitting with your difficult feelings you give yourself permission to be human in all its chaos. Accepting bad thoughts is one of the main principles of mindfulness.

Acceptance is not about liking something or agreeing with something – it’s simply about acknowledging what is happening, what is true in this moment. The more we can accept each moment as it is, the less we suffer. Here are three steps to finding that acceptance – and boosting your mood:

Acknowledge what’s making you anxious Although it may feel as though anxiety comes out of nowhere, it’s usually triggered by something. Once you learn what sets off your jitters you can begin to change your relationship to it – instead of spending all your energy fighting it.

Face difficulties, don’t avoid them When life throws something emotionally challenging at us it’s tempting to ignore it. But when you avoid confronting things that you find hard you only end up suffering for longer or harbouring unhelpful thoughts. Acknowledging feelings of distress helps you accept what comes your way.

Cultivate acceptance Give yourself a five-minute break to cultivate accepting your distress. Sit with your eyes closed, and focus on your breathing. Then notice any thoughts you are having, particularly if they are about not liking something or wanting something to be different. Instead of berating yourself, maybe there’s a conversation you could have in your head to convince somebody to think or do something differently.

Then explore if you can let go of those thoughts. Thoughts are merely thoughts – just witness them, then breathe them away. It may help to say to yourself: ‘It is what it is.’ Come back to your breath, relaxing into the spaciousness of your present moment. Breathe without judgment, with curiosity, acceptance.


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