Acceptance as a way to mental well-being

Whether you like it or not, much of your life centers around the way you use your mind. Mindset is extremely important, and I will have a post subsequently to share how you can actually measure it if you are in leadership and business.

One of the key approaches in personal mastery comes from studies in self-awareness and the idea of acceptance. I spoke briefly about this in an interview by Asher Aw on mental well-being.

It has come to my attention that awareness and acceptance is far more important than what most people think. Now, as I will put strongly, acceptance is not condoing. It is about staying with and acknowledging that something has happened. And the human mind is extremely unwilling to sit with bad feelings, even though might be good messengers for a higher cause.

According to research in Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, research in telomere length is directly related to the patterns of thought you have. Ever wonder why people who go through a tremendously stressful period in their life seem to suddenly age? Well, part of it is related to the fact that several mechanisms affect your age. Even in Prof Ellen Langer’s book Counterclockwise, there is significant evidence to show that putting your mind in past memories mindfully can make you look younger.

Evidence does point to the fact that in order to restructure the brain, one will have to undergo protocols to change and transform that brain structure. This will include being aware of the underlying issue, knowing what strategy is happening in your mind, and learning how to construct better mental strategies so that your brain begins to work toward what you want in default, so that you overcome the limitations of willpower.

Here are some steps that you can use for your own mental well-being. Do remember, however, that if you are experiencing a difficult moment, please seek professional help quickly.

Stage 1: Spend some time with yourself and recollect moments of inadequacy, failure or limit.

This is by far one of the most difficult things to mindfully pay attention to. In my mind, it is also one of the most important because you have to anchor yourself to the fact that something is not going right for you. When you are aware of what is happening to you, you are now moving into metacognition.

By being aware and acknowledging that these things happened to you, you shift away from instinctive reactionary behaviors toward intentional deliberate behaviors. You then do this for however long it takes to unpack feelings and experiences that have been around that you never really explored. Most of these will begin to emerge after a triggering episode, possibly leading to some kind of breakdown. You don’t have to wait for this episode to do this, but often, a person feels ‘broken’ when they are at a cusp of a transformation… if they don’t do something silly like turn to addictive behaviors.

The process here involves acknowleding the intention for the emotion. For instance, when I felt anxiety, it was because I felt I was not well-prepared. The intent of anxiety, therefore, was to help prepare me for the future engagement. It also spoke of high expectations that I had which, in a sense, was pitched against my professionalism. By hearing out your inner self, you can start to hear what is being truly communicated instead of brushing it aside.

While we know that habitual performance take time (which is why I recommend a period of coaching to arrive at your desired outcomes), the level of comfort in working through traumatic events also requires the help of mental health professionals in the first place. I would suggest that holding the space to learn about your reactions, your inner pain and how you can rebuild yourself is an important part of healing.

Stage 2: Gain multi-dimensional perspectives.

In my NLP training, I often encourage people to understand and experience the value of taking on different perceptual positions. This means that you have to concertedly change your way of thinking by leaving your judgements and evaluations behind, and start to think as if you are someone else.

I often say that if you don’t think you can do something, then be someone else!

The multidimensional perspective includes (i) role models, (ii) detractors, (iii) confidants, (iv) authority figures, and (v) observers, among others on one plane, and the (i) past, (ii) present, and (iii) future on another plane. In examining perspectives, you are likely to derive a reframe of your life conditions. It is extremely difficult to gain different perspectives while you are in a funk. But often, reflecting after the fact helps you to raise your consciousness to a level that can help transcend the issue.

Stage 3: Anticipating the future and prioritizing action or learning.

With acceptance and reflection, one can imagine the future and how we can deal with the challenges we have reflected upon. What do you want instead? What do you want to change? This could then be a laundry list of hundreds of different goals, tasks and objectives you wish to accomplish. Only by prioritizing them will you get a clearer direction for implementation. Sometimes, you may find something you know you need to do, but can’t do much about. So you could seek coaching or set up a study plan for your future.

Stage 4: Building resourcefulness.

In Stage 1, you can listen and acknowledge the Messenger emotions. But you also want to ask about what are the Enactor emotions that drive you to your Outcome.

NLP has a vast set of tools that will assist you to develop your mental muscles. The feelings of resourcefulness, for example, also come from your history and your imagination at the same time. You could have had moments in your life where you could recall a powerful memory, such as the birth of a child, or a major achievement.

Or, just like a child, you could imagine and make-believe. Actors, for example, are able to make us believe things that are not real. But if they can do that and create a real tangible emotion in the audience, one could say that it is real. Imagining a victory can be just as exhilarating as experiencing a victory. And the interesting thing is that they are two ends of the same coin – imagining the victory often puts us in the same state that enables the victory.

Stage 5: Enacting and creating in small steps.

The process of change is not always instant. Indeed, everyone has their own learning pathway, and as long as you stay on the journey of learning, you are going to keep changing. I’ve had some NLP practitioners suddenly realize things about NLP only after incubating their practice over the years. Even I, a veteran of NLP over 27+ years of practice, am still getting new ideas about how I can further define and leverage NLP.

This will be the same as anything you pursue. Trauma. Career change. New family conditions. Grief. All of these things are like the proverbial elephant that you need to eat in bite sized chunks. I highlight a possible equation for this (which I am still working on – so feel free to critique) in my article entitled the Theory of Consistent Discomfort. We apply our clear outcome with a level of drive which will lead to us applying habits to a point where we can change our lives radically and fundamentally for a new future version of ourselves to come to being.


Remember, this approach is not a cookie-cutter approach and needs personal exploration, the way I often explore goals with my coaching and/or counseling clients. This lays out some ways you can think about how to develop yourself in a healthier and more effective direction so you can elevate yourself to a higher, conscious and positive disposition about yourself.

I’d love to hear your comments about how this might work for you!

See also  Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Overcome Challenges

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