A Great Example About Acceptance and Willingness When it Comes to Pain – “Let Aunt Ida In”
Let’s face it – all of us bear around with some kind of pain. For a lot of you reading this, it will be related to an ex girlfriend. Lost love, so to say.
And that’s why I talk a lot about acceptance. I see acceptance (and willingness) as key concepts when it comes to living with pain – and that means, key concepts to living at all.
Today I want to give you an example on how you can be willing (and accepting). For some of you, the essence of these concepts might be a bit hard to grasp, but with this example, I hope to make it more real, clear and applicable for you.
I got this example from a great book on Acceptance and Commitment therapy, called “Get out of your mind and into your life”. Here goes…
Let your Aunt Ida in
Imagine vividly that you want to invite your whole family to a party at your house. You send out the invitations to everyone, far and beyond. You are looking forward to seeing everyone.
On the day of the party, a lot of your relatives show up. It’s a cheerful scene: people from all over the country seeing each other for the first time in years. It’s a great party. The spirit is high and everyone is enjoying themselves.
That is… Until Aunt Ida arrives. Aunt Ida is that Aunt who never takes a shower, who always gets too drunk and noisy and who always makes the children cry. She’s very unpleasant to have around.
So when she knocks on the door, you refuse to open it – instead, you stand up against it so she aren’t able to get in.
The consequence of not letting her in
This is where the whole theory on acceptance and willingness steps forward. What do you think it means that you have to barricade the door to let Aunt Ida out? Think about it.
The party is going to die. First of all, while you’re guarding the door, you won’t be able to participate in the party yourself. Your guests will also feel like they are in a wierd position; some will argue with you, some will go home and some will try to retreat farther away from the door and the entrance hall. The mood will drop substantially.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Denying or suppressing something, in this case, Aunt Ida, just doesn’t work. In the end, it ends up only begging for more attention and causing more destruction and unhappiness for you (and everyone around).
Let in the pain
Now, what’s the better scenario? You guessed it. Just let Aunt Ida in. Be friendly to her. Show her where the food and drinks are located, introduce her to your new girlfriend, ask her how she has been doing, etc. In short: recognize her presence and give her some attention.
You don’t have to follow her around and take extra good care for her, not at all. Just don’t treat her any differently than all your other guests.
Who is this Ida?
As you most likely have figured out, Aunt Ida is your “bad” thoughts and emotions. She’s the painful thoughts you have of your ex girlfriend, the bad childhood memories; everything you have been denying or suppressing your whole life.
But it’s time to let them in. It’s time to let her in. Open up and welcome the pain. Live with an open heart, even if it hurts!
It’s when you don’t recognize it’s presence, her presence, when you shut it out or when you try to ignore it, that it has the ability to grow and grow and become so large that it fills up everything.
Keep this is mind. Let your Aunt Ida in!
Let me know what you think in the comments. Have you had success with accepting bad thoughts in the past? Do this example resonate with you? Have any other techniques or ideas on the subject?
Image by David Urbanke.