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A Great Example About Acceptance and Willingness When it Comes to Pain – “Let Aunt Ida In”

Get rid of the pain by letting in old Aunt Ida Get rid of the pain by letting in old Aunt Ida

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.

12 thoughts on “A Great Example About Acceptance and Willingness When it Comes to Pain – “Let Aunt Ida In”

  1. Alex

    Good to see another post from you Alex.

    Slightly unrelated to this post but still related to the overall subject… What is your opinion on mantra preached by people like David DeAngelo and Roissy (http://roissy.wordpress.com)?

    What I like about your posts and advice is that it seems to be well grounded and easy to relate to. It is realistic and easily attainable. Whereas those guys I mentioned above, preach a game that I see fit only for douche bags (my opinion). And while they too sometimes give good advice (rare), overall I can’t help but disagree with the whole alpha/beta categorization.

    Cheers

    Reply
  2. Alex

    Thanks Alex. Just checked that Roissy fella’ out. I couldn’t quite get the grasp of him from a few posts, but I saw the words alpha and beta A LOT…I don’t know, those terms just doesn’t speak to me too loud.

    David DeAngelo on the other hand, I have great respect for. Not only is he a genious marketer, he’s also a really good teacher. I don’t agree 100% with all of his concepts, but in general. they sure as hell are better than nothing. Maybe that cocky and funny thing gets drawn out a bit too much, be precocious.

    Actually, I just read your comment again, and I see that I have written almost the same as you. Strange. I almost forgot what you wrote first.

    Let’s just say that we agree :-)
    Take care man!

    Reply
  3. Brent G

    Great Post Alex!!!
    This can help lots of men who read your blogs deal with the ex-girlfriend move-on phase and also for many situations that they need to accept the evil in it.
    This can help alot with Being Shy to Being Confident about anything.
    For me, trying to talk to a girl who is beautiful and seems way out of your boundaries is hard! And all these horrible outcomes just fill your head and they resist you from talking to her.
    All you have to do IS ACCEPT
    Accept all those possibilites and know they can happen. Live with the consquence that you might not have a quick amazing relationship after you talk to her. Once this happens, the shyness goes away, because you are prepared for what happens. After you do this, you are probably going to be more better at talking to her then trying to not be shy then talking.
    Acceptance is passing the thresholds of places we dont want to cross, but once we do, the otherside of that wall isnt chaos, but paradise.

    Reply
  4. Sebastyne

    I figured this one out maybe a year ago, with something completely unrelated to any relationships, but with other bad things I didn’t want to think about. It took me a lot more energy to keep the thoughts out than to allow them to come in and pass. In fact, they passed quicker than what it took to fight them out of the door – I was already thinking about them behind the door, but once in, the thoughts dissolved into the noise inside, no harm done. Sure it would be nicer if they didn’t arrive but on occasion and even if you manage to persuade them to go away, they seem to keep coming back anyway until you let them in and deal with them.

    Reply
  5. Alex

    Sebastyne, it’s a good thing that you figured that out. Trying to block thoughts really do take a lot of unnecessary energy!

    I also like your continuation of the example, the possibilites related to our own Aunt Ida are endless.

    Take care! :-)

    Reply
  6. Steve

    Great post Alex….I’ve been “training” in ACT for over a year now and it truly is powerful stuff. Thanks much and keep up the great articles.

    Reply
  7. S Angelo

    Hey Alex, cool post…. I like the example with aunt ida! I too think the best way to treat pain is like that neighbour you are not too fond of: you say hi and smile, keep your calm etc. You don’t ignore ‘it’. Thanks

    Reply
  8. William

    Heyyy Alex..

    This is quite a profound post!! I love it!! I was one of those people some time ago, hiding everything – and then you realise, if you’re comfortbale with your “Aunt Ida” – most people won’t even pay much attention to the “Aunt Ida” if she hit them on the head.

    Secondly it makes you look human. Alot of my female friends always say “that guys like too sweet/good to be true”. I can see where they’re comming from.

    Anyway, I suppose its a sign of confidence not being afraid showing your human side?!

    Reply
  9. Alex

    William,

    you’re right, it makes you look very human :-)

    It’s not necessarily rooted in “confidence” to show your human side, it’s more a trait of compassion. But it’s all good.

    If it’s attractive or not mostly depends on where you are coming from when you do it. If it’s from a needy place, it’s most likely not going to be attractive. On the other hand though, if you come from a place of abundance, it will most likely be “attractive”.

    That means, if you’re being “human” just to be attractive as well, you’re most likely going to fail in both departments :-)

    Take care!

    Reply