This concept related to acceptance and resistance is something I've called upon in my work with clients for many years, yet never thought to include in a blog post. But it's just so incredibly useful that it should be shared. A hard concept to integrate, but to the extent that you can, life simply becomes easier!
The idea is this: S = P x R Suffering equals Pain times Resistance *Pain in inevitable in life; Resistance is something we add.
Accept pain for what it is because it does exist. Pain includes both physical and emotional pain.
Resisting our pain worsens our suffering. Resistance can include: Shoulds, Coulds, Woulds, Denial, Pushing away, Holding on, Guilt, Judging, Negative Self-talk, and Rumination.
Reducing our resistance to the pain we experience either reduces or all together rids us of our suffering.
- Wishes for relief
- Self-punitive thoughts
- Grimacing, wincing, bracing
- Aversive thoughts (causing avoidance of a thing, situation, or behavior by using an unpleasant or punishing thought, as in techniques of behavior modification)
- Anger, fear, depression regarding condition
The Two Darts
Another way to expressing this idea is through a Buddhist teaching called the two darts:
The first dart is the unavoidable pains and difficulties of a life which includes illness, old age, and death in which we often receive what we don’t want and don’t get what we desire.
The second dart is a reaction of some kind. A wish, a regret, an anger…something that the mind adds to the experience which arises from our conditioning and history. While we can never avoid all of the first darts, we can do more than we think we can to reduce how many of these second darts we throw at ourselves.
*The above-mentioned concepts are just a couple of the many tools, approaches, and skills we help our clients learn when they work with us.