Everyone encounters suffering or pain at various points in their lives. This may be physical, emotional, or psychological, and it’s expected to want to resist it and find ways to escape it.
But the key to overcoming pain may be to accept it instead of resisting it. Leslie Becker-Phelps, an acclaimed psychologist and author, has a fantastic equation for this: Pain x Resistance = Suffering.
So how does accepting it help you minimize it in the long run?
Benefits of radical acceptance in overcoming pain
Understanding the nature of your pain
Pain is a multifaceted emotion that may affect you at the physical and emotional levels. The best thing about radical acceptance is that it allows you to step back and look at your feelings. This helps you understand the nature of your pain.
It may come from trauma, loss, rejection, or illness, among other sources. So understanding this helps you navigate it in healthy ways.
Reduces emotional pain
Resisting pain adds another layer of negative emotions on top of the existing discomfort. For example, if you lose someone, some people use well-meaning phrases like “celebrate their life; don’t mourn their death.” But this may make you feel guilty about feeling sad.
In such a case, you get a secondary suffering that’s more overwhelming than the sadness you were feeling in the first place. On the other hand, acceptance gives you a smoother path to healing without judgment.
Besides making the healing process smoother, radical acceptance can expedite the process. Through acceptance, you gain a deeper insight into the pain’s sources and how it affects your life.
With practice, you can learn to accept people’s observations without taking them as judgments. For instance, a person with a substance use disorder can get their addiction affecting those around them without accepting demeaning judgments, and this helps faster recovery.
Resilience or grit is your ability to bounce back from adversity. Interestingly enough, this quality is built from acceptance rather than resistance.
Through acceptance, you learn to adapt and grow from pain. And each challenge makes you better equipped to handle the next one. But if you resist or escape every painful encounter, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by accumulating it somewhere down the road.
Boosts your mindfulness journey
Accepting pain is all about being present in the moment. This aligns with mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness helps you process your emotions, including pain, with clarity.
Battling your pain or constantly trying to avoid it can increase your stress levels. On the other hand, acceptance may help you reduce stress by releasing the tension and anxiety associated with resisting it.
As you embrace it, you find that it loses its power to disturb your mind.
Improves your relationships
Your pain may be coming from relationship conflicts and misunderstandings, whether family or work. Accepting it within yourself may open doors to better communication and understanding. If you approach it with a willingness to work through it, you may foster healthier relationships.
Pain helps you build resilience, a key ingredient in personal development. You become a more robust, wiser, and more compassionate individual.
As mentioned, pain is part of your life. This means there’s no way anyone can live a pain-free life, and trying to do so leads to frustrations and disappointment. But if you accept it, you acknowledge the truth and find purpose in adversity.
Promote mind-body connection
Resisting emotional pain can manifest itself physically in the form of physical tension, stress-related health issues, or chronic pain. On the other hand, fighting physical pain can affect you mentally and emotionally. Accepting it can bring balance to your mind-body connection without one affecting the other.
Freedom to choose
Accepting pain doesn’t mean resigning to it. It gives you an alternative, healthier option to deal with it. It allows you to seek help instead of suffering alone, take positive actions, and change your perspective.
Accepting pain rather than resisting it can be a transformative and empowering choice. Benefits of radical acceptance include reducing emotional stress, building resilience, promoting mind-body connection, and improving relationships, among others.
Acceptance can be a great pathway to a more meaningful and fulfilling life. But remember, this is a challenging process that may involve support from therapists or loved ones.