What Does It Actually Mean to Allow Painful Feelings – And How Do We Do It?

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Holding onto painful feelings shown by woman in tug of warIt’s hard to accept things that are difficult, unpleasant and painful. And I don’t know about you but I read all the time in spiritual or self-help books about “Acceptance”, “Surrender” or “Allowing” painful feelings. What does it actually mean and how do we do it?

Well, when we resist painful feelings they remain with us. As long as we block the painful feelings we can’t soothe and be kind to ourselves, we can’t heal ourselves and we certainly can’t learn from them and move on because we’re far too busy denying they exist.

Recently, I came across a new term, “Active Acceptance”.

With active acceptance we allow our painful feelings to exist and make a CONSCIOUS choice to accept them. This involves acknowledging what we’re feeling and allowing it without wallowing.

A great analogy is if you imagine you’re in a tug of war. You’re holding onto the rope, and at the other end is a bottomless pit of hopelessness, despair and pain. The pit of painful feelings is frightening, so you keep tugging to avoid being pulled into the ‘pit of pain’.

But there is another option: Put down the rope.

The pit of pain is still there. But you can stop resisting and ALLOW it to be there.

The world is not black and white – which means we’re not either IN the pit or OUT of it. Instead the painful feelings can be there, but we can learn to see and allow our pain WITHOUT fighting it.

Only then can we do the work of healing ourselves and our pain.

So, next time you have painful feelings try “Active Acceptance”. And instead of fighting, surrender, and put down the rope.

We also wrote a post here you may find helpful – a Simple 3 Step Model to Deal With Difficult Feelings and Emotions.

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