Tag Archive: accepting

Judging versus accepting



I was having coffee with a friend a few days ago. Next to us were a group of people complaining about someone they just heard. It seems they were at a conference together and this was an informal get-together to lament their wasted time. I found myself wondering how this experience could have been more fruitful for them – and myself when I do the same thing – if they had focused more on learnings and less on losses.

I’ve been on both sides of this experience – complaining about and being complained about.  On one memorable occasion, after I’d arrived to give a presentation about stress, I was just getting up to talk when I felt overwhelmingly ill. It was too late to cancel, so I went ahead and presented in a voice that was too quiet and in a manner that was too reserved.  The result was predictible: a loss of connection with the audience.

Then there’s the time when I sat fidgeting while a new presenter talked about the technical details of investing – a topic that could put me to sleep in under 5 minutes at the best of times.  At some point I stopped listening, and regained awareness only after the speaker had offered what might have been a rather brilliant suggestion for investors like me.  I missed it, because I wasn’t focused on looking for it.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Spending our valuable time not listening, not engaging, but instead complaining and whining. Judging others and ourselves. It isn’t educational: it doesn’t add to what we know and can use. It isn’t pleasant or energizing.  It depletes energy and makes us miserable. Who among us, after a session of self-flagilation, can then sit down and happily examine what happened and how we can do better next time?

Not me!  That’s when I head for the refrigerator and set about numbing out with carbs.

On the ther hand, have you really stopped to think about those times when you did learn something valuable? When you did hang around and stay with the presenter? At those times, you might have brought with you an attitude of self- and other-acceptance. Accepting that things aren’t always perfect. Accepting that there is always going to be some gem, even among the most messed-up experience.

Accepting that we are all in this life-experience together, and that more can be had from self- and other-regard than from judging and complaining.

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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Acceptance, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness


A friend was having issues with the neighbor above her: he was noisy and would wake her with his banging at around at 2am, to the point that she had trouble getting to sleep at all.  Every night.  It began to bother her so much that it was on her mind every evening, taking up all the space in her head with wory and rumination on “What if this” and “What if that” and “Why can’t he do the decent thing” and “Why can’t he be more considerate” and many many more What If’s and Whys. It became a constant nag and an equally constant drain on her energy.

At some point, she’d had enough – desperate and frantic from lack of sleep, she was willing to try anything short of moving (although that would have been next).  And as so many of us know personally, desperation is a wonderful impetus for change.  Sure enough, It wasn’t too long after this decision that she had a huge Aha moment: it was when she changed her perspective just a little, adding one more “What if”: What if her neighbor was like someone with poor eyesight and debilitating arthritis, who couldn’t help but constantly drop things? What if they had to get up at night to use the bathroom? If an elderly person were living above her with these issues, would she be as intolerant? Or would she find a way of dealing with it that brought her peace?

The fact is she would have no trouble accepting the situation as it was for an elderly person, so what was stopping her from accepting the situation as it actually was with her neighbor? The only thing that was stopping her, she discovered, were her own judgments and expectations.  All she had to do to find peace and a good night’s sleep was acceptance of what actually was.

I’ll leave the last word on Acceptance to Jon Kabat-Zinn: Acceptance is a very active process, there is nothing passive about it, it’s not passive resignation but an act of recognition that things are the way they are… Acceptance doesn’t mean we can’t work to change the world, or circumstances, but it means that unless we accept things as they are, we will try to force things to be as they are not and that can create an enormous amount of difficulty.

If we recognise the actuality of things, then we have the potential to apply wisdom to the situation and shift our own relationship to what is occurring in ways that can be profoundly healing and transformative… Without acceptance of a situation it is very difficult to know where to stand and to take a first step.”

I first read of the 7 pillars of mindfulness in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on mindfulness Full Catastrophe Living. These pillars are Buddhist principles that help us be present and mindful in our everyday living. The 7 meditations I offer to anyone who signs up on my website www.thejoyofliving.co are based on these, and I use them in my own meditation practice.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .