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Mar 19

Acceptance: Breaking Free of the Chinese Finger Trap

Lee's Summit Chiropractor, Mind/Body Connection, Stress Reduction Comments Off on Acceptance: Breaking Free of the Chinese Finger Trap
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance
and only with acceptance can there be recovery”

—Albus Dumbledore

Moving Beyond the Painful Trap | Lee’s Summit

Like pedestrians at a crosswalk awaiting a signal which may never appear, many feel stuck in life, standing in the same position for days, months and even years, unable to move ahead. What is it about the age in which we live that engenders this feeling? We’re overwhelmed with our fast-paced existence and the stresses which circumscribe and envelope our work and personal relationships. We want to move beyond, but few understand how to get there. The signal beckons us forth to move ahead, but we must first embrace acceptance, aware of our place in the world and our inability to move beyond our circumstances. Unacceptance is the Chinese fingertrap of life: the more we pull, the tighter things gets—so we pull harder and harder still in an effort to prise ourselves free, and eventually find ourselves…(grunt)…(arghhh)…(gasp)…stuck!

An Ongoing Battle with Reality

In a battle with reality, there is no contest: reality always wins! The simple beauty in acceptance is that it quickly aligns your sense of reality with reality itself. And living in opposition to reality is a guaranteed way to experience turmoil in your life. A wise man once said to me, “He who expects nothing is rarely disappointed.” Taking this moment as it is opens your life to a possibility previously unknown. It allows this moment to become whatever the moment is supposed to be and nothing more; and allows you to move through this moment to the next. The irony in accepting is that we must all reach acceptance sooner or later in all matters, but why not reach it sooner and save ourselves the unnecessary suffering?

There is a common thread among my wellness patients, which is why I’m writing this entry on acceptance. Many who find themselves stuck in a state of poor or declining health are among those who feel a need to control everything in life. They grip the reins tightly and react with anger, worry, frustration, fear, sadness and anxiety to common events that do not meet with their particular expectations. This is not a criticism, for we all do this to some extent or another. In order to heal and get back on the path to recovery, understanding must be met and the tightly gripped reins must slacken, relinquishing control and aligning perceptions towards the prism of reality. Control is nothing more than an illusion anyway; we have control over our outlook and perspective, nothing more. We can no more control the events and people in our life than we can control the direction in which the wind blows—so let’s meet the winds of change swirling around us as friends, impelling our sails onward towards halcyon skies and promising new horizons ahead.

Step Towards Acceptance

Inside of our inability to accept lies the germ of some truth or lesson we would rather not face. The sooner we face this truth, understanding our place and accepting where we are in life, the sooner we are freed of the Chinese finger-trap that we’ve unwittingly foisted upon ourselves. Ease into your reality through acceptance and feel the grip loosen as you break free of your fetters and cross to the next stage of life, no longer stuck in an undesirable station. Here are some suggestions to help signal you on to the other side:

Self Awareness

Take note, by journaling or by simple awareness in the moment itself, of your responses to circumstances which arise in everyday life. Something upsets or angers you and in that moment ask yourself, “What is it about this situation that causes me to feel this way?” Asking this question gives you a powerful window into understanding why we react in this way or that. For instance, when someone cuts us off in traffic, we honk our horn, gesture and yell—but why? Is the reaction required or does it change the outcome in any appreciable way? There is a drive in us for self-preservation and when we feel wronged, we take things personally. This cycle is broken with our questioning awareness, which breeds understanding and acceptance, stemming the tide of anger and unrest in the future.

Awareness of Others

When you are witnessing someone around you doing something that angers or upsets you, ask yourself the question, “What is their motivation for these actions?” In working to understand why people do what they routinely do, we begin to realize that the offender’s actions aren’t often personal, they are merely responding out of a lack of awareness and an inbuilt desire for self-preservation. For instance, a person expressing the need to always be right, while correcting others when they are wrong is often a person who feels inferior and has an ingrained need to prove their intellect to others. People project insecurities, hang-ups, self-limiting beliefs and the like all the time and if we are unaware, we are liable to take things personally. Understanding separates the offense from the offender and gives us the power not to react unnecessarily to situations that arise, moving beyond and meeting people with compassion rather than judgment and enmity.


Through meditation we sit quietly with our thoughts, gaining perspective on what comes to the surface of our mind. We don’t have to judge the thoughts that arise or solve any problems, but merely give it our attention, like we’d give to passing clouds in the sky. We note the qualities of these thoughts and take the time to recognize what is going on internally, which tells us much about what we react to and why. To quote Laozi, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” Meditation is the vehicle for self-mastery.

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