Updated: Mar 24
By Minnie Lane
This morning, I stumbled upon an instagram post by Neil Strauss, author of 'The Game'. It inspired me to write about a part of spiritual growth that is often misunderstood - the subtle but important difference between 'letting go' and 'giving up'.
I quite like Neil Strauss and I'm glad to see he has laid down his previous 'pick up artist extraordinaire' job title and taken a more wholesome direction in inspiring his followers. However, advice like this can be a bit confusing for people experiencing feelings of loneliness, being misunderstood and not accepted for who they are, as it suggests that the solution is to let go of an 'addiction' to wanting these things. In my opinion, this isn't quite right.
The desire to be understood and accepted is part of what makes us human and a driving force for us to keep going along the challenging journey of life. When Neil's son is crying because he doesn't feel accepted, would the correct course of action be to encourage him to get over it and stop being so needy? Of course not. That would require his child to deny or detach from his feelings, which would ultimately contribute further to feelings of loneliness and not being acceptable for who he really is. (I'm sure that's not what Neil would do, but posts like this can be misleading).
It's a father's role to fully accept his son for who he is. Always. This shows the child that he is acceptable to others, which over time shows the child how to accept himself. (A little note here that this doesn't mean accepting your child's behaviour. You can punish a child for bad behaviour, but be clear that it's the behaviour thats unacceptable, not the child.)
As adults, it's likely that we weren't always lucky enough to receive constant love and acceptance as a child, so most of us grow up with deep rooted fears that we are not accepted, understood or valued. It can be very painful when these feelings are triggered by events in our life and, as Neil says, we may become sad, depressed or lonely.
The answer isn't to ignore these feelings and give up the desire to be understood, but to change the direction of our desire and turn inwards to resolve these painful feelings. We need to heal these deep wounds by going on a journey of self discovery to understand OURSELVES and accept OURSELVES.
When we feel pain in being misunderstood or not accepted by others, it's because it triggers deep fears that we may actually be unacceptable. Tempting as it is to numb ourselves, distract ourselves or deny the pain, what we really need to do is release these false beliefs by feeling the pain without fighting it.
When we observe and allow pain instead of trying to avoid it, we let go of old emotional blocks and finally process the energy trapped in them. Like this, we can undo negative habit patterns of the mind, replacing them with the truth - that our true self is perfect, unique and important. (Again, a note here that feedback from others about your behaviour being unacceptable may be valid, but you, as a person, are always acceptable and valuable beyond words).
Never give up the want to be understood or the want to be accepted, but turn to yourself to do the work. The more you understand yourself, the easier it will be to help others understand you. The more you accept yourself for who you really are, the more you will show others how to do the same. The further along your journey you go, the easier it becomes to trust that life gives you what you need for your deepest healing and growth, even if it's not what you want.
Life is a game - a journey of self discovery until you finally understand and recognise yourself as pure love. Yes, it can be frustrating, confusing, painful and relentless at times, but we're all in it together and the further you climb, the clearer things become.
Let go of your fears and negative beliefs, but don't ever let go of your desire to understand and accept yourself and others.