The power and importance of the deep acceptance of what ‘is’.

The 13th Century poet Rumi’s ‘The Guest House’ describes an intriguing metaphor for life’s journey: “This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a new arrival, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.”

What should we do with these – often unbidden – visitors?

Rumi’s advice is clear: we should, “Welcome and entertain them all.” And there is a parallel here with Buddhist teaching which tells us that pain – one of those unbidden visitors again – is guaranteed for all of us in life, but our suffering is optional.

Observe it and welcome it

I think what both point to is the power and importance of having deep acceptance of what ‘is’. By truly observing what arises in us, observing those emotions, and welcoming them in, means they don’t have to lead to suffering.

Here’s an example: I’ve recently worked with a client who had joined the executive team but was struggling to find their voice and talked of suffering from impostor syndrome – as many leaders do when they are promoted.

That feeling of impostor syndrome was seen as a weakness until they were told it is what makes them great, because it makes them humble, approachable, thoughtful and curious. For them that was a switch, and now gives them a completely different relationship of deep acceptance with what ‘is’. Now, they welcome the gift of deep acceptance.

That old thinking where you fight and oppose those emotions and feelings that you perceive as weaknesses or vulnerabilities are part of a Newtonian mind which sees life as much more controlled and predictable than it really is. Today’s world is more quantum. It’s a less certain space that embraces interconnectedness, and is strongly influenced and shaped by the digital environment we now live in; requiring different skills of curiosity and listening.

Be grateful for whoever comes

Above all, it’s about that deep acceptance of what ‘is’. As Rumi’s Guest House concludes: “The dark thought, the shame, the malice – meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”