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What is Acceptance to you?

An interesting concept.

And yet it's so easily brushed off or ignored too.

But what really is acceptance? Having been through a long Fire Service career and all of its after service challenges that began showing themselves out of nowhere, I guess I had to, at some point accept that the mixed feelings and emotions that arose from the smallest of triggers were all part of the healing process. Releasing and letting go. Witnessing too many times the loss of life, where we cannot change the outcome. All this gets stored and shoved down. It remains and festers. Until we decide to shift it.

Not sure where I am going or following me yet?

Let's look at simple examples.

Whilst in France I came across 2 huge German Shepard dogs whilst driving, 1 on the road trying to stop me and the other in the irrigation canal. This is fast flowing very cold and straight off the mountain cold water. I've no idea how long the dog had been in there. The sides were very steep and this poor thing was trembling and weak.

My brain is whizzing thinking how do I get it out, or will it bite me? Or will they both bite me? Then acceptance comes along and says, very clearly, 'in you get, you are going to have to get wet.' So that's it decided, I slide down and in, thigh deep, and yes it's bloody freezing. Connect with the dog and talk to it, saying what I'm about to do and then arms submerged in and under its chest and lifting her free.

Yeah, 1 dog was rescued, but I now have to accept, that I'm soaked apart from my torso and I cannot get out either. Luckily my good lady wife had a rope that we had already used previously on another stray dog as a lead, and I was offered this to pull myself out.

Or another example was rescuing a cow from a slurry pit whilst in Service. Oh, believe me, you can see it and smell it just by imagining it. This cow was stuck and not getting out without our assistance. This was by sliding rescue strops under its belly and chest and then ropes to haul it free. You are getting the strop ready, you're waist-deep, literally in shit and reminding yourself not to wipe the sweat from your face with your hands lol. Again it's arms and chest deep, so your face is almost in the poo and reaching for your mate's hand to pass the strop. We jokingly said at this point that this may be the biggest teets we would ever be touching. You have to keep a sense of humour right? Keeping the udder free or it would be damaged and no longer any use for milking.

You have no desire to go arms deep and almost face plant cow shit, but here it's a sign of acceptance right?

Or could it be going through the heat barrier to rescue a person? It's not comfortable and bloody hot, pushing through the intense flames and smoke but without your intervention, it doesn't bode well. The casualty's fate is in your hands.

Maybe it's acknowledging where you are and that something has to happen for something to change.

This isn't being defeatist, it's a positive take on how you see things. Going back to my training for the fundraising cycling events. I had to accept that the winds are not within my control, so reframing my thoughts to them being my training partner and it was making me fitter quicker. Even cycling most days was and is, on my own, pushing myself, rather than relying on someone else to motivate me. Training on my own has made me realise even more how resilient I can be. We all can be and do, but how many of us acknowledge and give ourselves credit for what we do?

I have so wanted the books to be selling more and more, but they are there for people when and if they are needed. The purchasing is beyond my control. I have had to accept that all I can do is continue to spread the message.

So, when you accept something for what it is, you let go of the outcome.

A really simple example could be a smashed mug with coffee. You dropped it and it's spilt.

You probably curse and swear and chunter, but then accept that you have to clean it all up too.

We don't like confrontation with others and this happens with ourselves and our thinking too.

Would you continue eating a meal served to you if it was supposed to be hot and it's only part cooked and cold? You flit from thought to thought and don't want to make a scene or fuss, or how will the waiter/waitress respond? How they respond is not your problem, you're not being awkward, and you are right to speak out. You aren't happy and eating something part cooked could be detrimental to your health.

Decisions and decisions we think we should make should be addressed when face to face with the situation.

Deal with what's in front of you, not what you think is in front of you.

I cannot decide how I am going to enter a burning building until I am there, assessing it as it is, right in front of me in real-time.

We have all done it at some point, giving our opinions to others on what and what not to do, the classic, 'if it were me,' but as I've learnt over my experiences and years, we can only truly make a decision when we are stood facing it in reality. So coming back to acceptance, it's ok to say this is what I will do and not do. And it's also ok to change your mind when literally face to face with the situation. We accept our decision making on the facts we know at that time.

I recall, the Chippenham open-air swimming pool as a child. I used to train early morning swimming training before school, yep sometimes this was cold. a 50M Olympic sized 8 lane pool.

It also had a brilliant selection of high diving boards. This was a decision time for many.

Do you climb the stairs and dive off? There was no jumping. You were egged on by your mates and you'd see braver people doing it, and me being me doesn't like to not face my fears. So once you'd started to walk the long walk of external stairs you knew everyone was watching. The whole place full of so many people had eyes on the 'diving board' walker!! You could feel the murmurs and twitch from everyone. The anticipation of what board height you'd stop at. You knew people were all eager to label and ridicule. Hey, with this in mind, walking back down was utter humiliation. But I now see the courage in others just to have climbed the stairs, irrespective of the jump/dive outcome. They were facing their fears as best they could at that point in time.

Being a skinny 5ft, 10 year old back then, this was incredibly high, the 5-metre board. Looking over the edge was enough. Anyone walking up behind you and that rush feeling of they would push you off merely heightened the already crazy experience. If I was doing it, it was under my conditions and my control. The longer you stayed there, you either, accepted the banter from the hoarding crowds and forgot to listen, and then saw the fear and challenge for what it was.

I didn't care about what people thought of me, this was me against a huge obstacle.

What could go wrong we laughed?

And anyone who did jump, (and get told off for not diving,) or didn't jump and turned around, there was no shame in walking back down. Seriously you attempted and showed up.

You don't have to do it. It's your decision.

Accepting that I don't have to people please and do what I am supposed to, is incredibly healthy. So, picture yourself up on the edge of the 5m high diving board. How does it feel? Didn't look that high from down on the ground.

So how do we accept things? For me I would begin to play them out in my mind, seeing the good outcome and how it would make me feel. Controlling my breathing, accepting where I was and what was going to happen. Accepting that anyone else's opinion mattered for nothing as they were not standing next to me up here, about to do the same crazy stunt. Oh yeah, when I was a kid I wanted to be a stunt man!! Joining the Fire Service was the next best thing.

For me today, it was my last visit to the dentist after 2 years of not having work done due to the 2020 situation and dentistry work previously carried out. The moral is not to put things off, deal with them early or the work becomes major, I have had to accept that my repair work was major. In total, 3 root fillings and 3 crowns, but 4 molars were affected. It has been numerous hours of drilling. I have had to take myself out into another place in my mind to cope. But I have also learnt to accept the pain and weird feelings and trust that it will be worth it. It is only temporary, soon I will be able to eat properly and not feel pain. The mind has to constantly remind us of the amazing things we have and can do to offset as compensation

The biggest thing to remember here is, that if you begin to become aware of things and see them for what they truly are, how they make you feel and respond then you can adapt and change your responses too.

Don't settle for less than you deserve and accept that change needs to happen maybe, and in that change, it may be uncomfortable, but facing them head-on and seeing them for what they really are, enables us to deal with them more effectively.

So, now you are maybe more informed and aware, I ask again, what is acceptable to you?

There are no right and wrong answers. The answers are yours and yours alone.

Acceptance of the weather for what it is. We cannot change it, yet we can embrace it.

Our perceptions and mindset can and will make a huge difference.


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