top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The Path You Accept



I recall that in early adulthood I came to appreciate “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. In particular, the fourth stanza appealed to me:


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Many meanings may be derived from Frost’s words. Is the road symbolic of life, or is it perhaps the yellow wood in which the poet roams which represents life?


In what way has Frost’s decision, when faced with two roads which diverged, made all the difference? As well, why was the choice to take the less traveled road something the poet considered worthy of pursuing?


Elaborating on the fourth stanza, one source states:


The word “sigh” takes great importance in the stanza as it can represent both happiness and sadness. Robert Frost leaves the reader to comprehend the nature of the decision whether it is right or wrong. The last line of the poem is like a stereotype of the thinking mind. Every individual tries to support the decision taken though inherently knowing that they wonder about other options.


The experience of simultaneous happiness and sadness, as expressed by Frost’s sigh and presumed gratification conveyed in the final line of the poem, may relate to contentment. He isn’t elated, nor is he distraught, though Frost is satisfied with his decision.


I liken Frost’s poem to my perspective on life. Rather than characterizing one’s existence, or choices made during this experience, as relating to a road—a wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles can use, I think of it as a path—a way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading.


Upon the path of life, people are presented with a number of options. Sometimes, it seems as though we can venture off the path and in the direction of separate pathways.


However, the path we’re on is the one we take. The illusion of other paths in our past, the possibilities of having gone this or that way, is insignificant in the present.


Likewise, the opportunity to travel in other future directions becomes little more than an afterthought once the here-and-now becomes the past. Considering what should have, must have, or ought to have been done is inconsequential once we’re already on our way.


Often, I interact with people who disturb themselves regarding their beliefs about the path they’re on. Regarding this matter, I think of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).


The path you’re on is rife with suffering. Although, people tell me they don’t like hearing this truthful declaration. However, I invite the reader to take a moment to contemplate my proposal:


Think about the entirety of your life. In all of the experiences available within your potentially reconstructed memories, how many instances of joy and pleasure can you recall?


Maybe you remember a birthday party in childhood or a particular holiday event. You may reflect upon a time when you received a desired grade in high school or having graduated, leaving behind education altogether.


Perhaps you think of a wedding, birth of a child, or the kind words expressed to you by a loved one. It very well could be that you reminisce about that one orgasm that stood out among all other instances of carnal pleasure.


Whatever it is you’re thinking, put those memories in a space within your mind. Is it a small, medium, or large collection of moments?


Now, think of past experiences with fear, anger, sorrow, and disgust. Try to recall the most agonizing times in your life. I don’t need to suggest examples, because I imagine a host of memories are already flooding in.


Collect all of the unpleasant recollections and place them next to your happiness pile. Which is larger? Which has more of an impact on shaping your perspective about the path upon which you’ve traveled?


Oh, don’t worry about putting on a show for others. It’s only the two of us here. You don’t have to pretend as though everything has been hunk-dory, that your life has been unusually gratifying—unless of course you are one of the exceedingly few people alive who doesn’t suffer.


For the rest of us, it isn’t uncommon to suffer in regards to whatever path we traverse. Suffering is inherent in this life and I suspect the moments of joy, pleasure, or happiness merely punctuate the unpleasant, boring, uncomfortable, and virtually abysmal path of suffering we experience.


Even though the reader may not like or love that this is the case, I suspect that my proposal isn’t deemed entirely incorrect. This is where REBT plays a key role in my life, the lives of my clients, and those people within my inner circle.


As suffering is the default surface upon which we travel, there are a number of ways people tend to complicate their already unfavorable experience. In particular, use of four types of irrational beliefs can cause unpleasant emotional, bodily sensation, and behavioral consequences.


Consider the following examples:


Demandingness – Use of rigid terms such as should, must, and ought towards ourselves, others, and life is often unhelpful. For instance, you may say something like, “Life shouldn’t be this hard!”


When your mind believes this inflexible instruction, you may feel anger and a rapid heartrate. You may even try to provoke another person into arguing with you so that you have an external reason for the consequence of your own self-disturbing belief.


Awfulizing – Also known as catastrophizing, this phenomenon occurs when absolute or black-and-white thinking (i.e., this or that) is combined with worst case scenarios. As an example, you may think something like, “It’ll be the worst thing ever if I don’t receive this promotion!”


Similar to the Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection in the demandingness illustration, use of awfulizing beliefs can create unpleasant outcomes. On the path of life, things may be unpleasant or uncomfortable, though this doesn’t mean the situation is terrible, horrible, or awful.


Frustration tolerance – Our perceived inability to tolerate distress represents low frustration tolerance. If this phenomenon could speak, its catchphrase would be, “I can’t stand it!”


For instance, when someone discusses a sociopolitical opinion with which you disagree, you may declare, “I can’t stand assholes who vote for [___name___]!” With this mental message, your emotions and body receive the message that you literally cannot tolerate distress.


Global evaluations – Use of sweeping generalizations about yourself, others, or life aren’t particularly helpful. As an example, you may say, “I got ghosted again? This is what, the fifteenth time!? People suck, dating sucks, and fuck my life!”


Because of your unproductive belief, you experience sorrow, a heavy sensation throughout your body, and you go on a rant using social media. Your global evaluation has led to a B-C connection that likely doesn’t serve you well.


On the path of life, we cannot control many elements such as the weather. The sun beats down on you and this creates the uncomfortable experience of swack (sweaty back) or swass (sweaty ass).


If you’ve walked along a winding path while enduring this sort of circumstance, you likely know how unpleasant it can be. Still, we can make this matter worse by not removing a pebble from our shoe.


This pebble represents irrational belief and it’s something we can influence. Though you will suffer under the hot sun while traversing your path, you don’t need to bear the hardship of a stone in your shoe (Belief) that injures your foot (Consequence).


Interestingly, I’ve encountered a number of people who not only disagree with my perspective on life and the method of REBT I use to reduce needless suffering, these individuals even convince themselves that they can somehow find a way to avert suffering altogether.


Some of these people are clinicians who practice other psychotherapeutic modalities, gurus who promote alternative lifestyles, and life coaches who convince others that they are merely one more subscription packet away from achieving perpetual bliss along the path of suffering.


Other individuals are spiritualists who believe in outright delusional subject matter, psychonauts who may be convinced they’re one state of altered consciousness away from everlasting ecstasy, and social media influencers who know as much about enlightenment as I do about quantum mechanics (i.e., nothing).


While I leave people to the devices of their choosing, I promote unconditional acceptance of the self, others, and life as a means to ease unnecessary suffering when traveling the path of life. Using this practice, you will still suffer though not from self-induced causes related to unhelpful beliefs.


In addition to acceptance of this kind, I value purpose (i.e., something to do) and meaning (i.e., value derived from purpose). Perhaps you have no other purpose than to simply live.


As expressed herein, living is accompanied by suffering. Finding meaning to suffering is contained within the work of existentialists such as Viktor Frankl and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Is suffering something you can tolerate and accept? I posit that if you’re alive and reading this post right now, you’ve certainly gathered enough evidence to demonstrate that you have the ability to endure the path you’re on.


When practicing the techniques described in this post, one may learn to truly accept one’s own path. Along your journey, you may as well collect flowers, birdwatch, take photos, or simply ground yourself in the moment and without being encumbered by attachment to unhealthy beliefs.


On this day, I’m writing this post with a sigh—something upon which I may reflect somewhere ages and ages hence. I’ve but a single path upon which I may travel at any given time, as I’ve accepted my journey through the wood, with suffering as a shadow along the way, and that has made all the difference.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW



References:


Classical Arts Universe. (n.d.). Robert Frost – The Road Not Taken – Summary & analysis. Retrieved from https://classicalartsuniverse.com/robert-frost-the-road-not-taken-summary-analysis/

DocVita. (2020, December 11). What is catastrophizing and how to stop imagining the worst. Retrieved from https://docvita.com/blog/what-is-catastrophising-and-how-to-stop-imagining-the-worst/

Frost, R. (n.d.). The Road Not Taken. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/circle-of-concern

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 13). Global evaluations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/global-evaluations

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2022, December 9). Like it, love it, accept it. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/like-it-love-it-accept-it

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/low-frustration-tolerance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 4). M-E-T-H-O-D, man. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/m-e-t-h-o-d-man

Hollings, D. (2022, June 23). Meaningful purpose. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/meaningful-purpose

Hollings, D. (2023, October 2). Morals and ethics. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/morals-and-ethics

Hollings, D. (2023, September 3). On feelings. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-feelings

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-truth

Hollings, D. (2023, September 15). Psychotherapeutic modalities. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/psychotherapeutic-modalities

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, June 27). Rigid terms of service. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rigid-terms-of-service

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2022, May 28). Stoically existential. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/stoically-existential

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-b-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2023, August 29). The Mandela effect. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-mandela-effect

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 11). Unconditional life-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-life-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, February 25). Unconditional other-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-other-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 1). Unconditional self-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-self-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, July 16). Unicornia. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unicornia

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Psychonautics. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychonautics

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Robert Frost. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frost

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Viktor Frankl. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page