What is acceptance really?

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

What is acceptance really?

It does not necessarily  mean rolling over and playing dead

The idea of acceptance has gained a lot of traction in recent times. In the more spiritual quarters it has become a very desirable ideal to strive for. However, I find that some of my clients have real problems with this concept. They seem to equate acceptance with capitulation, weakness and giving up on goals and dreams. To many acceptance seems to equate with passivity, which in a society that highly values performance a goal achievement, is simply too much of a paradox.

Is there another way of looking at this concept? I think so.

The idea of acceptance seems to mainly come into play when one is faced with issues, events or circumstances that are not particularly open to change. Those unfriendly facts that bedevil our expectation of a good world, a smooth ride or a perfect trouble free life.

Very often when faced with unwelcome facts we get stressed, irritated and angry; saying to ourselves something like: ‘This should not be happening’; ‘I can’t stand this’; etc.

In the objective world ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘could’ has no impact. If it, for instance, rains on your wedding day it should rain because the weather pattern does exactly what it does and has no human rules by which to behave; regardless of your hopes for a clear day because it is a particular season and ‘should not rain now’.  Similarly, traffic is congested in most urban areas and at busy times; traffic has no intentionality, and rationally speaking simply is as it is – in fact one can argue that it should be congested most times if we consider the sheer numbers of road users. There is no conspiracy here! So anger at the situation is pretty much fruitless.

I believe that this is where the idea of acceptance becomes useful. Acceptance means that you spare yourself the stress of opposing unwelcome events and situations that are out of your control but rather accept them exactly as they are and then – most importantly –  figuring out a work-around. When we are in opposition of something we tend to focus so much on the obstacle that we run the risk of believing that no options are possible. This can make us feel trapped and powerless. When one approaches a fixed reality with the attitude that ‘it is what it is and there must be alternatives’ new possibilities can be explored. This can in fact be a very empowering experience.

Another way non-acceptance impacts us is when we say to ourselves that we will work on our goals, a fulfilling life, or take the next step when circumstances are just right. That results in an endless wait for the perfect situation before decisive action – creating a state of near paralysis. When accepting that things are not perfect and committing to action regardless, change and progress becomes possible.

Acceptance clearly does not need to mean the same as being passive. It simply means that I can save myself the energy expenditure on futile emotion and use my energy to find alternative options. This means that we make a plan in full acknowledgement of the obstacle without hating the obstacle or thinking that removing the obstacle is the only way. In fact, it can be argued that accepting obstacles and then making a plan to find a workaround is good for us because it stimulates our creativity and ingenuity.

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