Acceptance can transform your life and your relationships for the better.
But it won't happen on its own. You have to choose to practice it.
Acceptance is a very good thing. It can transform your life and your relationships. It's also an active choice. It never happens to us by accident. It requires effort and work. It’s something that we decide and choose to practice. It is not surrender, it’s not giving up or giving in and it’s not a sign of defeat. In fact, quite the opposite.
Accepting what you cannot change right now is a powerful tool that sets you free and gets you moving forward. Because if you can accept what you cannot change then you can start working on changing the things you can.
Dictionary.com defines acceptance as: "the act of taking or receiving something offered." Often we don't want to receive what is offered which is where the work comes in!
What is acceptance?
Acceptance is humility in action. It doesn't come naturally to most of us and needs to be practiced with compassionate discipline. It comes to us with some reflection and insight about seemingly unacceptable circumstances and situations. It's the antidote to frustration and ultimately leads us on the path towards a happier, more balanced life.
Why is acceptance important?
Acceptance is important because we have rather limited control over ourselves, others and life in general! It transforms the frustration we so often feel into positive action. Acceptance heals relationships and gives strength in times of hardship. It gives you peace because it means you no longer have to fight something that you cannot control.
How does it work?
Acceptance works by aligning us with the reality of our current situation. This creates less friction within ourselves and in our relationships with others. It works by freeing us up to base our actions on what is, rather than how we want things to be.
Some good advice from my mother
My mother once gave me some very wise advice which I keep practicing in my own life and sharing with others. For context: I was struggling with my relationship with my dad. I felt frustrated with him and felt like I couldn’t reach or connect with him. Sound familiar?
I was sharing my frustration one day with my mom and she said to me, “You have to love your dad as he is, and not as you want him to be.” It took a while for the words to sink in, but this advice ultimately transformed my relationship with my dad and others.
This is the power of acceptance in action. I have a better relationship with those closest to me because I choose to be more accepting.
Acceptance is also not something you get once and then you're magically accepting of everyone all the time. Unfortunately not! Life just doesn’t work like that. Acceptance, like all the Concepts, requires practice. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
When to practice it
It can be tricky to know when to be accepting and when to have the courage to change things or speak up. There's definitely no one-size-fits-all rule. A good rule of thumb is thinking about whether you have control over a situation. If you’re thinking that you have control over another person, then you’d be wrong. You just think you have control over them because they're allowing themselves to be controlled by you. Unfortunately, that's not healthy and it’s not going to last.
Why is it difficult to practice?
Often it can be difficult to tell the difference between the things we can change and the things we need to accept, because we’re often just too close to our own issues. One of the benefits of coaching is that you get to work with someone who shows you an outside perspective and can help you sort out this confusion.
Often our biggest challenges in life are opportunities to practice acceptance. For some reason, the things that often feel like the most unacceptable are the things that we benefit most from accepting. It’s worth bearing in mind that this may be a process and working with an experienced coach that you trust can be extremely beneficial when trying to untangle the complexities of real life situations and relationships.
Is it working?
You know you’re on the right track when you experience a sense of relief when you decide to practice acceptance in a given situation. Remember that you don’t have to be accepting all the time in all situations. But if you can find some acceptance of a situation that you can’t change, then you should feel a little lighter and be able to shift your attention and focus on changing the things you can. The serenity prayer can be a powerful way of reminding us to practice both acceptance and the courage to change the things we can.
Struggling to find acceptance?
If you’re having trouble practicing acceptance then you may find it useful to explore the Concepts: forgiveness, patience and humor. These three Concepts have a powerful transforming effect and could give you enough perspective to find some acceptance.
Acceptance can radically improve your relationship with yourself and others. But it doesn't come naturally and working out what you can and can't accept is not always easy.