We often talk about acceptance as if it has a specific image – you know, this is what acceptance looks like. But that’s not true. Acceptance can take many forms. Sometimes it’s reconciling, sometimes it’s letting go, sometimes it moving on, sometimes it’s neither, sometimes it’s a unique blend.
Let’s jump right into our first two points.
Know what you are accepting
You’re anxious because you don’t know what to expect. You tell yourself that no matter what happens it will be okay with you. You’ll accept it. Things take a change for the worse. You struggle to keep it together because you feel anger/hurt/embarrassment growing inside. What went wrong with your whole acceptance plan? Several things actually, but let’s just focus on one right now. You were trying to accept an unknown.
You can’t reconcile yourself to an unknown situation. You can’t wisely promise to agree to something you don’t know about. You can’t know if this situation is even one you wish to accept. Knowledge really is power here. Blind acceptance is neither healthy nor real. When situations arise, take the time to find out what’s really happening. Too often, we react based on partial knowledge or false information. For example, we receive the opinions of others as facts or use one tidbit to create an entire scenario. If you really want to make peace with something, a rushed, offhand statement will not do. Acceptance is not just words; it is a whole mental event. It requires commitment and discipline, just like anything else that is worth it.
Regardless of what form your acceptance will take you need reliable information, you need truth, before you can carry on with the process.
Acknowledge it as true
If it’s reality then it must be acknowledged as the current truth. You may not want it to be real, but not acknowledging it leads to denial in your life. Authenticity and denial can’t live together.
You’ve gathered what facts you can, and now you must look at each of the important facts and acknowledge them individually. I used each and individually in the same sentence – it’s that important. Have you ever worked at ‘getting over’ something and then one, just one, overlooked fact arises and you think, Had I realized that I would never have…? Individual facts are important. Don’t take the story as a whole; break it down into its individual parts and acknowledge each part. Torture is not the aim, although it may seem like it. The aim is to have a true understanding of the situation before making any decisions. The aim is to push your mind out of numbness and into feeling and thinking again. The aim is to make denial impossible. The aim is to figure out how you really feel about it all, as opposed to how people expect you to feel.
Make no mistake, society’s expectations do influence our feelings. If a loved one dies and we are not weeping all over ourselves, tongues begin to wag. So we pretend. We pretend in our relationships more often than we’d like to admit. That is another reason this step is so important. Now is the time to do the hard work of differentiating between what we should feel and how we really feel. Why is it hard? Because we’ve been mixing these things for so long that we honestly don’t know the difference sometimes. Because it’s difficult to admit to ourselves that we’ve been fake for a long time. Because once we separate these two and find the inner freedom of feeling our own feelings and thinking our own thoughts, our relationships will change – and that may be scary. Most things worth doing are.
Think about it and let me know your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Photo 1: From <https://unsplash.com/photos/OkZ59BcCtDo>