True acceptance brings perspective and power. Power to make a change. Or the power to face a situation you cannot change. And perspective to know which it is.
“What you resist, persists.” ~ Carl Jung
The First Step
A daughter has a stroke and her life changes forever. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer. A son is stricken with a debilitating disease and becomes disabled. A spouse has become disoriented by dementia and has to be placed in long-term care. A child commits suicide.
How does one cope with difficult life changes such as these? How do you begin to put the pieces of your life back together? One of the first steps is acceptance.
You’ve gained 20 pounds and you know you’re not eating healthily. You frequently reach the end of the month broke, unable to meet all your expenses, and you beat yourself up about your inability to control your spending. You and and your spouse constantly nag and snipe about minor things which he or she does that irritate you. You get passed over for a promotion at work and you know you are better qualified than the one who got promoted.
These are not life-altering events and may seem minor to the heart-wrenching experiences some are living through. Still, they can be disruptive to healthy thought patterns. How do you get past these disappointments and stumbling blocks? One of the first steps is acceptance.
Don’t Give Up
(Please NOTE: I am neither a medical professional nor a licensed counselor. If you are struggling and simply cannot accept or move past a situation you are dealing with, I urge you to seek the assistance of a qualified professional.)
Some of us fear acceptance. We find it difficult to fully accept anything, good or bad. If something fortunate happens, we worry it won’t last. When something unfortunate happens, we worry it won’t end. “It may seem easier to simply ignore issues you don’t like and not accept them as reality. But this can lead to worse trouble down the road – including both physical and mental health issues.” [Hope Grows]
Some of us fear that acceptance will lead – not to change – but to resignation and giving up. When you face an overwhelming situation, it may seem impossible to accept. It seems easier to abandon hope and give in to the misery.
But don’t give up. Don’t give in to the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Acceptance is acknowledging your feelings, then finding ways to change what you can. [Hope Grows]
Choosing To Accept
Truly accepting brings a new perspective and power. Power to take steps toward making a substantial change. Or the power to begin facing a situation you cannot change.
Acceptance is not giving up or giving in. It is not surrendering. But acceptance is taking things as they are, not as you wish they would be or think they should be.
True acceptance is hard. Changing and moving forward is harder. But you know what the hardest thing of all is? Staying stuck where you are.
The Stages Of Acceptance
Dr. Steve Taylor is a professor of psychology at Leeds Beckett University and the author of several books. In a blog for Psychology Today, Dr. Taylor identifies the four stages of acceptance that he has developed while dealing with situations in his own experience.
Here are the stages of acceptance identified by Dr. Taylor.
Stage 1: Awareness. “Become aware of your negative feelings and the thoughts which accompany them. Try to verbalise these – if the situation allows it, write them down.” [Taylor]
Stage 2: Pay Attention. “Give your attention to the reality of your situation. Be mindful of your feelings and your surroundings.” [Taylor]
Stage 3: Replace Negative Thought Patterns. “Replace your negative thoughts with conscious positive thoughts. Ask yourself ‘What’s really wrong with this situation?'” [Taylor]
Stage 4: Let Go Of Resistance. “If there is any resistance left, let go of it. Don’t mentally push the situation away, welcome it. Embrace the situation.” [Taylor]
Actions – Do What You Can
To begin the process of acceptance, start by listing things in your life that are causing you stress, anxiety, or pain. In the Hope Grows blog, the author writes, “By doing so, you can really think about each issue. Some cannot be changed and must be accepted. Others can be changed. But the first step is acknowledging that they exist and how you feel about them.” [Hope Grows]
The items on your list may concern your job, your finances, your relationships, your health, your body, your family, or events in the world. Look at the items on your list and “ask yourself if you’re willing to ‘accept’ them as they are right now. You don’t have to like, agree with, or want them to be this way… but, if you can start to accept these things, people, and situations in a genuine way, your ability to be at peace with them (and your life) and to ultimately change them in a positive way will be enhanced significantly.” [Robbins]
Acceptance is the first step of dealing with a situation. Sometimes it is the only step . . . “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” says Reinhold Niebuhr in the Serenity Prayer.
Once you have reached a stage of acceptance, you can move forward by taking the next step, whatever that may be for you.
Pain is inevitable. Resisting it, denying it, ignoring it only prolongs the pain and leads to suffering. There is another way. Choose acceptance. That is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Acceptance™ — identifying and accepting the things you are struggling with — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing, of well-being, meaning, and purpose.
Read more about the Excelerated Life™.
“The Positive Power Of Acceptance.” Hope Grows. Hope Grows,,. Web. February 21, 2020.
Robbins, Mike. “The Power Of Acceptance.” HuffPost. Huffington Post, February 28, 2011. Web. February 21, 2020.
Taylor, PhD, Steve. “How Acceptance Can Transform Your Life: The Four Stages of Acceptance” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, Aug 19, 2015. Web. February 21, 2020.