A big part of healing and recovery is accepting what has taken place. Acceptance is an important first step for dealing with adversity and moving forward with your life.
A Fable About Acceptance
A raven, black as midnight, spied a Swan and envied her feathers because they were white as pure snow. He decided that if he lived as the Swan did, his feathers would become white.
So the Raven left his home in the woods and flew away to the lake where the Swan lived. He swam and dived in the water and ate the water plants, just like the Swan.
But his feathers stayed as black as ever. And the plants he ate did not nourish him and he grew thinner and weaker. At last, he died . . . unhappy, unfulfilled, and black as midnight. [Aesop]
“. . . accept the things I cannot change”
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Rienhold Niebuhr
This brief 27-word prayer succinctly states the first step required to recover from adversity, to deal with disappointment, and to recognize reality . . . “to accept the things I cannot change”.
Our friend Raven could not accept the reality of his condition and foolishly thought he could change it. How about you? What are you struggling with? The first step in dealing with a situation, a crisis, or a disappointment is often accepting the fact that this is the way things are. Only then can you decide if there is something you can change.
Acceptance not = Resignation
One stumbling block to accepting these things is that we confuse acceptance with condoning or giving up. “We think that accepting something means getting over it.” [Fournier] We equate acceptance with resignation.
But, as Jon Kabat-Zinn tells us: “Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it . . .” [Kabat-Zinn]
The First Step To Recovery
To begin healing and to recover from the hard, the unpleasant and the painful we encounter as a part of living, we must stop replaying them again and again in our heads, wishing for a different outcome and grumbling about the way things should be. “In order to move on, we must first acknowledge what’s happening now.” [Fournier]
Research shows that our ability “to accept the things I cannot change” is a component of our well-being. “Failing to accept reality,” says Denise Fournier, “creates suffering where there’s already pain. It creates confusion where there can be clarity, anguish where there can be peace.” [Fournier]
Therefore we don’t practice acceptance to change what has already occurred or to make ourselves feel OK about it. We accept because it’s the only thing that makes sense. Things are what they are; life is what it is. Resisting won’t change that. Once we accept, then we can rationally decide what we can change and get to work on that.
Embrace The Struggle
Not everything we need to learn can be learned from positive experiences. Sometimes, Life has to do something to get our attention. Sometimes, we need to struggle with a problem to gain the strength we need to spread our wings and fly.
What problem is life sending you right now? What reality in your current situation do you need to accept? Embrace the struggle. It is a Teacher, sent to you with an important lesson. Until you learn the lesson, your Teacher comes back again and again, giving you chance after chance.
Accept your reality. Denying it or lashing out against it won’t make anything be different nor will it help you move forward. Give thanks for the blessings of adversity — one day, they will enable you to soar. Accept the things you cannot change, then change the things you can. 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.
Aesop. “The Raven and the Swan”. Wikisource. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 April 2012. Web. 11 February 2019.
Fournier,PhD, Denise. “The Inescapable Importance of Acceptance”. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 27 November 2017. Web. 9 February 2019.
Kabat-Zinn, PhD, Jon. Coming To Our Senses: Healing Ourselves And The World Through Mindfulness. New York: Hyperion, 2005