Acceptance is a term that is commonly used but often not fully understood. We may know that we need to accept something, but do not know how or are unaware of the benefits we receive from acceptance.
What is Acceptance?
Acceptance means to come to terms with something. Typically, when we are considering acceptance, we want to stop fighting against whatever it is that we dislike and are rejecting. The hallmark phrase of radical acceptance could be the quote “it is what it is.” I realize that people tend to have polarizing views on this quote – so feel free to come up with your own if this one is not for you. It is exhausting to reject reality and often leads to more and prolonged suffering.
Acceptance is like the phrase “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” Painful things happen in life. Part of living is things do not always happen how we want them to. We experience things like rejection, grief, disappointment, and physical and emotional pain. While we cannot necessarily prevent these things from happening (i.e., pain is inevitable), we can stop or shorten our suffering by practicing acceptance. Acceptance is often a helpful tool for dealing with the most difficult things in life. If we can accept these painful aspects of life, it can help us to learn, grow, and move forward.
What Acceptance is Not
Accepting something does not mean that we agree with it or like it. It does not mean that we condone anything either. There is often a misconception that by accepting something, we are being passive or giving up. This is also not true. We are simply choosing to stop using so much energy fighting against things we cannot change and are instead putting our time and energy into what we can focus on and what we can change. Lastly, acceptance is not a one-and-done strategy. It is something that we must choose over and over for ourselves. Acceptance is like walking down a trail and coming to a fork. We can choose the acceptance path or the non-acceptance path. After we choose the acceptance path, we will come to another fork in the road and another. By continuing to choose the path of acceptance, we continue to choose a healthier mindset and to support our growth.
How Do You Practice Acceptance?
Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step guide to practicing acceptance. Acceptance is more of a mindset and a way of thinking. If we catch ourselves thinking things like, “why does this always happen to me?” or “this isn’t fair,” it is generally a sign that we are not accepting things. Why questions are usually a sign that we are not accepting something. Instead, we can ask ourselves questions like “what can I learn from this?,” “how can I move forward?,” and “how can I support myself through this difficult time?”
If you think you may benefit from learning more about how to practice acceptance, give CCA a call at 816-781-8550.
By Jill Robinson
LCSW, LSCSW, RPT-S™, CAS, CAAPT