The Power of Acceptance October 9, 2017 – Posted in: Advice, Confidence, Personal Development, Relationships – Tags: acceptance, advice, change, confidence, gratitude, growth, happiness, life, peace, Personal Development, positive thinking
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you just accepted everything as it is without judgement, without trying to change other people, and without complaint?
What if life were a river you were simply required to swim in; going with the flow, navigating all the twists and turns, and rocks and rapids, and tranquil spots along the way?
How would your life be if you stopped trying to control everything and started simply living with ‘what is’?
I tried living like this for a day once many years ago and it was one of the best days of my life because I wasn’t wasting my energy complaining and worrying, which left me free to crack on with life as it came to me. I noticed such a profound shift in my perspective when I practiced acceptance that I now try to practice acceptance (note the word ‘practice’ – I am very much still learning) everyday. I’ve learnt the hard way that non-acceptance is a form of insanity and denial, and a one-way-ticket to anxiety, anger and unhappiness.
When I don’t accept the facts of the moment (through complaining, judgement and other forms of narration) I put myself at a disadvantage because I find myself complaining about something that is already true. I’m saying it shouldn’t have happened but I generally don’t get to decide what happens! One thing I do know is that I’m not God so how on earth can I decide what should or shouldn’t be happening?
Here’s an example: My Dad died at 55 (I was in my twenties) and many times in the ensuing years I found myself thinking that he’d ‘died too young.’ But who am I to say he should’ve lived into his eighties? How do I actually know that it would’ve been best for him to stay alive? I don’t know that because I don’t know what happens (if anything) after we die and I don’t know what else he might have suffered if he’d stayed alive. He was very ill so on one level I imagine death was a relief for him.
When I was in non-acceptance “he shouldn’t have died so young” I felt terrible grief, anger and victimisation. Since I’ve learnt acceptance I have an easier relationship with his death. It’s what happened and I was lucky to have such a lovely dad for as long as I did. Acceptance, in this instance, paved the way to gratitude.
Acceptance is one of the most powerful states of mind you can be in because once you’ve accepted the reality of something you are then at your most empowered to do something about it.
Here’s an example from a conversation I once had with a client…
Client: “I can’t accept that [my husband] left me for that woman! He should suffer for it.”
Me: “Okay – I understand you’re angry but I remember you telling me last month that you kicked him out. You said he didn’t want to leave you and the children but when you found out about the affair you told him to go.”
Client: “Absolutely! He was unfaithful!”
Me: “Yes, and many of us would respond in the same way. But you say you can’t accept that he left you when the truth is he only left because you told him to go.”
Client: “Yes, okay that’s true.”
Me: “So, what is it you really can’t accept?”
Client: “That he had an affair.”
Me: “Yes – that’s really painful. Remind me when the last time you and your husband were intimate?”
Client: “Three years ago. I didn’t want him near me – he makes my skin crawl.”
Me: “Why’s that?”
Client: “I don’t know. I don’t love him or fancy him. We’re only really connected over the children.”
Me: “Did you tell him this?”
Client: “I did. I said I never wanted to sleep with him again.”
Me: “Do you think that might have had any bearing on him starting an affair?”
Client: “Yes but he shouldn’t have done it. We made vows to love, honour and respect each other!”
Me: “Did you always love, respect and honour him?”
Client: “Not in end, no… Oh my goodness! Of course he went and found someone else. He was probably as lonely as I was in our marriage…”
What you see from the above is just how powerful acceptance can be. It shines a spotlight on the truth and stops us believing the lies we tell ourselves about how things should be. Acceptance does not mean that you allow people to walk all over you but it does mean you stop resisting the facts. It breaks through your denial, allowing you to make decisions with a clear head. My client was eventually able to divorce her husband whilst remaining amicable co-parents of their children.
But she was only able to do this because she bravely accepted the truth. When I accept “what is” rain/traffic/late client/unhappy kids etc, I can then respond accordingly because I’m not wasting my time inventing stories about how things should be. Things are what they are – my job is to live my life, the best I can, regardless of whether the sky is blue, or grey.