When I first talk to clients about acceptance, they often assume acceptance is the same thing as giving up. “What do you mean I need to accept what he did? Am I supposed to pretend it’s okay when it’s not?!” We have this idea that acceptance means saying something is okay and then putting up with things we aren’t okay with. This idea of acceptance feels hopeless and disempowering. It’s giving up.
True acceptance isn’t saying something is okay when it isn’t. Instead, it’s seeing the facts of the situation and then doing what we need to do for ourselves.
True acceptance is empowering instead of disempowering.
I went on a walk the other night with my roommate’s dog, Charlie. He’s this handsome, tall Great Dane. I’d told my roommate I’d walk him since he was at work. I took a look outside. It was cold and windy, the dark night clouds looking like they wanted to rain.
“This weather is awful. I wish it was still summer. One of those warm summer nights so I could wear shorts and sandals. Socks are such a hassle. How am I suppose to walk him when it’s cold?”
That doesn’t really sound like acceptance does it?
This is complaining. This is wishing that things were different than how they are. It feels hopeless. It’s acting like I’m a victim to the weather and it's the opposite of acceptance.
We think acceptance is disempowering, but it’s actually complaining and not accepting how things are that gives away all of our power and makes us feel hopeless.
Acceptance is more like this:
“I’m taking Charlie out for a walk,” I look outside. “It’s cold and windy out there. Let’s find a warm sweater, and maybe a jacket with a hood.”
There’s no drama. There is no pretending I’m a victim to the weather and that the weather is going to ruin my night. There is just a simple acceptance. It’s cold out. If I want to be warm, I’m going to put on a jacket.
Acceptance means I did what I needed to do for myself. It didn’t mean I changed the weather. It meant I put on a jacket.
The next time you feel yourself complaining instead of accepting, say to yourself,
“Okay, this is the situation, what do I want to do?”
Acceptance is powerful,
P.S. Charlie and I had a lovely warm walk in the darkness.