The issue of acceptance comes up a lot for me in my own life and during my sessions with clients. The idea of accepting whatever is happening in our life at this present moment. If you're like me, when I first heard about the concept of acceptance I thought it meant to somehow condone whatever was happening to me or around me no matter how offensive it is.
This meant, if someone was treating me in a way I found to be disrespectful, I had to tolerate it. Or, if I was watching a story on the news about atrocities against children, I had to take the position that what was happening was “okay”. And, of course, with this interpretation of the meaning of acceptance I felt extreme resistance and an outright rejection of the concept. How on earth could I "accept" these types of injustices?
However, what I have come to learn about acceptance is that it has nothing to do with condoning or pretending like something you dislike is “okay". Instead it has to do with truth. If you bring truth to a situation, ‘real raw honesty’ - you can respond to any situation from a far more empowering place. So, what does this mean? Well, in the example above where a person may treat you in a disrespectful manner, a common reaction may be to get defensive and become angry because we think to ourselves that “this should not be happening”, alternatively, we can deny that it is actually happening and begin to minimize the experience by talking ourselves out of what we are feeling. By responding in these ways, we are essentially resisting what is actually happening.
If we respond with the truth we can actually bring acceptance to the situation. By being honest, we are able to access how we feel about any situation, what the situation is triggering in us and where these feelings originated from. With this information we can dig deeper into what the situation actually represents for us and then respond accordingly.
Applying this process to the above example with the disrespectful person (who may be my boss), if I were to respond with acceptance, I can say to myself:
- What is happening for me - I am finding my boss is acting disrespectfully towards me;
- Why? Because his/her actions remind me of the way my mom used to speak to me when I was in trouble, and I do not like it;
- Bringing myself to the present moment - This is not my mom speaking to me and I am not a child, therefore, I am not ‘in trouble’, so…
- What is the most loving thing I can do for myself in this situation right now – Well, this is my boss and I do not want to jeopardize my job, so I don’t feel yelling back is an appropriate response. Okay, is there a way that I can still speak up for myself? Yes, I can respond by saying something like – “I sense that you are really upset by what happened. I want you to know that was not my intention. From my perspective, I did what was right. Nonetheless, I would like it if we could discuss how you would prefer I address the issue, so we can find a mutually satisfactory resolution.”
On the other hand, sometimes the most empowered response we can have towards a situation is to walk away from it, let go and turn it over to the power of the universe to support us in working it out. Either way, we give ourselves the chance to be guided by love instead of fear. By bringing acceptance to any situation you are able to defuse your emotions so you can access your inner wisdom to know how to transform a situation and bring an empowered response to it. This goes back to the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer (particularly the first part):
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.
I would love to hear from you about how you are able to practice acceptance therapy. Please comment in the section below.
My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult.
Looking forward to connecting!
Best, Sandra xo