How to Practice Acceptance When What-Is is NOT What You Want

How to Practice Acceptance When What-Is is NOT What You Want

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. – Michael J. Fox

Photo by Graham Johnson on Unsplash

We’ve all heard that acceptance is crucial to living a happy, worry-free life. Yet, some things are just un-acceptable, right? 

Like this coronavirus situation… Maybe you’re not happy with the state of the world right now and all the consequences and inconveniences that have put “normal life” on hold. That would definitely come under “unacceptable,” wouldn’t it?

Well, maybe.

You see, “acceptance” has two definitions. We’re most familiar with the one that allows us to accept new friends into our circles or accept something good into our lives. This kind of acceptance means that whatever you’re accepting is adequate, favorable, or you know, “acceptable.”

However, the core definition of “acceptance” is to receive what’s offered. This kind of acceptance comes into play when you accept a gift. This is the acceptance that accepts the passing of a loved one. This is the acceptance that accepts that the sky is blue, even though you might want it to be cotton-candy pink. This type of acceptance keeps you sane and in touch with reality.

You may not like sheltering-at-home. You may be overwhelmed trying to work from home with your spouse and kids 24/7. You may be worried about the loss of income or job. Or you may just be fed up with wearing a mask everywhere, or washing your hands every time you turn around. 

Whatever is bumping up against your “unacceptable,” try these three simple ways to practice acceptance. (Your health and your happiness will thank you.)

Accept What’s Happening

Instead of giving in to your judgments or attempting to micro-manage your experience, take a deep breath, and accept that “It’s like this now.”

Breathing slowly and deeply helps you connect with your body and puts you in the “now” moment. (Not somewhere in the past, longing for what used-to-be, or sometime in the future, hoping for this to be over with.)

Deep breathing also engages your body’s natural calm response. When you’re frustrated, resistant, or feeling any kind of “stressed-out,” that mindset puts you in survival mode or fight-flight. And in that hyper-alert state, your body arms itself for danger – the same as if you’d just opened your backdoor and saw a troop of lions crouched behind the azalea bushes, poised to attack. (Not good!)

Breathe. It is what it is. No need to get all winded up to fight or run from those imaginary lions!

Accept Your Limitations

You can’t do everything. Nor can you control everything. Accept that you can only do so much, and you’ll gain access to the strength and energy needed to do what you can with everything you have.

It’s about taking your foot off the brake. Let me explain…

Imagine you’re in the car at a stoplight and your foot on the brake. (As it should be.) When the light turns green, though, instead of moving your foot to the gas pedal, you start cursing the car for not moving. Frustration mounts and you begin to curse life itself. You complain about how everyone and everything is against you. You recount the ways nothing ever went your way. And… well, you get the gist. 

What’s the real problem here? The real reason why can’t you get moving? 

Your foot is still on the brake, of course. Soon as you let your foot off the brake, the car is free to move wherever you want to go.

It’s the same with life when you get frustrated, irritated or upset at things you can’t control, or when “life” doesn’t go the way you’d like. Negative mindsets blind you to the possibilities of what could be and steal precious energy that you could have used to think creatively, brainstorm solutions, or find the ‘silver lining.’

Accept Uncertainty

Maybe things will turn out well for you. Maybe things will turn out horribly. I don’t know. You don’t know. And that’s okay. Not knowing is okay. You can’t forecast the future, so relax. Let go of the need to know.

The truth is, we’re still in the middle of this coronavirus “story.” Heck, when you microscope out to look at the ‘Big Picture,’ you’re still in the middle of this phase of your whole life’s story.

So don’t jump to conclusions. Most of life itself is “I don’t know” – especially as you’re going through it. Only hindsight can offer an opportunity to discern what might have been “good” or “bad.” 

The real culprit underlying uncertainty is fear – fear of not being able to handle it, whatever “it” is. But the fact that you’ve made it this far in life proves – without a doubt – that you can handle whatever comes along. 

So, relax and regroup. Accept what’s happening, because like it or not, this is what is right now. Accept your limits and give yourself the energy to do what you can with what you have. And finally, accept the fact that life is uncertain and that you’ve already proved you can handle it. 

In the world of improv comedy, players construct scenarios and act them out on stage. The trick? They accept everything that’s offered then add something to it.

What can you add to your current situation? Accepting things for the way they are allows you to find the gift, the silver lining.

How will you practice acceptance today?

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