For much of my life I’ve struggled to accept certain things about myself, others, and life that I don’t like. Being someone who is committed to change and transformation, the idea of “acceptance” has often seemed weak, wimpy, or like an admission of failure or powerlessness to me – although I have pretended to understand, believe in, and even teach the power of acceptance for a long time.
The truth is, I’ve been scared to fully embrace acceptance – worrying that if I truly accept certain aspects of myself that I don’t like, things about others that bother me, or circumstances in my life or in the world that aren’t okay with me, then somehow I wouldn’t be motivated to change them in a positive way or, even worse, I would get resigned about them and they would always stay the way they are – which, of course, to me would be “bad” or “wrong.”
The famous quote by Carl Jung, which I have quoted in both of my books and find myself saying all the time comes to mind here, “What you resist, persists.” It seems that I (and so many people I know, work with, and talk to) am constantly “resisting” (more like fighting against) the way things are. Whether it’s with our body, our work, our spouse, our family members, our friends, our co-workers, our finances, the state of the world and economy (especially these days), or many other things – we’re often arguing with reality instead of accepting it the way that it is.
Even though it can be scary and counter intuitive at times, acceptance is the first step in transformation. It’s very difficult and quite stressful (as I know from experience) to try to change things from a place of non-acceptance.
Acceptance is not resignation, failure, or agreement; it’s simply telling the truth and allowing things to be as they are. When we accept ourselves, others, and life – we can create a real sense of peace and let go of much of our suffering. And, from this place of peace and truth, we’re more able to not only appreciate life, but also to manifest the kind of circumstances, relationships, and outcomes we truly want.
Action: What You Can Do
Make a list (in your mind, in your journal, or on a piece of paper) of some of the things in your life right now that are causing you the most stress, pain, or anxiety. These things may have to do with work, money, relationships, health, things happening in the world, your body, or anything else.
As you think about or write these things down, ask yourself if you’re willing to “accept” them as they are right now. You don’t have to like, agree with, or want them to be this way…but, if you can start to accept these things, people, and situations in a genuine way – your ability to be at peace with them (and your life) and to ultimately change them in a positive way will be enhanced significantly.