Practicing Acceptance: How To Start?

Resolutions, intentions and goals can serve as guides to an amazing life. But what happens when we don’t meet and achieve them? Maybe this year wasn’t the year you found love or got the promotion you deserve at work. It’s easy to get down about falling short of our own expectations. In the end, though, it’s less about the idea of blind acceptance, and more about self love, appreciation and the ability to move forward.

Here’s the thing about acceptance. In many cases, we have a choice. We can either accept or reject, and much of the time rejecting doesn’t change our reality, it just causes pain.

We talk a lot about acceptance in theory, but we don’t always unpack the word. Here are five things to know about acceptance that you might not have considered:

  1. Acceptance begins with nixing judgement.

1Try to avoid thinking of situations as good or bad and simply see them for what they are. There are things outside of our control that often create an outcome that directly affects us. If you weren’t able to save enough to take a year-end trip, don’t automatically think it’s because you’re irresponsible or careless. It’s normal to feel completely responsible in these cases and to harshly criticize ourselves for it. But this is rarely the case, and negativity is not the ideal path toward advancement. Sometimes we just need to do a little adapting.

  1. Acceptance goes hand in hand with acknowledging.

2To be clear, accepting yourself doesn’t imply weakness or mean giving up and staying in the same place. Practicing acceptance means respecting the process and your current place, and also acknowledging that everything is or can be temporary. Thinking of a situation in terms of the way it makes you feel helps to visualize an experience as such.

  1. Acceptance doesn’t mean you stop trying to change for the better.

3Many people believe that acceptance is a sign of apathy. Passivity. Giving up. Relinquishing agency. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Acceptance can be practiced alongside action, as is the basis of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Practicing acceptance does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to make a change. You can accept your body and still change it, accept your emotions and acknowledge their impermanence, and accept your behavior one day when you might change it tomorrow.

  1. Acceptance shows you how to let go and move forward.

5Some situations seem to be missing the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve all been there. Even though it may seem impossible, there is always something to be happy about. It will take some time and effort, but developing the skill to seek out the positive is well within everyone’s ability. The best tool to help you fully accept yourself is the ability to always find a way to be happy and move forward.

  1. Acceptance is an active process that needs regular practicing.

Remember that “accept” is a verb. It’s an active process, one that must be practiced consciously. It’s rare that we one day choose to accept our emotional or physical pain, our bodies, our difficult relationships, or our pasts, and never think about it again. Practice compassion to yourself alongside acceptance.

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