Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

acceptanceAcceptance is a word I’ve struggled with in the past because I often equated it to giving up. And because I looked at it in that light, I fought it hard and I fought it often. Until relatively recently—the past year or so—anything that wasn’t the way I wanted was unacceptable. Either there was something I could do to change it, someway I could look at a problem differently to fix it, or just flat-out work harder to make it the way I wanted. I even approached people and their behavior in this way. I always said I couldn’t change people, but I thought that I could make choices that would then “steer” people in the direction I wanted. I couldn’t just accept how others were and the choices they made.

Here are some examples: you know that friend that’s always late (like 30-45 min.)? In the past I’ve tried lying to them about when things start, or just inviting them anyway, then holding it against them (as a resentment) even though I knew they’d be late and it would piss me off. Example 2: kids get sick. Pretty much nothing to be done here—except take care of them and comfort them—but yet I get angry because I don’t like it. Sounds silly and maybe crazy? Because it is. Another example: a project I’m doing for work isn’t, well, working. I get frustrated and maybe blame someone else because there are related pieces that are out of my control. Maybe I’m waiting for someone else to finish part of it or a piece of it takes longer than I expect. I fight it and gnaw on it and I get more frustrated and more angry.

Maybe you can relate to one of these examples or maybe not. But what I’ve found is that by practicing acceptance, I’ve learned that it’s not giving up on them. What it means is that I’m not fighting things that I can’t change and thereby clouding my perspective with frustration and anger. By accepting people or situations, I’m able to relax or at least take a step back to think, and see a better solution or a more peaceful (or comfortable!) way of getting through it. Acceptance doesn’t mean that everything works out perfectly or how I want it, but it does mean that I can actually handle it.