Acceptance: What it is and What it "ain’t" - by Lesli Davis, LCSWA, LCASA
I can remember when I started in this clinical journey of mine a while ago and noticed somethings showing up in my life that made me uncomfortable. These things, whatever they were, would continue to show up in different areas of my life and I would act as if they weren’t there or they didn’t exist. Then I was introduced to this concept of acceptance. I kept hearing instead of avoiding these things, accept them. I had this look on my face like nah, nope I’m good. How could I accept these hurtful or uncomfortable things in my life? What would that look like? So, I would continue to push these things down in an attempt to bury them so I would not have to think about it. Was it working? No lol but I did what I knew I could when I could. Until one day, I was reintroduced to acceptance again. I remember thinking, “ really acceptance again?” But something was different.
When I used to think of acceptance I remember thinking I had to agree with what was in front of me, the thing that I was attempting to push down. To accept something is to agree, uh nope I don’t fully agree with that. Wikipedia defines acceptance as a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest it.
Now, when I think about acceptance or accepting things, especially things in the past like not so good decisions, maybe bad relationships or whatever, “feel free to insert those feelings here” I now look at it as acknowledging what happened and that’s it. Not letting it overwhelm you, not telling yourself a story about what it means, not fighting it, attempting to change it and not making yourself dependent on this idea of what it means and feeling stuck with it. Holding on to that feeling or thought and/or continuing to push it down is a hard place to be. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball under the water, no matter how hard you push it down, it pops right back up. Sometimes it even will hit you right in your face.
Going back to acceptance I want to leave you with this. As humans our brains are amazingly efficient. It allows us to tap into thoughts
or past experiences that may remind us of something in the past which could be favorable or not. When you come across something that is unfavorable or that is not working and brings up those uncomfortable feelings, try acknowledging it like yep I feel this and allow it to leave. All feelings will pass if we let them. Don’t hold onto something that is no longer working for you. Let it go. It will be uncomfortable and maybe even feel weird and that’s ok too. That feeling will pass too, if you let it.