Thursday, September 10, 2015 - Author: Chris B.
Acceptance, I believe, is the key to solving most of our problems. When I'm not mentally healthy, it's often because I find people, places or situations unacceptable to me. I had to take a step back and think about who I am. Who am I to say what is and what isn't acceptable? It's important for us to accept things just the way they are at any given moment in order to maintain our sanity as well as our serenity. A lot of us suffer from an illusion of control, which makes it much more difficult for us to accept things. Once we realize our powerlessness, we feel liberated.
Accepting People for Who They Are
I don't know about you, but I want people to accept me for exactly who I am. Whether I'm rich or poor, single or married, fat or skinny or black or white, I want the acceptance of others. The problem is that it's sometimes much more difficult for me to give people the same acceptance that I want for myself. I speak to a lot of friends who have difficulties with the people in their life, and I've found that they have the same problem that I do. They have a difficult time accepting people for who they are.
A phrase often used in relationship counseling in psychology is "Accept it, change it or eliminate it." If I can't change it or eliminate it, then I need to accept it. We find this situation most commonly in our personal relationships with others. It might be our family, friends, co-workers or bosses. When we're upset with another person, it's because we find what they're doing to be unacceptable.
Have you ever had one of those friends who make all of the wrong decisions? Maybe they're constantly dating people who are absolutely wrong for them or they aren't as motivated as you think they should be. These types of situations used to aggravate and irritate me to no end. I'd get upset with these people. Then I had to analyze why I was getting upset, and I realized it's because they weren't doing what I thought they should be doing.
One of the greatest things about being alive is that we're all so different. You can travel around the world or the country and see different cultures everywhere. That's what makes this world such a beautiful place to live. We all grew up differently and have had different experiences. We all have different things that make us happy. Each and every one of us has the right to be who we are, so we should accept that of one another.
Not only does acceptance of others make the other people more tolerable to be around, but also it makes us much better people to be around. Now, there are times when we don't mix with certain people, and that's totally fine. Just remember, you have the power to accept it, change it or eliminate it. None of us are stuck in a friendship or relationship that we don't have the ability to get out of if our personalities collide and cause a disturbance of peace.
Acceptance of Situations
Have you ever been in a rough situation where you know it would have been perfectly fine had you or someone else just done something differently? We all have. Accidents and incidents happen to all of us, and we tend to dwell on the past. We think about what we could have done to change the outcome, which causes us to get upset and dwell on it.
It's important that we accept these situations for what they are so we can move forward. There are some people who have had traumatizing situations in their past, but the healing process begins when you're able to accept it. Some of these events were completely out of your control, so you're spending time trying to analyze what you could have changed about something that's already happened. This may result in doing things we don't want to do like forgiving ourselves or forgiving someone else, but we can learn from these situations and grow from them. If we're lucky, we can use our experience, strength and hope to help someone else who is currently dealing with a similar situation.
Acceptance of Loss
The most difficult situation any of us will ever have to endure is the loss of a loved one. When we break it down, it's because we can't accept the situation. We feel that it's unfair and not right, but again we have to admit our powerlessness over the situation, which will help with the healing process.
I have recently had to be there for my family because we found out my grandfather has lung cancer, and my grandmother has had a lot of health issues recently as well. My mom's been calling me a lot more than she ever has before, and I'm grateful that I can be there for her. I talk to her a lot about acceptance.
I love both of my grandparents very much, and my grandmother is without a doubt my favorite family member. It was difficult hearing the news about both of them, but I have to accept it. They're both lucky enough to have lived amazing fulfilling lives, and they're both extremely grateful for that. I had to realize that it's not mentally healthy for me to sit and dwell on the situation and obsess about the things that I cannot change about it.
This is obviously easier said than done, but once we begin to accept all of these situations for what they are we can then find some sort of peace. This is also where spirituality comes into play. Spirituality is not religion, but it's believing in a power greater than yourself. Whether it be some sort of Higher Power, nature or anything else, it's knowing that things are exactly the way they're supposed to be.
I personally draw a lot of hope from the serenity prayer, which is all about acceptance:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.