“One of the most powerful influences on emotional health and well-being is the capacity to accept reality, to accept what is. The extent to which one can accept “what is” profoundly affects his psychological ability to adapt,” Joseph Dunn, Ph.D. Psychologist.
The word acceptance (from Latin and French) literally means “to take, receive, hold.” In accepting, you “receive with consent, give admittance sometimes give approval to, endure without protest, regard as proper, normal, or inevitable, and receive as true”. Acceptance has the power to reduce fear and enables people to live more comfortably with reality - as it is.
It is, in and through acceptance, that we are healed, released, and freed for emotional health and well-being. Acceptance is an absolute necessity for solving life’s problems. It is a key ingredient for effective coping and for mastering the challenges of life, and it is also the pathway to self-actualisation. Acceptance surprisingly and paradoxically offers you one of the most powerful transformative tools you’ll ever come across. There’s hardly anything more profound in human nature than acceptance.
The Paradox of Acceptance
All of this highlights the paradox of acceptance. What you accept, you defuse and release. And conversely, what you do not accept, you fight against and resist. Whatever you resist, you invest with energy. And when you give it the negative energy of resistance, you feed it so that it grows. As the fighting continues it becomes increasingly unmanageable and even overwhelming with the result that it comes to control you. What a nightmare!
“What you resist will persist!”
The opposite is that of just accepting yourself, life, the world, others, the constraints that you face every day, and the cards life has dealt you. By accepting you invest no negative energy of resistance. You engage in no fight. This is actually the first step to true mastery and empowerment. It is the first step but not the last.
When you lack acceptance, you lack one of the key ingredients that enables you to face reality. And that undermines your ability to cope with the basic facts of what is. When you don’t accept something, you go into states of rejecting, denying, repressing, and fighting. You pump your brain full of these kinds of thoughts which puts you at odds with reality. Rather than a friend, you become the enemy of what’s real.
What is Real Acceptance?
Over the years, acceptance has gotten a bad rap. How has this come about? It has arisen, in part, due to some of the things that have been associated with, or confused with, acceptance. So, to clear the air and restore its reputation, here are a few important distinctions that are essential for fully understanding and fully embracing acceptance. There are several things offered as acceptance which are actually pseudo-acceptance. So, what is real acceptance?
- Low Standards
- Abundance and Endorsement
- Hold standards while accepting
- Neutral Welcoming
- Rejection and Denial
- Welcoming of reality
Acceptance is not resignation. Resignation refers to giving up or giving in. In resignation you lie down and take it. That’s not acceptance. In acceptance, you welcome reality into mind and life with the purpose of effectively responding to it. In this, acceptance is not complacency or passivity.
Acceptance is not low standards. In accepting you are not lowering your standards; you are acknowledging what is. In fact, it is by that acknowledgement of what is that you are able to detect the difference between the world as you find it and the high standards that you aim for as you seek to change the world.
Acceptance is not universal tolerance. Acceptance is not just gritting your teeth and tolerating what you despise and or hate. Paradoxically, it is the lack of acceptance that actually drives perfectionism. Conversely, acceptance of what is conquers perfectionism and other forms of mental and emotional intolerance. But this doesn’t mean that acceptance is just a form of tolerance. Accepting more positively welcomes facts into awareness even facts that you might dislike. You welcome in order so that you can more fully understand and take more effective action.
Acceptance is not endorsement. You can accept something without endorsing it. You can accept a person without approving or endorsing everything that person thinks, feels, or says. Within acceptance is contentment - a contentment with yourself, others, your lot in life, with the thousands of small pleasures in life. And this basic contentment cuts away intolerance and demanding ness.
Acceptance is not abandonment. In acceptance you let another person be him or herself and responsible. No wonder acceptance is critical for relationships, because without it, people are trying to change each other. And that creates several problems, not the least of which is allowing each person to take responsibility for their own change. Conversely, acceptance enables you to suspend your defences and judgments that interfere with accurate perceptions. Relationally, the ability to live with differences depends upon your ability to accept and the quality of that acceptance.
The Power of Acceptance
Acceptance facilitates forgiveness. In fact, you can think of forgiveness as an acceptance grace. By forgiving, you are able to come to terms with major hurts that you cannot just dismiss as if they are nothing. When you accept that another has violated something important and you have addressed it so that it won’t be repeated, your acceptance acknowledges what happened and releases it. So, it does not contaminate you or your spirit. You accept that the other messed up, violated an important value to you, and you also accept that it is done and over. Now you can let it go. That’s forgiveness. You do not hold the event in your mind or memory against someone or even against yourself.
Acceptance facilitates humour. Acceptance also lies at the heart of healthy humour and laughter; it enables you to lighten up and laugh at yourself. Humourist Woody Allen illustrates a humorous acceptance, “I wasn’t born a good-looking kid, I didn’t acquire these looks until later in life.” This humour at himself, and his looks, both allows him to more fully accept himself and expresses that acceptance. Acceptance is required if you want to lighten up, laugh things off, and not take yourself so seriously.
Acceptance facilitates humanness. In these ways’ acceptance enables you to treat people as real live human beings. When you stop confusing what people do with who they are as human beings, you transcend the need to judge them. When you accept people as real live human beings, fully fallible, you can then support them by just witnessing their reality of what is, as you support them dealing with it and moving to transformational change and solution.
If you would like to learn how to access a robust state of acceptance in your life, this is where a Coach can help! Contact Modo today for a free 30-minute coaching session.
This article was co-authored with Dr. Michael L. Hall, Meta-Coach Co-Founder.
Dr. Hall’s doctorate is in Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology is from Union Institute University, Cincinnati Ohio. His dissertation explored the languaging of four psychotherapies (NLP, RET, Reality Therapy, Logotherapy) using the formulations of General Semantics. He addressed the Interdisciplinary International Conference (1995) presenting an integration of NLP and General Semantics. His Masters degree was in Clinical Counseling and Psychology from Regis University in Denver Colorado and his Bachelors of Science was in Management of Human Resources. Prior to that he took a Masters in Biblical Literature and Language.
As a prolific writer, Dr. Hall has written 58 books, another 30 serial books, over 100 published articles, and is recognized as a leading NLP Trainer and Developer. Most notable of the models is the Meta-States Model, also The Matrix Model, Axes of Change, etc. Michael co-founded, with Dr. Bob Bodenhamer, Neuro-Semantics® in 1996 as a field which focuses on meaning and performance.
As a modeler of expertise, Dr. Hall has completed 27 modeling projects which include modeling resilience, self-reflexive consciousness, “thinking,” communication excellence, sales, persuasion, accelerated learning, wealth creation, women in leadership, fitness and health, cultures, leadership, collaboration, and more.