5 Benefits of Practicing Acceptance [PLUS 3 Tips on How to Do It!]
Have you ever heard someone saying, “Meeting life on life’s terms” and wondered what it means? For some, it’s quite a radical statement that can trigger many reactions ranging from resistance to anger, stubbornness, and surrender. But, how about acceptance?
Understanding the feeling of acceptance has various meanings for different people. For some it’s about being okay with something or someone, for others it means giving in or letting go. You may view acceptance as an act of forgiveness or as preventing a habitual reaction that could result in a negative outcome.
Whatever your take on acceptance, one thing is for sure. Practice it daily and you’ll soon discover the benefits of accepting life on life’s terms. Keep reading to find out what I mean!
What Does Psychological Acceptance Mean?
Psychological acceptance refers to the ability to accept things as they are without trying to force or actively change them. It’s a non-judgmental approach to the way you think, feel, and behave which allows you to exist as you are.
Acceptance is an act of mindfulness – you accept life experiences for what they are without wanting to alter, deny, or avoid them altogether. While you may find acceptance easy, many others struggle with the process and need to consciously work hard and with wisdom to practice this valuable life skill.
The Serenity Prayer describes acceptance eloquently with the following words – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
5 Benefits of Practicing Acceptance
1. It’s a Helpful Tool for Overall Well-Being
Accepting that your thoughts, emotions, and actions may not always be desirable is key to living a healthier life. Self-acceptance allows you to observe your more difficult emotions such as boredom, frustration, sadness, anger, or disappointment without defaulting to resistance, judgment, or criticism of self.
Avoiding these emotions or thoughts associated with these feelings creates more harm than good and can be detrimental to your mental health.
2. It Builds Resilience
Going through a painful experience is going to make you feel lots of pain. That’s a given unless you’re a robot! However, you have a choice as to how you respond to an unpleasant event, be it a person or situation. You can default to resistance and amp up the pain. Or, accept what’s happening, be kind to yourself, and let the pain dissipate as and when it does.
Suffering is the result of a combination of pain and resistance. The following wise words from Eric Greitens describe the benefits of accepting pain as part of life’s many lessons – “No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength – if we have the virtue of resilience.”
I truly believe from acceptance can come resilience.
3. It Reduces Unnecessary Frustration
Frustration is a feeling most of us are accustomed to, be it with someone who disregards the rules of the road or a situation that makes you feel incompetent or out of control. If left to run rampant, frustration can lead to bigger emotions such as anger and sorrow.
Accepting that the world isn’t what you had expected it to be can help minimize the risk of experiencing feelings of frustration, rage, sadness, or disappointment. Acts of acceptance for a life that is less than desirable reduce the chance of feeling demoralized or drained.
4. It Allows You to Let Go and Move On
Practicing acceptance is a powerful tool for letting go and moving on. It allows you to get out of the dangerous “I am stuck” mode which otherwise leaves you in a place of “if only's”, “should haves”, or “what ifs.”
Acceptance gives you permission to let go of those relationships or situations that no longer serve you so you can move on to bigger and better things. Accepting that some people or situations aren’t ever going to change means you’re dropping expectations and can demonstrate tolerance and loving-kindness for yourself and others.
5. It Breaks Destructive Patterns
Through practicing acceptance, you start to recognize and question patterns in your life. By observing your difficult emotions and undesirable behavior and accepting them, you start to highlight patterns that don’t serve you. You question why they exist in the first place.
Formative life experiences result in habitual patterns that can be destructive, causing chaos as we grow up. Understanding these experiences and how they taught you to think and behave in a certain way gives you the opportunity to accept them for what they are. Only then can you break their destructive hold on you.
"Acceptance is all about the art of coexisting with reality, instead of mentally resisting it." - Dylan Woon
3 Tips for Practicing Acceptance
1. Be Mindful
Mindfulness lets you become aware of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior or actions. By being mindful you’re creating a space for observing your experiences with an open and expansive mindset. This includes being non-judgmental, uncritical, and loving towards yourself.
Meditation is a wonderful tool for mindfulness and practicing acceptance. Stopping for a moment and observing your feelings is another way of being mindful so that you can practice acceptance.
2. Learn Detachment
Learning to step back and detach yourself from a person or situation that normally triggers a reaction is an empowering way of practicing acceptance. Through detachment, you can accept that something or someone is out of your control and there’s no need to get overly emotional about it.
Detachment allows you to be an impartial observer, knowing that whatever happens, it’s going to be okay. Holding onto something or someone too tightly out of fear of losing it or them means you’re trying to force life to go your way. Accepting that some things are unattainable gives you breathing space to change and live a life that matches your needs in a healthy way.
3. Think of Your Inner Child
You can practice acceptance by thinking of your inner child as someone that needs to be cherished, nurtured, and loved unconditionally. When you remember your inner child as that person who was full of innocence and vulnerability once upon a time, you’ll treat yourself with more acceptance.
When thinking of your inner child (and this means remembering yourself as a young girl or boy) ask yourself the following questions:
Would you harshly criticize that child for making a mistake?
Should you berate the child for having a temper tantrum when they’re feeling fearful?
Can you be judgmental of a child who is feeling vulnerable because of unknown fears?
Thinking of yourself as a child will help you be more accepting of low self-esteem, unworthiness, or anger because of something fearful. Instead, acceptance allows you to be loving and gentle towards yourself.
Practicing acceptance has many benefits including keeping you sane and emotionally balanced. It brings you a peaceful life and allows you to experience contentment even when life deals you with lemons!
These books are empowering reads if you want to learn more about practicing acceptance.
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha - Tara Brach
The Gifts of Acceptance: Embracing People and Things As They Are - Daniel A. Miller
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