What does chopping branches have to do with acceptance?
For the last few months, our garden has been a mess of uprooted trees, branches and debris after a couple of scary winter storms wreaked havoc.
Al has been working his backside off every weekend cutting and stacking logs and I’ve been dealing with all the ‘bits.’ To be honest, it was all becoming a bit tedious.
When I walked round the garden last week, it looked like we were almost at a point where we might begin to think about actual gardening again, rather than clearing, yippee!!
However, there are still massive roots sticking up and there’s some mess.
It got me thinking though… do we accept this and move on to other stuff or are we just settling for living with what we have now?
For me, acceptance often feels uncomfortable, yet it also has a sense that it’s the right decision.
Settling, on the other hand feels both uncomfortable and a bit ‘off,’ because I know there’s more I can do, and I haven’t done it yet.
And in the end, neither of us were prepared to settle on the state of the garden… so we spent another weekend of blooming hard work and now we’re both happy to get on with the nicer jobs over the next few months.
It’s a balance, you see. It's far from perfect but we can live with it.
How to Practice Acceptance in Your Everyday Life
There are many reasons why it can be difficult to accept things in our lives. Our relationships, work, and other aspects of our lives can feel challenging and often lead us to question why we must put up with them. There can also be other external factors that can get in the way of accepting things as they are. Whether it’s because of past trauma, social conditioning, or other personal factors, it can be challenging for some people to accept where they are and what they have.
Letting go of the need for what we don’t have, and welcoming what we do have, can be an ongoing process. However, practicing acceptance can be an important step in that process.
Acceptance is about being comfortable with where you are. It’s about accepting where you are and not worrying about what you don’t have. It’s about being okay with being where you are, not focusing on getting somewhere else.
Practicing acceptance doesn’t mean accepting everything that comes your way. It means understanding that you could make the best of any situation and that there are many small steps you can take to help make your life better.
What is Acceptance?
When we practice acceptance, we are choosing to see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. Acceptance means letting go of the need for what we don’t have and welcoming what we do have. Acceptance is also about dealing with the present moment and accepting reality just as it is.
Acceptance is not a goal to strive for; it is a practice. We don’t have to be “ready” for acceptance. We are simply invited to try out the practice. We may be tempted to accept the idea of acceptance as if it were a strict rule to be followed on a checklist. We may even try to force ourselves to accept things that we know are not true or healthy for us. But acceptance is not a checklist; it is a rich and complex practice that requires patience and practice.
Learning to practice acceptance can take time. It takes a little time and effort and practicing acceptance does not mean that you must like or accept the things that happen in your life. Acceptance simply means that you have given yourself the freedom to choose how you respond to and spend your time in the here and now.
How to start practicing Acceptance
1. Develop acceptance by taking notice of any resistance you feel when facing something you might need to accept.
How do you DO your resistance? Do you procrastinate or divert yourself with an unhelpful habit? Often, we don’t even realise we’re opting into these behaviours and creating negative habits until we really start paying attention… and the first step in dismantling these behaviours and habits is simply to pay attention.
2. Develop acceptance by asking yourself some smart questions.
Once you have begun to shine a spotlight on your resistance or avoidance tactics around anything that involves acceptance (and this includes self-acceptance!), you can begin to use some open questions …
when do I do this and is there anywhere else do I do this?
When did I start behaving this way in this type of situation? As a child or as an adult?
How does it help me and how does it hinder me?
You may find it’s enough just to hold these questions inside your mind and think about then from time to time, though many people find it easier to write it all down and revisit their notes, to keep it on point.
If you unearth any behaviours that stem from childhood or perhaps a work situation where at the time you had little influence over the way you were allowed to respond, this alone can help enormously with accepting who you are now.
3. Develop acceptance by taking baby steps
Once you’ve dug into some of the reasons you might find acceptance tricky, the next thing to do is ask yourself what is one aspect of the situation you might be able to accept and what is one thing you might do differently to achieve that? It can be a little thing, maybe even something that you’ve seen someone else do in a similar situation.
Give it a go and revisit steps one and two. Notice what you’re noticing and question your responses.
4. Be your own coach
Cut yourself some slack. You may be dealing with something that’s difficult or upsetting and where there are other people involved that have their own agenda.
Ease up on the judgemental self-talk enough to foster an encouraging tone. Come up with some suggestions to motivate you enough to keep exploring your options.
A nice side benefit of doing this is that you also avoid the ‘poor me’ talk and stop yourself sliding into a pity party!
5. Start looking for examples to practice on
Just like us with the garden situation, once you begin to look at acceptance in one situation, you any skill building, you get better at acceptance by practicing. Those who notice themselves judging, then actively choose a more accepting mindset find it easier to cultivate the habit of acceptance. Next time you notice that you have a choice, actively go with one of your options. People who accept themselves and others have made acceptance a mental habit by choosing a more accepting mindset time and time again. This overwrites the habit of resistance or lack of acceptance.
Finding Small Ways to Improve Your Life
You may find that accepting things as they are, while still working towards making changes that you would like to see, can have a profound impact on your life. A few small changes you can make to help improve your life are:
Accept that change is part of life and that it is unlikely to stop.
Ultimately, your goal is to make the best of any situation and find the silver lining in each change that comes your way.
Accept that there are people and situations that you can’t control in your life. While you may want to have a certain outcome for yourself, it’s unreasonable to expect that you can control other people.
Accept the situation for what it is and choose how you want to spend your energy.
Accept that you may not get the results you want from any particular effort. This does not mean that you should give up or avoid trying to improve yourself, it simply means that you are accepting that results are not a sure thing.
Accept that you are allowed to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process and enable us to grow.
Accept that you don’t know everything. This is an important part of accepting where you are. It also allows you to embrace your curiosity and willingness to learn.
Accept that you are not alone. To get through the challenges in your life and find the strength to move forward, it can be helpful to accept that you are not alone and that there are others who care and support you and you can ask for help.
Letting Go of the Need for What You Don’t Have
As you practice acceptance, it’s likely that you’ll notice that you begin to let go
of the need to have certain things in your life. You may find that some of the following examples are helpful for you in this area:
Accept that you don’t need to be perfect to be good enough. We’re often quite forgiving to others, yet we often demand it of ourselves. Let’s be clear. We are humans therefore perfection is an impossible standard to meet in any area of our lives; accepting that you are enough just as you are, without needing to be anything else, can have a profound impact on your happiness.
Accept that you don’t need a certain job, salary, house, car, or anything else to be happy. You can be happy regardless of what you have or don’t have. Accepting that what you have is not going to define you and making time to appreciate what you do have can have a profound impact on your happiness.
Once you accept that your sense of self-worth is not dependent on external things and that you are worthy regardless of your situation.
Nobody is perfect, nobody is right all the time. No situation is perfect either, no matter how good it is. It’s important to have standards but once we stop chasing perfection and accept that we don’t have control over everything, we can learn to accept what we have in life.
Whether it’s yourself, your home environment, or some other situation you are involved in, you don’t have to love or even feel happy about everything, sometimes it boils down to simple acceptance, to having weighed up the situation, our level of control over the outcome and our responses to that.
And that is one massive step up from just settling.