Acceptance is a key concept in most therapies. Coming to a place of acceptance can provide you with relief from past events and experiences. It allows you to move forward. Acceptance gives you a clearer perspective and helps you to make better decisions. But how do you navigate this murky and often conflict ridden terrain before you can actually come to a place of acceptance?
Acceptance in the psychological sense means to arrive at the reality of a situation, to see it for what it is and not try to change it or protest it. A good test of acceptance is time , it might be easy in the moment to find acceptance for a situation only to discover later that something inside of you screams out against it.
Situations involving complex emotions or trauma can make finding acceptance really tough, more often than not we just bury it inside, residing to move on, trying not to think about it until one day it comes back. Because, unfortunately, it nearly always comes back, often in another form. I want you to know that it’s the process of coming to acceptance that’s important. It might not be easy but I can tell you that it is worth it.
Finding acceptance, especially for the unacceptable or seemingly impossible is life changing. And with the right approach it can be very effective. I’m hear to help you with that approach. And while there are many different roads to acceptance the following is just one that I utilise.
First you need to set the intention or decide that you wish to obtain acceptance. You might be trying to accept a part of your self, a situation, a realisation or somebody else’s point of view or actions.
USE YOUR AWARENESS, FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION
I recommend you begin with trying to understand as much as possible about the situation. Its hard to have acceptance without awareness. I suggest you look at the situation with as much awareness as possible. I like to take my time because lots of feelings can be brought up and it can become overwhelming. Take it slow and thoughtfully. Having a self-care plan will be helpful.
Explore the situation. Examine the feelings, memories, sensations that are there for you. Explore your reactions, your behaviour, and your thoughts that feel related to the situation you are trying to find acceptance for. Open yourself to this exploration, allow it to unfold. Practice deep breathing or mindfulness practices to help you through difficult emotional territory and remember self care is vital for any inner work.
SIT WITH IT
I then suggest just sitting with this and letting it be. Take a bit of distance, go for a walk, or do something else that is restorative and revisit it a little while later. Check in with what you have discovered. Take some time to reflect over what you understand about the situation. Remember there is no rush.
Reflection is a really important stage of any process but especially with acceptance. Its common that certain things that may have felt huge before now feel somewhat more manageable. Other things that seemingly didn’t matter so much might start to ache. This part of the process can feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. Take it slow and be gentle with your self. There are many ways to practice reflection, some people prefer to write or mind map, others go for a run or a hike, and some cook, do art, or clean the home. Reflecting gives you a chance to reassert your position. How you felt and what you knew last week might might be far from what you know and feel now.
OBSERVE YOUR CONFLICTS
It may be that you feel that acceptance is impossible, irrational or at odds with your deeply held values. It might feel idealistic too. These internal conflicts are very much part of the process of acceptance, and its important to pay attention to each one that arises.
Look at what you are fighting against. The conflict is what stops acceptance from being attained. Ask yourself, why am I protesting this situation? Maybe its because you have activated strong feelings brought up by the situation and you need time to process these feelings before you can move forward. Internal conflicts are really tough and often quite painful to bear. Coming up against big questions with no easy answers can be devastating, and living in a state of uncertainty is stressful and exhausting. Remember take it slow with these internal conflicts, tackle them one at a time and give yourself ample time to rest. This is all about gaining an adequate level of awareness. Remember the goal here is awareness not resolution.
BE BRAVE , BE TRUTHFUL
Acceptance is not agreement, its awareness without resistance or agenda. You can feel your way through the next step when you are able to be with all the feelings and sensations related to your situation. Try and be truthful with yourself, your feelings and values. Ask yourself , ‘can I sit with this, can I be with what is? or do I find my self in a state of protest to what is? There is no right or wrong answer to these these questions they are only to help you understand where you might be on the path to acceptance.
You might feel like you can sit with it today but tomorrow you are right back to where you begun, or you might feel adamant that you will never find acceptance but after a week or two you do. The process is different for everyone and its rarely quick and easy. Be honest with yourself, take the necessary time and repeat the process where necessary.
When you are able to see the situation for what it is , with out judging it, protesting it or trying to change it you are in the space of acceptance. Form this space you are able to continue working towards resolution. It is quite common to experience a spontaneous resolution or shift with some deep forms of acceptance. Another sign that you are in a space of acceptance is you are able to see the value of the situation, the value of the lesson, growth, process etc. coming into that space allows you to work with its value and this enables you to move into the space of change.
Acceptance is a necessary step in all matters of healing and growth. Its the place where tensions begins to release and movement happens. Are you are stuck in a cycle or feel like you have a process to complete that involves acceptance and letting go but feel like you require a bit of support? Don’t worry you are not alone. Working with a qualified counsellor will provide you with the support, expertise and the guidance you need to navigate this path successfully.
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