As you probably know by now, I believe that simple shifts in our perspective can bring about the most significant changes in our lives. For me, acceptance has brought me peace of mind and allowed me to work through all sorts of negative situations and beliefs. It has brought me to where I am today, from someone who suffered badly with depression from 10 years of age to living in gratitude and joy (most of the time!)
What is acceptance?
Some people think that its giving up, giving in, saying “that’s my lot, thers’s no point doing anything about it”, “that’s just the way things are”, “its in my genes”, ie to most people acceptance = an excuse not to do anything about it or worse still, some people believe that in order to accept, they must condone a behaviour. No! Not at all, it’s never ok to be a victim or the perpetrator of any kind of abuse or bad behaviour.
So, acceptance is
- accepting the present moment, in whatever form that presents itself to us.
- Acknowledging that whatever it is has happened.
- Seeing things as they really are.
Acceptance is NOT:
- condoning behaviour, deeds or saying that it’s ok.
Without acceptance we cannot change who we are, move through limiting beliefs, learn to love ourselves for who we are (yes I know that sounds all flowery, but isn’t that the ultimate?), or basically change things in our life. We remain stuck in blame, shame, and even worse, lethargy, not bothering to do anything about it as what’s the point? This leads to anger.
When we’re not in acceptance, we are in denial and that takes lots of energy! We’ve to keep up a façade and a story that goes with this denial delusion, However, when we are in acceptance, we say “ok this is the way things are, I’m not happy with this, what can I do to change my reaction to this?!”
To share a story with you as I have done with some of my clients already:
A few years ago I was quite overweight. I’ve always been slim as I was always sporty and I was fortunate enough never to have to really think about my weight. So it was a bit of a surprise to me when I found myself squeezing into clothes that were too small for me. I denied the fact that I was overweight by reassuring myself that at least I could still fit into them! I was miserable though and eating helped with that misery. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror but every day I’d fool myself into thinking that I wasn’t really overweight, the clothes had shrunk in the wash, it was hot so I must be retaining water….all the usual excuses. I was in a river in Egypt and it was called denial, with a capital D!
I remember exactly the day and the moment it changed. I decided I needed to confront my fear and weigh myself. The digits on the scales told me I was now heavier than my father, I was good 3 stone heavier than I was used to and I was growing…outwards.
I remember, in that moment, thinking I can get angry about this or change my response. I knew that getting angry about it would only send me to the biscuit tin, so I chose to laugh. I laughed…rather hysterically and told a few friends that I was the fattest I’d ever been but I was ok. They, understandably were a little concerned both by what I was saying and the tone of my voice! But I was actually happy and very relieved. I sat in front of the telly with an apple and from that moment on, I started to loose weight. I stopped denying and I accepted.
Eckhart Tolle puts it quite simply in this u-tube chat with Oprah. He says that acceptance of a moment is simply seeing what is right now. It’s an acceptance of the “isness” of this moment. Huh? Yep I had to replay that twice but they put it into a great example, changing a tyre. You can get all upset, angry and frustrated with the tyre, your car, the person with you as somehow they are responsible, you can even get upset with the road, mutter loudly about it as you go about changing it and even let it affect the rest of your day. OR you can say, my tyre is flat, ok and it’s raining! Right, this is what is in this moment…….and change your tyre in a different way, in a way that doesn’t affect you or the people you encounter for the rest of your day! See the difference.
You don’t have the power to change what is going on around you but you do have the power to choose how you respond to the moment.
This can also be applied to anything in your life, from situations with your boss to partners to a general dis-satisfaction with your life. If you feel any of these, then accept them as they are (remember it’s not condoning behaviour), you will find a shift within you and you might even begin to see some solutions.
To view the full 15min video from Eckhart and Oprah, click here: