Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality, it brings something entirely new into the world. That peace, that subtle energy vibration is consciousness” – Eckhart Tolle

 

Life is far from perfect, it is inevitable that life has ups and downs, happiness and pain. Whether it be a personal insecurity, anxiety about an upcoming event or the job that we have, or it might be something more intense like grieving the death of a closed one, and sometimes, our trigger could be completely outside of ourselves emerging from another person who we might dislike or in some cases envy. Any unpleasant feeling whether it be insecurity, fear, or grief creates anxiety which if resisted and not dealt with can develop into constant self-loathing, jealousy, anger, and ruined relationships with others and oneself.

Oftentimes, the word acceptance sounds like a passive state eliciting that one is supposed to give up and accept defeat in terms of whatever they dislike in their lives. It is quite the opposite however, as without acceptance, there can be no change. Acceptance is not the only path to change but surely is emerging as a major pre-requisite. To be able to overcome something unpleasant in our lives, we need to first accept the trigger at hand, our feelings about it, evaluate the situation both subjectively and objectively and then be able to zoom out and take any sort of action. If we fail to accept adversity, we are only avoiding our emotions and building up resentment and self-hate which might explode at any moment.

I recently ran an ‘ACT for Hypnotherapists’ course and spent time emphasising the evidence for, and the importance of incorporating acceptance into our lives. 

 

Today’s article offers a number of ways to incorporate acceptance into your daily life:

 

1.     Understanding Acceptance

Acceptance is the internal process of approaching any negative feeling we might have about any event in our lives with a non-judgmental lens. This requires patience as judging oneself and others is the easiest thing to do especially in today’s culture where so many of us are obsessed with labelling and cancelling people, including ourselves. Acceptance is the opposite of self-cancellation with the inherent wisdom that we all make mistakes, we all have flaws, and that the good part is that we can rise above them and embrace change.

2.     Acceptance vs. Complacency

More often than not, people confuse complacency for acceptance. Complacency is often being aware of something in our lives that might bother us but lazily choosing not to do anything about it whereas, acceptance is more about mindful awareness and also recognises our desire to do something about it which requires both consciousness and courage. It requires being honest to ourselves but that can only come with true acceptance.

According to research, Complacency is often the product of lazy self-awareness or even fragmented awareness not fully processing our negative emotions pushing us to live in survival mode and live according to our default reactions to things, whereas, on the other hand, true acceptance needs us to be patient, consistent breaking psychological patterns by regulating our nervous systems.

3.     Identifying Resistance

To incorporate acceptance in our lives, we need to first identify when we most resist emotions and certain experiences. Resistance can be of two types, it can either be loud in the form of anger spells, screaming, fighting or it could be in the form of isolation whereby, people isolate themselves, stress-eat, or even harm themselves in extreme cases. Another good marker of these unhealthy resistance behaviours is that our reactions to negative experiences hurt us more than the actual experiences.

For instance, if someone says something to us that might trigger us and we respond to that with anger and then go back home regretting over our anger, feeling frustrated with ourselves for acting out of order is a great sign of the lack of acceptance in our lives. Hence, one should firstly start observing what makes them most defensive, angry, or perhaps triggers the need to isolate to be able to incorporate acceptance into their lives.

4.     Recognising Unhelpful Emotions and Behaviours

Interestingly enough, while so many negative feelings can hurt us, we also seem to love holding on to them. Many of us do not want to let go of our anger and sadness because we strangely enjoy the misery that comes with it.  It can make us feel protected and comfortable. However, a healthy and mature person while feels all emotions has the awareness that one must differentiate between helpful and unhelpful emotions and behaviours. For instance, if someone violates our personal boundary, we might be tempted to express anger and that also might seem like the reasonable thing to do.

However, a mature person would accept the fact that something unpleasant has happened, have the understanding that anger is only revolting against something which is done and only causes more stress; hence, controlling one’s anger. Acceptance does not mean that one is in agreement with what the other person does i.e., in this case one’s boundaries being violated but is instead aware both of what has happened and what would be the most helpful behaviour to deal with it understanding the transitory nature of all positive and negative emotions.

5.     Creating Context for Your Emotions

The way we deal with emotions is of a learnt behaviour stemming from our earlier life or even childhood. The way we deal with most negative emotions is sometimes how our primary caregivers treated us when we felt a certain way or how we saw them dealing with those emotions. Hence, if your natural response to a particular negative experience is hurting you, you are allowed to question it and replace it with a better coping mechanism identifying that how we respond to grim situations is not a personality trait but an active choice we make every day.

6.     Journal and Meditate

In order to accept grim realities of life, one must be first fully in touch with them. That requires consistent mindfulness. This can be gained through ongoing awareness exercises and meditation which act as reminders of not only of what is but what we need and want. According to research, This needs silence and space from the world outside for us to look inwards. Acceptance and change can only come from within and self-awareness, journaling and meditating act as great tools of introspection.

7.     Cultivating a Sense of Humour

One of the most fundamental ways of having true acceptance in life is to have a sense of humour about things and not take everything seriously and personally. So much of our pain is self-chosen, and we have in our minds decided that everything this happens to us and is said to us by another person is something deeply serious and needs to be indulged in. On the other hand, if one realises that everything is transient and learns to laugh at oneself, life becomes much easier.

8.     Talking Through Your Feelings

One does not have to carry the burden of heavy feelings all alone and should always talk to another person when having difficulty accepting something difficult in their lives. Just the sheer act of talking out loud and voicing something is often cathartic to people and helps people come to terms with a negative experience.

9.     Ego is the Enemy

Sometimes, when we are able to move past a failure and take action that is good for us, ego also plays a huge role catastrophising the entire situation in our minds. When we let go of ego and entitlement, we realise that there is so much that is not in our power, and we must let go. This is deeply empowering when we understand that being stubborn and not taking what is coming our way because in our head, we are stuck to some ideal is not a sign of being idealistic or ambitious but is rather our fragile ego which gets hurt when things do not go our way and we have to make some sort of compromise.

10. Practicing Gratitude

Sometimes resistance could also take the form of constant yearning for more. We might be always craving for more with nothing making us happy. We continuously compare ourselves to others and always feel the need for something extraordinary to happen to us and in the process completely forget to pay heed to all the blessings we already have in our lives. This is when consciously practicing gratitude becomes a must as a huge part of true acceptance and consciousness requires us to also become cognizant of the good parts of life instead of only focusing on the difficult parts.

11. Letting Go of Entitlement

People who stick to unreachable ideals, blame others or the world for how unfair their lives are, are often coming from a place of entitlement which is deeply dangerous. An entitled person believes that everything should happen according to how they wish or should always be better than how it already is because that is what they deserve. This is a deeply harmful behaviour to have as a person like this is often argumentative and stubborn always wanting something special and different out of life never being satisfied with what they have.

12. Looking at The Bigger Picture

While many times people might consider the corny phrase “everything happens for a reason” just a way to cushion yourselves in hard times, it does hold profound wisdom as nothing in life is inconsequential. Everything has a chain reaction and hence, everything that happens to us in life does not happen without reason, it either teaches us something or is just a precursor to something great in life later on. When one looks at life as something broader than obsessing over temporary moments, one is able to become more accepting of one’s reality.

13. Forgiveness

As mentioned earlier, sometimes, in life, our triggers might be completely outside ourselves. For instance, a person who might always say insensitive things to us and hurt us. In this case, none of the above tips might not work as none of them are good enough reasons to let go of someone who disrespects us even after knowing that they are hurting us. Forgiveness helps in this case whereby one accepts that one has been wronged and in order to be at peace with one’s own self and avoid conflict, one proceeds to forgive.

14. Radical Self-Compassion

One must be non-judgmental towards how we feel in all cases. If we are conditional with the compassion, we offer ourselves, we would never be able to completely heal the way we want to. Radical Self-Compassion also allows us to look at ourselves objectively as flawed humans and understand that just like anyone else, we feel emotions like envy and anger, and it is okay to do so as long as we compassionately alter our behaviours.

15. Judge Others Less

A huge way to accept more of ourselves is to be less judgmental towards other people. When we allow other people to be themselves and offer them grace understanding that everyone is on their unique journey as a person, we become more accepting of ourselves as well naturally.

 

Accept who you are, unless you are a serial killer” – Ellen DeGeneres

 

Final Word

To end with a famous comedian’s iconic one-liner, “Accept who you are, unless you are a serial killer” concludes the conversation around acceptance stating that one must accept oneself fully while of course keeping a check on one’s behaviours and how they affect other people and also seeking professional help if we are acting out in life because we are unable to accept certain ground realities in life.

Life is transitory and not as serious as we make it out to be as most people are mostly just thinking about themselves; hence, at the end of the day one has to let go of their ego and take what they have and make the most out of it. This does take a lot of practice; however, to silently observe one’s emotions and be objectives is a life-long journey and can only be mastered with consistency.

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