Acceptance does not mean approval!

Image result for accept does not mean approvalWe have discussed what it means to accept something - to accept something means to acknowledge that it 'is what it is'. It does not necessarily involve LIKING what is happening...and I think this is where many of us struggle.

For example, imagine a tough day: you are late for work, you got into an argument with a friend or loved one, you spilled coffee on your shirt...oh, man. What a day! To top it all of, you are stuck in traffic on your way home, and you remember that you have an assignment due tomorrow. Or an overdue bill. And burst. This. is. too. much.

You feel tired, angry, frustrated, and 'up to your limit'. You feel the tension and fatigue in your muscles, the strain in your neck and back, and the ache in your heart. You have every feeling to just scream. Or cry. Or both. Actually - you don't even know WHAT you need. You just feel...awful.

The hardest thing to do in these times is to just...accept. Yup, you heard me. Accept that it is what it is. You might not be able to change what is happening in your life now. You might not be able to control the circumstances, people, events, etc. What CAN you control? You can control how you deal with the situation. You might not APPROVE of what is happening. But you can ACCEPT it. You can accept that what is happening now, to be blunt, sucks. And you can notice, observe, and accept that you feel terrible, irritated, sad, lonely, etc.

Image result for common humanity self compassionDoes that mean you are happy with what is going on? Does it mean that feeling this way is easy and that it will pass immediately? Definitely NOT! The difficult moments, emotions, and thoughts may very well continue for a while. And this is something you cannot necessarily change. So, instead of fighting it, instead of asking 'why', instead of blaming yourself for your emotions - just accept them. 

You will start to notice that the less you judge yourself for having tough/sad/frustrated feelings and thoughts, the faster they pass. This is because you allow yourself to be HUMAN - to feel things. To go through the waves of ups and downs in life - which we all experience. This is the principle of 'common humanity' - see this site for more information on this (by the way, Kristen Neff's work on self-compassion is WONDERFUL! We will talk about this in future posts).

Image result for common humanity self compassion
What is the take-away? Emotions and thoughts - even when they are very uncomfortable, terrifying, and hurtful - will pass. In these times, don't try to push them away. Don't judge yourself. Don't think too much about it. Instead, let things be. You don't have to approve of how you feel. You don't have to approve (or believe) your thoughts at the time, especially if they are of despair, hopelessness, etc. But you CAN accept them. You can let them play their role, and pass, like a train on a track. A cloud in the sky. Are these metaphors overused? Possibly. But it is only when you TRULY practice these principles of acceptance that you can grasp just how powerful this is.

The more you practice non-judgmental acceptance of what you are going through, the easier it will be for you to recuperate, to overcome the challenges in life, and to make a plan to face whatever it is you are dealing with.

Image result for acceptance quotesRepeat to yourself: I might not like what is happening. I might hate the fact that I cannot control this, and that I feel awful, uncomfortable, worried, scared....etc. But it is what it is. Rather than trying to deny my emotions, to resist my emotions, or to struggle with them, I will let them be. I will honor that I am having a tough moment now, but I also know that it will pass. Everyone experiences moments like this - I am not alone in this. It will pass - I have 100% record of all my previous days and moments passing.

This, too, shall pass. I may not approve or like what is happening, but I can accept it.

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