Feeling stuck? Trapped by circumstances? Perpetually misunderstood?
Left unaddressed, these feelings will lead to resentment, bitterness, and other negative emotions that prevent you from moving forward with your life and health goals.
No one deserves that. So, what might be possible for you with a new level of acceptance?
Acceptance involves exploring the intricate and complex relationship between desire, change, and control. Let’s dive in!
This post contains a prayerful meditation for acceptance. Scroll to the “Try this…” header to skip directly to the meditation.
Keep reading for more details on acceptance– including what it is, what it is not, and what’s required to achieve it.
What is acceptance?
Acceptance is a state or stage of consciousness you can obtain by processing your emotions and practicing various techniques of self-development. It’s an end-state that results from doing deep inner work. And, in terms of health benefits, acceptance can be a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression.Acceptance is a state of consciousness you can achieve by doing deep inner work.Click To Tweet
Acceptance involves acknowledging the idea that you may not always get what you want. Your desires may go unfulfilled. And even if that’s the case, you can still have a fulfilling, meaningful life. Instead of giving up, acceptance can help you reframe your perspective.
When you desire things that are outside your control (at least for now), you may resist change or existing circumstances, and become angry or depressed. Resistance, anger, and depression can cause a lot of pain and suffering over time. The good news is, acceptance provides a way out.
No matter where you are, you can get to where you’d rather be by taking small steps toward your goals. You can always alter your course along the way and decide on a new end goal. The point is: When any of the course-corrections and changes you make are your idea, and you make them on your own terms, you are in control. And when you’re in control of the things you can control, everything becomes easier to accept, including the things that are not within your control.
Acceptance is based on non-permanence.
Acceptance requires recognizing the transient nature of all things. All things are temporary. This includes the changes you’re in control of and especially the ones you’re not. When you realized that very few things in life are actually permanent, accepting things that are less than ideal becomes much easier.
Acceptance is a life skill.
Acceptance is an important life-skill that allows us to move through life with ease and grace. Think about how many quotable quotes you’ve heard in popular culture that remind us to grow our capacity for acceptance.
This too shall pass. Everything has a season. Get a grip. It is what it is. Don’t push the river. The prevalence of quotes like these indicates acceptance is not only a necessary life skill, but a challenge to master.
Acceptance is the beginning of your path forward.
While acceptance may be a life skill that is challenging to master, it is important to work on to daily because it provides a starting point for your path forward. Once you have reached the point of acceptance, you can begin to repair and rebuild relationships, heal your emotional and spiritual wounds, and chart your course to a more successful peaceful future.
Acceptance is the opposite of denial.
Acceptance is the opposite of denial. You don’t get to run and hide from your situation and pretend to have achieved acceptance from the safe confines of your cave. To deny is to refuse to face reality. a lack of alignment. (whereas resistance is a full-on misalignment; a turning away from or betrayal of alignment.) In many ways, acceptance and denial are opposites. You don’t get to skip steps in the process or paint a pretty picture over it.
Is grief a factor?
Acceptance is a stage of grief, according to the well-known Kübler-Ross model. When you experience a loss, you’ll cycle through a variety of stages including denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before arriving at acceptance.Acceptance is one of the stages of grief: After a loss, you'll cycle through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before arriving at acceptance.Click To Tweet
This is important to realize because grief can enter our lives through any sense of loss or perceived loss, not just death. Any time a desire goes unfulfilled, a change occurs, or a circumstance spirals out of control, a perception of loss may arise. Then grief comes into play.
If you’re struggling with acceptance, it may be helpful to examine the extent to which grief or anticipated grief is involved. When you anticipate a loss you may experience the emotions associated with grief before any actual loss occurs. Start by asking yourself: What have I lost? Or, what am I afraid of losing?
Whenever there is a loss– actual, anticipated, or perceived– it’s natural to cycle through the multiple stages of grief before landing on acceptance. Be patient with yourself if grief is involved, because getting to acceptance and maintaining it will be more even more challenging.
Acceptance involves allowing your full range of emotions. When you accept something, you make space for it and allow it to be, as-is. When you accept something, you give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel about the thing you are accepting. You don’t add drama, shame, or anxiety to the baseline feelings. You feel them and allow them to run their course. Yes, pain may be present. Deal with the pain by acknowledging and allowing it. Pain does not necessarily lead to suffering if you choose otherwise.
Acceptance is NOT…
Sometimes it’s helpful to understand what a concept is by exploring what it is not.
- Acceptance is NOT the same as liking, choosing, supporting, or endorsing something. Just because you accept a thing does not mean you approve it. This is an important distinction because many people refuse to accept things they do not approve of.
- Acceptance is NOT the same as giving up, giving in, capitulating, or allowing yourself to be victimized or bullied. Because acceptance marks the beginning of your path forward, it empowers you to take a stand. Acceptance is especially important when your opinions and beliefs differ from those of others because it provides an opening for a conversation.
- Acceptance is NOT the same as losing. While acceptance may lead to surrender, surrender is not the same as loss. Pick your battles. Control the things you can, and let go of the things that are not yours to control.
- Acceptance is NOT compatible with resistance. For example, children having temper-tantrum meltdowns are in a place of active resistance. Adults protesting political and social policies are also actively resisting. If you are in a state of active resistance, you are not able to cultivate a state of acceptance.
- Acceptance does NOT mean change is out of reach. In fact, acceptance makes change more available to you because when you are in a place of acceptance, you are more open to change. And you’re more likely to bring a positive outlook to the change you are trying to create.
- Acceptance is NOT easy. To accept a thing, sometimes you must embrace its unpleasantness. Acceptance is not as easy as “getting over it.”
When we understand what something is not, it brings clarity to our experience and introspection.
Acceptance requires active practice.
Acceptance becomes easier the more you practice over time. So, how do you practice acceptance? Begin by learning techniques for managing emotions.
There are many health benefits of acceptance: Its profound calming influence helps us manage anxiety and stress effectively. Acceptance comes as a result of allowing the full range of emotions to fully process. Begin by recognizing your emotions and learning ways to improve your emotional state.Our ability to practice acceptance is related to how well we manage change.Click To Tweet
Our ability to practice acceptance is related to how well we manage change. We often assume that if changes need to be made it is up to us to “make things happen.” But it is helpful to ask: Is the situation really yours to change? The only thing that is truly in your capacity to control is your own reactions and behaviors.
Almost every circumstance can be boiled down in this manner. Other people will react and behave in their own way– and it is not your job to control them. You may provide direction, advice, and guidance, but ultimately, it is up to them. Keep returning to this concept.
Here are some steps to take if you’re struggling with acceptance:
- Focus on the present moment.
- Release your personal desires and preferences.
- Surrender your will to the greater good. Control the things you can. Let go of everything else. The only things you can truly control are your own actions and reactions in the present moment. Breathe that in and embrace it.
- Understand that everything changes and those changes are not always because of, or up to, you.
- Acknowledge reality without resistance or denial. Remember when you are in resistance you are out of alignment with your highest purpose.
- Nurture objectivity. Discern the facts. Separate facts from emotions. Allow what is. If you can be comfortable with how you are being, then you can let others be as well. Live and let live.
A power-tool for cultivating acceptance
As part of your active practice, you can also leverage other tools you may already have in your toolbox, including mindfulness practices like non-judgment.
Non-judgement is a practice in and of itself. That’s how difficult it is! Non-judgment difficult because the human brain is hardwired to judge. It’s part of how we make instinctual decisions related to safety and survival.
But whenever we allow a constant stream of uncontrolled, preconditioned judgments to dictate our thoughts, emotions, and actions, we fall into a trap: We begin to lose control when we judge too much.
It sounds like such a simple thing to notice your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It is simple. And yet, it’s difficult. Which is why it requires consistent practice.
When you give yourself permission not to judge, you may notice that you become way more relaxed. That’s because there’s no friction– no grasping for more, no resisting what you find, no ignoring or denying life’s experiences.
In the space of non-judgment you don’t need to take action because there’s no action to be taken. You don’t need to do or say anything. Simply appreciate the wholeness of the present moment. Simply be still. Simply be.Don't seek to eradicate or eliminate your judgments, simply seek to change your relationship to them.Click To Tweet
Don’t seek to eradicate or eliminate your judgments, simply seek to change your relationship to them. Notice them. Honor them. Thank them. Then let them go. Success in this practice opens up a whole new dimension of life experience.
Begin with these steps. Whenever you notice a judgment coming up:
- Notice the judgment and direct your attention to it.
- Observe what comes up in your body or mind related to the judgment.
- Acknowledge and honor the thoughts that come up in association with the judgment.
- Do not denounce or reject the thoughts. Do not cling to the thoughts. Simply allow the thoughts.
- Gently release the thoughts with gratitude.
- Fill the space once occupied by the thoughts you just released with the color and tactile sensation of your choice – yellow warmth, for example.
Try this …
If you’re in need of acceptance for yourself, or if you’d like to accept someone, something, or some circumstance, this prayerful meditation or some portion of it may help. Use this prayerful meditation on its own, or in combination with other tools for cultivating acceptance
A Prayerful Meditation for Acceptance
by Lane Therrell
Assume your preferred posture for meditation. If you don’t have a preferred meditation posture, try sitting comfortably with your back supported and your feet flat on the floor. Keep a copy of the words you’d like to use during your session easily visible.
Open the session in your preferred manner. If you have a specific visualization, sound, or process you like to use to mark the beginning of a session. Otherwise, simply begin by speaking the following words.
Please allow me to accept my self, my circumstances, and others, as they are. Grant me the grace, courage, and strength to manage the changes in my life. Grant me also the wisdom and discernment to recognize the things that are mine to change. I defer to your will in support of the greatest good and I trust the peace I’ll find from letting go.
Pause here, and engage your preferred style of meditative breathwork. If you don’t have a preferred style of breathwork, try inhaling to the full capacity of your lungs, hold your breath for several seconds, and then exhale fully until your lungs are empty. Hold your breath another few seconds before inhaling again to start the next breath cycle.
Notice how your breathwork affects your body. Continue the breathwork for as many cycles as feels right to you in the moment. When you feel ready, proceed to the next step.
Read the following affirmations to yourself or repeat them aloud. Consider performing a full inhale-exhale cycle in between each statement. Or, read each item in succession. Repeat any item in the list as necessary.
- I am fully aligned with the greatest good.
- I am open to changes that support the greatest good.
- I act in service of the greatest good.
- I make my needs known.
- I trust that my needs are met.
- I step into my power.
- I am confident.
- I can solve any problem that is mind to solve.
- I manage change appropriately
- I respect myself.
- I respect others.
- I am responsible.
- I am engaged.
- I exercise discernment.
- I practice non-judgment.
- I easily let go of anger.
- I release depression, and other forms of negativity, with ease and grace.
- I allow the full range of emotions to flow through me.
- I release the emotions that do not serve me.
- I am in the flow.
- I let go.
- I release my personal desires and preferences.
- I surrender to the greater good.
- I am persistent.
Pause here, and re-engage with your breathwork. If you feel drawn to repeat all or any of the items on the list, please do so now.
Repeat the entire process if needed. When you feel ready to do so, begin bringing the prayerful meditation to a close with the following words:
I give thanks. And so it is. Amen.
Inhale and exhale deeply. Engage further with your breathwork as desired.
Conclude your prayerful meditation session in a manner appropriate for your practice. You may wish to write down any insights that came to you during the experience.
Some of the statements noted in bullet points above are familiar and recognizable as stand-alone affirmations. Affirmations are not dependent on any appeal to a higher power. When used correctly, affirmations can be a powerful mindset-shifting tool. Because they can operate independently from spiritual practices, affirmations can provide a source of structure and comfort on their own. I find that bringing prayer and meditation together is helpful to me personally, and to many of my clients. But if prayerful meditation doesn’t work for you, I encourage you to explore other wellness techniques. As a holistic health coach, I’m happy to help with that.
Prayer is a form of spiritual connection as well as a component of religious practice. Meditation is not as difficult as you may think. The health benefits both are fascinating and are well-documented in the medical literature.
I’m so grateful to have found that when affirmations are used along with a prayerful attitude, an intentional connection with a higher power, and relaxing meditative techniques, I can instantly feel better– even in the most unsettled of times.
Please share your thoughts on the following questions in the comments below.
What words might you prefer to use in a prayerful meditation for acceptance? How might you change the words you found in the example in this post to suit your own needs? What meditative postures, tools, or techniques might you integrate to create your own prayerful meditation.