Acceptance has never been one of my strong suits. I, honestly, don't have a laid-back bone in my body. I've always found pride in being driven, being a hard worker, being creative and in my ability to get shit done. For years, I shushed away the idea of acceptance, seeing it more akin to apathy, weakness or powerlessness. Don't get me wrong, I knew acceptance was important; many great teachers have spoken about it. It's one of those Big Topics that seems to be required for spiritual maturity, personal transformation, and for being a decent human being. But secretly, I didn't want to accept that I had to accept. (I told you: stubborn.)
The Universe, knowing me and my tenacious ways, had other plans for me and over time relentlessly upped the ante (divorce, losing all my money, single parenthood, blind dates) until I either had to spontaneously self-combust or surrender into acceptance. Under duress, I chose the latter. And I'm so glad I did. I'm a few years into my acceptance practice, and I now see that I resisted acceptance because I didn't understand what it really meant, and how profoundly it would change my life (in a good way).
Here are five steps that I found to help me drop my resistance and find joy in acceptance.
1. Know what acceptance isn't. Many of us get acceptance confused. Acceptance doesn't mean condoning, liking, wanting, choosing or even supporting the circumstances, choices or behaviors of others. Acceptance simply means that you acknowledge life is as it is. It means that you stop arguing with what happened, what is happening, or what is going to happen. It means that you stop arguing with what is and, instead, look life straight in the eye.
2. Acceptance is something that you do. Accept is a verb, it's something that you do and continue to do. It's an internal action. It's not apathy, it isn't passive and it doesn't just happen to you. Acceptance is definitely not for the weak of heart. Acceptance is a choice which requires a tremendous amount of strength, courage and presence.
3. Real revolution begins with acceptance. It's easy to get confused about this one, to think that acceptance would stop us from being activists or advocates for change. But the truth is that acceptance is required before any real change can take place. Change doesn't happen from a place of resisting the truth, it comes from the place of deeply acknowledging the truth.
4. Acceptance is giving permission for the truth to be the truth. This is really the key to understanding the freedom that acceptance offers. It's a deliberate act of granting permission, a purposeful act of allowing, that opens us up to the feeling of joy and liberation. The thing is, life is going to do its thing with or without your consent. Once you surrender to this understanding, you can drop the resistance and silently offer your blessing. Saying yes to life means saying yes to joy.
5. Grace and joy are found in unity with truth. The Course in Miracles has a beautiful quote, "By grace I live. By grace I am released." I have come to see acceptance to be a lot like grace. It's a state of harmony with what is. By choosing to live in harmony with what life offers, in acknowledging the truth and in giving consent for the truth the be the truth, we can all live in grace.
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