Acceptance is an idea that I often bring up with my clients in therapy. In my work as well as in my personal life I often notice people suffering due to thoughts they are having about their current situation… more often than not those thoughts are around wishing things were different or thinking they should be in a different spot in their life, relationships, career, etc. When we resist what is happening in our lives we tend to experience negative thoughts around it - which can lead to us feeling badly. Once the thoughts have negatively shaped our mood, it can then bleed into our relationships and careers. So much of our struggle is in our beliefs about what should or shouldn't be happening in our lives instead of what is actually happening. If we can learn to accept our situations as they are, I believe we can find more peace… while this is not easy by any means, it is possible. If you think this may be something you want to try, here are a few tips to get you started in working towards acceptance in your own life.
1 - Pay attention
Think of a current situation you are in that brings you stress… it could be your job or a struggle you are having with your partner or child. Think about what your thoughts are around that situation. Write down your thoughts on the topic on a piece of scratch paper or a notebook. Just paying attention to the thoughts that come in around things we believe should be different is a good way to start moving towards acceptance. It’s hard to find acceptance without first finding awareness.
2 - Mindfulness
When we find ourselves either thinking about the past or worrying about the future we are not in the present moment. I am a big fan of Eckhart Tolle’s work - he tells us that “People don't realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.” When we are able to be in the present moment we are experiencing the sounds, sights and feelings that make up that moment - and all of those moments put together ultimately make up our lives.
Try bringing your focus to the present moment more often. Even if you are only able to do it for a minute or two here and there this will help remind you that it is possible. This will inevitably help lead you to acceptance because as you allow the present moment, you allow what is.
3 - Acceptance
Finally, just think about the word acceptance and applying it to different areas of your life. If you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts about how you wish your boss would stop being a jerk and he/she should do xyz…. bring yourself back to the present moment and remind yourself that the situation is what it is. Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean that you are happy with any given situation it just means that you accept it for what it is… and from there you can make a decision on if you need to make changes in your life.
This is a very brief introduction to mindfuless and acceptance - the topics can be a bit complex. If you would like more information or further reading on these topics, please reach out to me - I am happy to provide suggestions!
If you could use some extra support in your life right now, don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor in your area that utilizes mindfulness and acceptance based work in their practice. So much of our unhappiness/struggle is based on thoughts that run through our mind - we DO have the ability to control our thoughts…. but it takes learning and work to get there.
Melissa Grohs, MA, LPCC
Counseling & Psychotherapy