Have you ever struggled with thoughts like these: ”I am a terrible person”, ”I am worthless”, ”This should not happen”, ”Why is X not a normal person?”
If so, then you might have a difficulty accepting yourself and other people, or some aspects of life.
In this article we talk about acceptance and how to improve and increase it. Because, did you know that increased acceptance can actually make you happier?
Acceptance is a learned skill. It has been found in research [1 – more research at the end of the article] that we can learn how to become more accepting through practice and this has immense psychological benefits.
What is acceptance?
Acceptance is a skill that can be learned and improved over time. It is the ability to non-judgmentally accept the good and the bad in life. This includes thoughts, feelings, people, events and your past and future. Acceptance does not mean that you are resigned to a victim role or that you give up your power. It is about working towards your greater good while being open to what happens. Acceptance requires mindfulness and meditation to help train the mind to let go of judgment and criticism. It is an important skill to develop because it allows you to live in the present moment and work towards your goals without resistance.
Accepting things can help us live in the present moment, work towards our goals and help us prevent stress.
Acceptance is a skill that can be trained. It is not something that anyone innately has or doesn’t. It’s the ability to face things as they are and to go with the flow without reacting to what’s happening around us, to accept who we are and who others are, and to embrace life just as it is for what it offers.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t experience negative emotions or reactions to things or people, but rather that you will be better able to manage them. This means not reacting in the moment with fear, anger, sadness, disgust etc., which are perfectly natural emotional responses. Rather, acceptance means being able to recognize these feelings and thoughts for what they are, and letting them go.
I will say it again, acceptance is a skill that can be trained.
Life isn’t always easy, and we come across situations every day that challenge us to our limits. However, it’s how we choose to deal with these challenges that affects the quality of our lives and happiness in the long run. Acceptance is a skill that can be trained, but it requires consistent effort and practice.
You can find so much peace of mind if you accept. You can’t always change the circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. This is an important distinction to make, because if you believe that you don’t have control over your life and the world around you, it’s difficult to feel good about yourself. In addition, without acceptance many people struggle with negative thoughts and feelings such as anger, sadness, irritation and depression.
Acceptance is not easy, but it makes life far more manageable. It’s the ability to step back and acknowledge that this is just how things are right now in this very moment, and you can choose to respond differently instead of fighting against what is happening. In addition, it will help you live a happier and more content life, while reducing your stress.
Some tips to develop your acceptance:
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes you’ve made and for the mistakes you might make in the future. It’s not easy being human after all! Look at these as learning opportunities rather than something to beat yourself up over.
- Spend time with people who bring out a positive energy in you and distance yourself from those who put you down. A good support network is invaluable when it comes
- Embrace your feelings. Rather than trying to bury them or distract yourself from them, accept that you feel the way you do and find comfort in knowing that it will pass.
Acceptance is a skill that can be trained.
Accepting something in your life be it good or bad has a lot to do with your perception. The way you see things influences how you accept them. The more negative your perception, the less likely you are to accept situations. On the other hand, when you have a positive attitude towards something, you’re more likely to be open to it and embrace it in your life.
Accepting your emotions can be difficult, but it’s essential for developing emotional stability and resilience. When you experience a negative emotion, the natural response is to fight or run away. Unfortunately, this just makes things worse. It is only through accepting how you feel that you can begin to move past it. This does not mean suppressing your emotions. Suppression will likely result in your emotions resurfacing later, often at an amplified intensity.
Acceptance shows us a path to be happier and at peace with ourselves and what happens in the world, and with other people. If you are unable to accept reality as it is, you can’t possibly be happy with how things will turn out for you. Accepting means understanding that certain aspects of life are beyond your control and allowing yourself to let go of trying to change them. When you accept things, you remove your resistance to what is and reduce the emotional charge of the situation.
You cannot always control what happens in life, but you can control your response . Instead of fighting against reality, try changing how you look at the world by changing your perspective or thoughts on a matter. It takes time to change your perception of the world, but with practice, you can learn to respond in an accepting way.
What it means to be accepting
When you are accepting, you are non-judgmental of yourself and your experiences. You do not try to change or fix things, but instead allow them to be as they are. This can be difficult because it goes against our natural inclination to resist what we don’t want or like.
But by accepting things, we can let go of our resistance and move towards our greater good. We can also begin to see the world more clearly without all of the filters that our judgments and biases put in place.
When we accept others for who they are, it means that we are able to see them for all of their positive or negative attributes without trying to change them. We do not put them on a pedestal nor do we devalue them because they are different from us. Accepting does not mean that you agree with someone’s practices but it means that you stop fighting against the fact that we all have different values and we live our lives differently.
When you accept your past, it does not mean that you did not learn anything or that you just let everything happen. You can then take what lessons need to be learned and apply them moving forward.
Accepting your future does not mean resigning yourself to a life of misery without goals or purpose. It does mean being open to possibilities, even if they are not what you initially wanted.
Accepting your present does not mean giving up all of your goals and desires. You can still work towards the greater good while being open to possibilities for your life. This is not about resigning yourself or settling, but rather having flexibility and patience with life and the process it takes to get where you want to go.
Thoughts that show resistance and non-acceptance
Below are examples of thoughts that people have before they are able to be more accepting:
- “This shouldn’t have happened. It’s not fair!”
- “I can’t stand this!”
- “Why is this happening to me?!”
- “I shouldn’t think like this. It’s not good for me.”
- “This thought isn’t helping me.”
- “I don’t deserve this. I shouldn’t feel like this.”
- “[X] shouldn’t act like that! They are so inconsiderate!”
- “I wish [X] would start acting like a decent human being!”
Benefits of acceptance
Acceptance brings many benefits to our lives. When we accept what is happening, we are able to let go of judgment and criticism, which in turn allows us to move forward without resistance. Acceptance also allows us to be more present in the moment, which can lead to increased peace and happiness. Additionally, acceptance helps us to connect with others more compassionately and without judgment. Lastly, acceptance is an important tool for problem solving and working towards our greater good.
Acceptance brings peace. When one is able to accept reality for what it is, they can no longer wish or hope for life to be any different than what it already is. This takes away a lot of stress related to trying to change things.
Another benefit of acceptance is that it does not discount the importance of empowering yourself, taking responsibility for your actions or developing strong problem solving skills. Acceptance can be used in conjunction with many other life skills to solve problems and get the results that you want. (example communication and empathy).
How to apply acceptance
Here are some tips to start accepting things easier:
- Start by accepting one thing at a time . This might be easier achieved over a period of months or even years. You can’t expect yourself to accept everything overnight.
- Be patient and kind to yourself. It’s not an easy thing to do and it takes time and effort.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation to learn how to non-judgmentally accept whatever happens in your life, both the good and the bad. This is one of the best ways to build acceptance skills.
- Accepting your negative thoughts and feelings is one of the hardest aspects of this skill, but there are some simple ways to get you started.
- Your thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t necessarily reflect reality and you can change them if you work on it. Accept and challenge your negative thoughts . Ask yourself whether thinking a certain way is really helping you achieve what you want or not. If the answer is no, try shifting how you think about things so that they are more positive and empowering.
Accepting negative things and events that happen in your life does not mean that you submit yourself to a victim role. This is not about letting people or circumstances walk all over you. Rather, it’s about accepting what happens and knowing that in the end you will be okay. Allowing yourself to go with the flow means working towards your greater good without pushing against reality all of the time.
Here are a few starting points
Notice what is happening. Is it what you would have wanted or expected to happen? What’s the worst that could happen if you accept the current reality? Would accepting this reality move you towards what you want, even though it might suck for right now?
Think of a situation where you feel uncomfortable or emotionally triggered. How could acceptance help you in this situation? Remember that it doesn’t mean agreement, but acceptance means at peace with the present moment without resistance.
Remember that even though applying acceptance might initially increase our pain, eventually we will move towards resolving the issue and experiencing peace and happiness.
For example, when we are faced with a difficult situation, we can apply acceptance to help us move through the situation more effectively. Acceptance allows us to let go of judgment and criticism for things in our life.
Acceptance is great for your work-life too! When we accept a situation at work, we can let go of wishing it would be different and instead focus on getting the results that we want. For example, if you are having problems with your boss or co-workers, accepting these relationships as they are will allow you to see more clearly where you may need to take action in order to protect yourself or to transform these relationships.
Acceptance is also helpful for developing self-acceptance and self-compassion. For example, if you start off on a new weight loss journey and find yourself obsessing over the number on the scale, acceptance can provide some relief from these negative thoughts and emotions. Acceptance does not mean we agree with our reality, but simply that we allow ourselves to be with it without judgment.
Acceptance is something you need in your relationships because it helps you connect with others without judgment. When you are feeling anxious, irritable or triggered by someone else’s words or actions, it can help to adopt an attitude of acceptance even if the situation is not ideal.
Where can you apply acceptance in your life?
You can apply this skill to various areas in your life including but not limited to the following:
Your emotional state
This can be challenging because it requires you to face your negative emotions like anger, sadness, fear and disgust. But if you are able to accept these feelings without trying to change them or make them go away, they will pass more quickly. Acceptance is helpful when dealing with anger, guilt or shame. Rather than suppressing these emotions and pretending they do not exist, acceptance allows us to explore our feelings more deeply which can help us to resolve the issue quicker. For example, if you are feeling ashamed of something you have done, you can accept the feeling and then work on resolving it.
Your physical body
Accepting your body is a skill that many people struggle with for various reasons. If you try to fight against how you look or feel, this creates an internal conflict which can be very damaging mentally and emotionally . When we fight against reality without accepting the situation, we are more likely to feel negative about ourselves and others. Our on-going efforts to change or fix something that we hate about ourselves can lead to feelings like depression and anxiety because of the constant failure. However, if you can accept your body for what it is right now (e.g., without judgement), then this will allow you to focus on living your life and feeling good about yourself in the present.
Accepting your body is not only about the shape of your body, but also the qualities you don’t like about yourself such as your weakness, reduce self-consciousness by accepting that these things exist. Some people will lament the fact that they are not perfect. But if you focus on what you do have instead of obsessing over your perceived flaws, it’s easier to accept yourself. No one is perfect—we all have our own flaws and our own shortcomings. Learning how to be kinder towards yourself can make a big difference in how you feel about your body.
Accepting people for who they are
Accepting others does not necessarily mean you like them, it means that you acknowledge the person for what they are.
Accepting your past
To live in the present moment, you must let go of the past and give up any self-blame or regrets. It may be difficult to move forward if you don’t forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made in the past. The sooner you accept what happened, the better off you will be.
Accepting your future
This is only possible when you are not expecting other outcomes or resisting reality. Just accept whatever may happen because you can’t change it anyway.
Accepting yourself for who you are
Self-acceptance is different from self-esteem. You can like yourself and still not accept everything about your personality or attitude. Be fair to yourself by accepting who you are without judgment or criticism.
You don’t have to change yourself or stop being who you are in order to develop acceptance. Self acceptance does not come easy, but it is ultimately liberating. It means accepting what is out of your control and focusing on what you can change instead of wasting time worrying over the things that don’t really matter (like pesky insecurities). You become free to be yourself.
Accepting other people and their behavior
We all have different personalities and opinions—accepting this will help you respect people despite their differences. You can still think that someone is wrong or has a bad attitude but try to accept them for who they are anyway.
Accepting what you cannot control
You can do everything in your power to resolve a situation and still not get the outcome that you want. Rather than wasting energy wishing things could be different, just accept it and move on. Then, turn your attention to finding ways in which you can fix or improve whatever it is that you are unhappy about.
Once you accept that there are things that cannot be changed no matter what you do or how hard you try, it becomes easier to let go of resistance and move on. Acceptance does not mean giving up all your goals and just going with the flow. It’s about accepting those aspects of life that you cannot control while continuing to focus on the things that are within your power.
Acceptance of reality
If your goal is to accept reality, then you should do what makes you happy. If it makes you happy to fight against the current all of the time, then do what brings joy into your life. You might want to start by noticing how often you resist reality. When something unpleasant happens, notice if you are telling yourself that it shouldn’t be happening or fixating on wishing things were different. The more aware you become of your resistance to reality, the easier it will be for you to accept things when they are unpleasant.
21 Tips on how to develop acceptance skills
Acceptance is a skill that can be learned over time with practice. Below are some tips to help you develop acceptance skills:
1. Practice mindfulness and meditation. This will help you train your mind to be non-judgmental and open to what is happening in the present moment.
2. Be patient with yourself. Acceptance is not a quick or easy process, but it is worth the effort.
3. Be accepting of your thoughts and feelings. Do not try to change them, but instead allow them to be as they are.
4. Be accepting of others, including those who are different from you. See them for all of their positive and negative attributes without judgment or criticism.
5. Accept your past, but learn from it.
6. Acceptance is not resignation or giving up your power. It is about working towards your greater good while being open to what happens.
7. Practice acceptance everywhere you can in life, including your work, relationships and health decisions.
8. Remember that acceptance does not mean approval or agreement with anything or anyone.
9. Acceptance is not a cure-all. It needs to be applied within the context of other life skills, such as communication and problem solving.
10. Remember that you do not have to like something or agree with it to accept it for what it is.
11. Be open to what you learn when practicing acceptance skills.
12. Ask yourself, “Would I rather resist this reality or work towards my greater good while being accepting of whatever happens?”
13. Remember that you can apply acceptance in many areas of your life, including the way you think, feel, act and relate to others.
14. Remember that acceptance is about letting go of judgment and criticism so you can move forward towards your goals.
15. Imagine how different your life would be if you were more accepting on a daily basis.
16. Acceptance does not discount the importance of empowerment, personal responsibility or problem solving skills to help you achieve your objectives or well-being.
17. Acceptance is about being at peace with the present moment so you can move towards your goals without resistance and with a solution oriented approach.
18. Instead of saying, “I can’t stand this!” say, “It’s OK to feel this way.” Or instead of, “This shouldn’t be happening!” say, “This is what is happening right now.”
19. If you find yourself resisting something or someone, ask yourself if it might be more helpful to accept the situation and move forward rather than staying stuck in your resistance.
20. Remember that acceptance is not about liking or condoning harmful behavior; it is simply about working towards your greater good while being accepting of whatever is happening.
21. Remember that sometimes acceptance may mean initially experiencing more pain, but you will eventually move towards the direction of resolving the issue at hand with acceptance as a tool to achieve greater peace and happiness. It does not always feel like it will work, but give it time!
Famous quotes about acceptance
“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle
“Acceptance is the key to peace and happiness.” – Unknown
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
“You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole – like the world, or the person you loved.” ― Stewart O’Nan, The Odds
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu
“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Acceptance is an important life skill that can help us in many different situations. It helps to let go of judgment and criticism, which allows you to move forward without resistance- so it’s a great tool for problem solving as well! Think about what acceptance could do for your next difficult situation. What would happen if you accepted the current reality? Would accepting this reality move you towards what you want even though it might suck for right now? You don’t necessarily have to agree with or condone the situation but just accept and work through it.
Remember: It doesn’t mean we like or condone harmful behavior; it simply means working towards our greater good while being accepting of whatever is happening.
The psychological health benefits of accepting negative emotions and thoughts: Laboratory, diary, and longitudinal evidence
Acceptance as an Emotion Regulation Strategy in Experimental Psychological Research: What We Know and How We Can Improve That Knowledge
Acceptance in behavior therapy: Understanding the process of change
Acceptance and Avoidance Processes at Different Levels of Psychological Recovery from Enduring Mental Illness
Let it be: Accepting negative emotional experiences predicts decreased negative affect and depressive symptoms