How can we reconcile acceptance and the unacceptable in our lives? A new blog post from Rick Hanson sparked me to thinking about the relationship between acceptance and acquiescence or even complicity. So many things are wrong with the world. Is there no role for righteous anger?
Acceptance in the sense that Rick means is really about not living in denial. It is about acceptance versus avoidance.
If we want to change things in our lives we must first accept the reality of the situation.
Four years ago I refused to get on a scale. I knew that it would show me that I was well over my ideal weight. At the time, I suppose, it felt that this refusal made the painful reality go away. But not getting on the scale, not seeing things as they were, was an important part of what kept me from changing.
And while I felt that I was protecting myself from pain, the failure to accept the situation really trapped me in simmering frustration and disappointment.
As Rick elegantly writes…
“Much if not most of our stress, emotional pain, and conflicts with others comes from friction, from resistance to life as it is.
Acceptance means you give up to the truth – the facts, reality – no matter what it is. You may not like it, which is usually understandable. For example, I don’t like the fact that one in five children in America lives below the poverty line, or that my mother is no longer here, or that I’ve hurt people by losing my temper. But things are the way they are, and we can accept them while still trying to make them better (when that’s possible).
At bottom, acceptance grounds you in what is true, which is where you have to start for any true effectiveness, happiness, or healing. Acceptance is the foundation of wisdom and inner peace.”
What is the relationship between acceptance and the unacceptable?
To change things we have to see them clearly. We have to understand the challenge we face and prepare for it.
And, sometimes we have to accept the unacceptable.
Death and aging are the inevitable accompaniments of life. And if we cannot accept that, we may miss the opportunity to enjoy the moments that make up our lives.