Acceptance is the acknowledgment of ourselves as we really are at the moment, with no illusions or self-deception. Likewise, acceptance expands outward by acknowledging situations, other people, our whole world and overarching reality as it is, not as we would rather it be.
To invite acceptance is to face facts. No one can truly reinvent themselves without practicing the art of acceptance, because acceptance is a form of deep honesty and reinvention requires honesty most of all.
The art of acceptance is also the art of living without preconditions or unrealistic expectations. Having expectations isn’t a bad thing, except when we try to treat our own expectations as facts. It’s easy to get caught up in a false world that’s governed by our expectations.
Our irrational expectations prevent acceptance in many cases. We have expectations of ourselves, other people, the world, the way life should go.
Consider how disappointing the following expectations are:
- Life should be fair.
- People should always treat me well.
- I need to be great at everything I do.
- People must like me.
- I must please other people all the time.
Those are all irrational expectations that create misery and frustration. People remain afflicted with disappointment because they live in a state of conditionality, not acceptance. Acceptance may look a bit grim, but it’s far from it. Indeed, irrational expectations prevent acceptance in many cases. Consider:
- Life isn’t fair.
- People don’t always treat me well.
- I’m not great at everything.
- Some people don’t like me.
- I don’t please others all the time.
Accepting these as the rock-solid facts they are is liberating. At the very least, acceptance frees you from disappointment. It blows the doors to your own personal development wide open. Personal reinvention leads fantastic developments only when we’re willing to shed our illusions, preconceptions, and expectations.
What acceptance isn’t
If acceptance is an acknowledgment of facts, what is it not? Acceptance is not:
- Settling for less
- An excuse for negativity
Acceptance doesn’t mean we pretend to like a situation or that something doesn’t hurt or disturb is. Instead, when we accept a situation as distressing, we own our feelings. We tend to shy away from things that are unpleasant, and many facts in life are indeed unpleasant. Sometimes it’s not so much a hard truth that disturbs us as it is our thoughts and feelings about things.
We as human beings have a powerful tendency to want to make things congruent and consonant. When we are faced with a fact that doesn’t fit in with our worldview, we distort it to fit our own views, or we ignore it altogether. That’s a false consonance, but it’s the nature of the human psyche to keep us insulated from pain.
Often, that insulation gets applied before we make a rational analysis of a threat—or a change. We feel threatened, and we attempt to put the danger away from us, even if it means we don’t accept things as they are.
Coping with reality always works better for reinvention than avoiding reality. It’s not as immediately lovely as a rose-colored view, but it never lets you down and always helps build you up. Given that reinvention is all about change we have to have a solid basis for correctly and realistically gauging what to change and how to go about it.
Acceptance is essential for inner peace, and it’s also essential for making life changes. As you do that, you’ll be able to discover how to carry out your personal transformation.
Acceptance of yourself isn’t the end of things. It’s not the end of processes. Acceptance is the beginning of reinvention.