29/09/2017 by Mary Mcilroy Counselling 0 Comments
The power of acceptance
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788-1860)
One of the most difficult yet most simple qualities to cultivate in life is acceptance. And while it is true that not everything ought to be accepted, it is often a virtue and a step toward serenity to understand that not everything can be changed, and that unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.
"Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change." - Katherine Mansfield, British Author (1888-1923)
As we strive for perfection, we fight what may be good enough or what we cannot change anyway. We may waste a lot of energy, feeling bored and stuck rather than progressive and motivated. Sometimes there is no magic, however, simple acceptance can be enough to ease and change our perspective. In turn, we free our energy to discover, explore, and enjoy what is already available.After an unfortunate injury, a young man became epileptic, and this unexpected condition could not be completely controlled by medication. Unlike a common cold, his epilepsy did not get better and go. Despite consulting experts and living as carefully as possible, occasional fits still occurred. The changes in his life excluded him from driving, enjoying his favourite activities of climbing, and sometimes drinking to excess - such changes impinged on his lifestyle and his goals. In desperation, he consulted a counsellor for guidance, only to find out what he needed was to accept - even a reputable counsellor could not rid him of epilepsy. He felt disappointed, almost horrified, how could he simply ‘accept’ his new condition? In time, however, he found public transport services to be good enough, that walking and running worked wonders for his health, and that there are many alternative interests. His life carried on, he developed new ways to be. His health was not ideal, but accepting epilepsy allowed him to adjust his style and enjoy his life regardless.
"Accepting does not necessarily mean 'liking,' 'enjoying,' or 'condoning.' I can accept what is and be determined to evolve from there. It is not acceptance but denial that leaves me stuck." - Nathaniel Branden, American Psychologist
Again, note that acceptance does not connote approval. In fact, it usually connotes that there is something in the situation that is less than appealing, less than ideal. Yet, for wider reasons, such as the overall value of a relationship, or situation, we tolerate or assent to the imperfection. While perfection and improvement are surely ideals for which to strive, inordinately demanding them in every situation or instantly is usually a recipe for resentment, frustration, disappointment, and even strife.Often, we may begin a relationship with stars in our eyes, wanting to believe ‘he/she is the one, this time it will work, he/she will change that little bit’. In time, ‘that little bit’, can grow, and it often happens that the ideal one seeks becomes a new deal. And the process tends to repeat and repeat, such that a person like this never attains deep relations with real people in a real world, but is forever seeking that which is unreal, which does not exist. In effect, they miss real life, in search of fantasy. A young woman believed she finally met her prince - this new man was surely the antidote to her current relationship. Without deep reflection, she bade the old relationship farewell and eagerly welcomed the new. Her new beau may not show his emotions but look at his confidence and sporting prowess, surely, in time, he would notice and appreciate her affections. “My displays of love and gratitude will rub off, his indifference will melt, I will gently engineer these changes” she convenience herself yet again.If we can give up the temptation to end one relationship and move from place to place in search of an ideal situation, we ultimately realise there is no escape from oneself, and the idea that things would be better someplace else is usually an illusion. Acceptance of one’s partner can provide incentive to restore peace and work things out. This acceptance means learning the practices of love: acknowledging one’s own offensive behaviour, giving up one’s preferences, forgiving and possibly developing oneself as a result. Acceptance enables one to work with what you’ve got rather than waste time constantly looking for a better deal."It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however, satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan, American Astronomer (1934-1996)