Zvi Bellin, PhD, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Rotating Header Image

Meaning Blog: Acceptance – True of False?

(Photo credit: http://bloggingblue.com/2012/01/09/when-the-meme-goes-against-you-kill-the-meme/ostrich-man-head-in-sand/)

I wonder if the idea of acceptance has become another form of reality repression. Everyone is talking about accepting what life brings you. Accept your anger. Accept your grief and sadness. Accept your gifts too. I notice when I practice acceptance a few things might happen, but they seem to be summed up in two different modes. The first is acceptance as being with. This means that when I am angry about something, then I allow myself to be angry. And if I am angry at a certain person then I allow myself to express that anger to the best of my ability. I am also patient with myself, recognizing that it takes time for emotions to pass through the filter of my being. I activate my support network – talk to friends and loved ones. I might even rearrange my schedule so I can have some space to explore and recover. This kind of acceptance is like an embrace. It is active. When you hug someone that you fully accept, you wrap your arms around that person and let them know that they are wanted up close.

The other kind of acceptance that can happen is the head-in-the-sand acceptance. This is a near-enemy of true acceptance. I realize that something significant is happening that warrants attention and instead I just keep going on with life as usual. The mental process is a quick, “I am open to whatever is going on,” without taking time to fully explore what that is. An example is when I was in a teacher-student relationship with a manipulative Rabbi. I just accepted his unhealthy behaviors without much consideration and remained under his influence long after my gut was telling me to leave. I was convinced I was in a spiritual practice of acceptance, when really I was self-manipulating to remain in denial.

Acceptance does not mean suffering in silence. It does not mean turn the other cheek. Rather, acceptance is an ongoing and active practice of fully embracing how your internal and external worlds intertwine. Finally, acceptance is not always something to do alone. If you are having trouble accepting something, share it with someone you trust.

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