One of the most powerful life skills we can learn is the art of acceptance. When we fail to accept what happens in life, we risk constantly feeling resentful or like a victim. Obviously it takes time to get to a point of acceptance after we have been hurt or disappointed, but it’s helpful to have it as a goal. Let’s look at some typical scenarios that require acceptance in order to feel at peace with what’s happening:
The world is not fair or just – bad things happen to good people, good things happen to not so good people, others don’t think and act the way you do, and your efforts to do the very best you can in life may not always pay off. Accepting the unjustness in the world provides incredible relief and teaching your children that life is not always fair will save them some frustration and resentment down the track.
Your partner has his or her faults – they may not be obvious in the bubble of new love, but 6 months down the track, the faults should start to appear and 10 years down the track, they are blindingly obvious. Over time, some of these faults might weaken as a result of your good influence, but others will be there forever. Some of these faults are the flipside of what you were attracted to in the first place (someone who was calm and laid back is later accused of being lazy and amotivated, someone who was driven and ambitious is later resented for being a workaholic). Learning to accept your partner’s faults is liberating.
You don’t want to be in a relationship if your partner doesn’t want or love you – over time, you need to let the relationship go. When our heart is broken, we often do everything we can to convince that other person to reconsider. We offer to walk over hot coals, be someone we’re not, and pass any test that is given to us. But if the person you love is not able to give you the love and commitment you need, you will only be delaying the inevitable and that’s life without that person. Accepting that a relationship has ended is incredibly difficult but life on the other side is better than the limbo of hanging on.
Acceptance is also helpful if you suffer chronic pain or disease, have a child with special needs, or struggle with depression or anxiety. Remember that acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It just enables you to do what you need to do to manage the issue and accept when you can’t do anything to change the facts.