Self-acceptanceAcceptance is the third aspect of the Self-caring pillar of the Foundations of Well-being. Acceptance is recognizing what is true, without resisting that it is true.

Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else!

Accepting both the outer world and the inner one helps us cope with life better and experience more well-being. If you don’t see what’s true, you can’t cope with it or make it better. Much stress and pain come from friction, from resisting life as it is.

Some of the blocks to Acceptance are:

  • “It makes me feel or look weak.”
  • “It means giving up, not changing things.”
  • “Not accepting certain things as true keeps painful feelings at bay.

Acceptance is not resignation, helplessness, apathy, futility or defeat.  

What is it that we are accepting? What is it that is true?  There are 3 aspects:  mind, matter and mystery.

  1. Mind: The immaterial information represented by the nervous system;  a small fraction of which is conscious experience.
  2.  Matter: Material reality – The external world, including your body, other people, society, sunlight, the Big Bang.
  3. Mystery:  What we don’t know – especially the possibilities outside the “natural frame” of mind and matter.  Until 50 years ago about 96% of the universe was unknown to science.

Here we focus on mind and matter. Here are a few things to explore, to investigate, to see about your inner world.  

What’s the truth of your inner world?

What are the challenges, the vulnerabilities and what are the resources we have?

What feels good inside your own mind?

What hurts?

What makes things better or worse?

How committed are you to your own well-being?

Then there is the outer world.  What’s happening out there in terms of the challenges or vulnerabilities – things that are easily broken down and also what are the resources exist for us to use?

What can I truly count on from others?

What opportunities might I be missing?

Practice of self-acceptance:

Can we call upon the feeling of being on our own team a friend to yourself, for yourself.  Can you also find compassion for yourself? Recognition of your own pain, your own suffering, the wish that it would pass, or would get better.  Not fighting the suffering but rather holding it tenderly, with kindness and as much care for yourself as you would care for someone else’s pain and suffering.     

Know the experience of acceptance and resistance. For example, say to yourself: I accept that I have to pay these bills.  Then say:  I don’t accept that I have to pay these bills.  See the difference. Non-accepting has a quality of tension, pressure or resistance and it doesn’t feel good at all.  It is almost like we are lying to ourselves about the way life really is.   

  • Can we accept the parts of ourselves the curious part, the adventurous part, the shy part, the part that gets easily frustrated, the part which is very driven to accomplishing things?
  • Can we accept the life that we have had, the events that have occurred within it, good, bad or neutral, which at this point are unchangeable.  We can shift our relationship to our experiences, the fact that they happened. Moving from resistance to acceptance – letting it be the case.

In exploring this, the experience itself might be difficult, but in accepting it, we can hold it in a kind of peace.  

  • Can we accept the life that we have today?  For example, I accept the fact that I live in Northern Virginia.  I accept the fact that my parents, one brother and some good friends are no more. I accept the fact that I live in a great country that has injustice as well as a lot of good things.   

Can we accept and name the things about the life that we have – let it be the case without resisting that it is the case.   

As we go through these experiences, if we find peace growing around things that have been upsetting in the past, let that also sink in.  We may possibly be feeling better now, surrendering to the fact of who we are now – so let the good feelings of self-acceptance sink in.

“Do all you can

With what you have

In the time that you have

In the place where you are.”

Nkosi Johnson, South African advocate for children with HIV who passed away at age 12