Acceptance is a normal part of life.
But, who or what you accept in your life is up to you.
For many of us the idea of acceptance is about dealing with something unpleasant, learning to tolerate the untolerable. It’s passive! We don’t often put energy or give attention to accepting who or what is in front of us. Instead, overtime we become worn down and “accepting” of the unhealthy relationship, unfulfilling job, or dissatisfaction in life. We begin to learn how to accept what is in front of us, but do we have to?
- the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
When you look at the actual definition of acceptance, you begin to see that it’s much more. Acceptance is not a passive way of letting things go or allowing time to smooth things over. Acceptance is big, bold, and action oriented. It’s not something that just happens to you. It’s something that you do. Acceptance is about action. Whether you are thinking about challenges at work, in your family, in relationships, or within the world as a whole, there are three steps to actively pursuing acceptance in life.
First, consider if acceptance is appropriate for the current circumstance. Sometimes, especially for women, we get so caught up in being nice and wanting everyone to get along that we don’t consider if this is a person or situation that we have to accept. Saying no to others is an option, too. Not being involved in a relationship that doesn’t feed your soul is an option, too. So the first step is to think about whether or not you want or need to accept what is in front of you.
Early in my career I had a job that was really unhealthy for me. At the age of 24, I had stress induced alopecia (I lost my hair!) because of the long hours and toxic work environment. Because I was operating from the perspective that acceptance meant dealing with something unpleasant. I thought I was accepting the situation well. I didn’t understand that I had a choice. But, we always have a choice. We always have options. When I finally reached my breaking point, I began to consider that this was a situation that I did not need to accept. Therefore, I made a change.
The next step towards acceptance involves getting quiet and listening to God. Use whatever works for you to hear God’s voice (prayer, meditation, walking, dancing, etc.) and then start asking questions. Think about your current circumstance and what you may be struggling with and ask:
- Why am I in this place (situation, relationship, etc.)?
- If this isn’t the first time, why I am here again?
- What lesson does God want me to learn?
Turning to God and faith is the most important piece in this. When you’re caught up in the busyness of life it is hard to see patterns and lessons to be learned. It’s only when you stop moving on autopilot that you can become clearer about what it is you should work to accept and what you should work to let go of.
Lastly, once you become clear about what God is asking of you, it’s time to listen and take the final step towards acceptance. This may mean setting new boundaries in a relationship or renegotiating old ones. It may mean changing the nature of some relationships (personal or professional) and actively deciding to let go of others, click here to read this short and sweet article on how to love yourself, which can help you accept who or what’s best for you. Whatever your next steps are, be sure to enlist the support of others to help you on this journey of listening to God and accepting what He has for you.
The work that I do with women and the work that TiffyTalks is doing with the #GetEngaged Pledge are our intentional ways of providing support for women. Don’t read this and run. Let us know your thoughts and how we can best serve you in the comments below.
For now, use the Serenity Prayer as a mantra to move closer to the acceptance you seek.
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Sincerely by Tonya Ladipo, LCSW
P.S. If you’re single, frustrated in your singleness or questioning if God has a mate for you, consider attending the singles retreat this Summer in the Philadelphia area. Registration will open next week, CLICK HERE to be the first to receive details.