The Importance of Acceptance
Acceptance can be a huge part of the healing process, but it can also be one of the most difficult steps. When someone experiences the trauma of any kind one of the beliefs that are often created is “My feelings don’t matter.” Acceptance work is one way of challenging this belief. By doing this we can increase our overall wellbeing and live healthier, happier lives.
When we tell ourselves that our feelings don’t matter it creates a cycle of being back in the victim role. After all, it is a lot easier to enter an unhealthy relationship if my feelings don’t matter. It’s easier to put up with abuse if my feelings don’t matter. It is generally easier to live a life of pain and suffering if my feelings don’t matter. This is dangerous. If we continue with this thought process for a long enough the idea of “My feelings don’t matter” spreads to other areas of our lives eventually reaching to a point of “I don’t matter.” When we have reached a point of our lives where we believe we do not matter as a human being we have entered a very deadly world of hopelessness and helplessness two factors that have a strong influence over suicide attempts.
First of all, what is acceptance? Acceptance helps us begin to recognize our own thoughts, feelings, and human experience. Acceptance is not just lying there and letting the world steam roll you. Acceptance is the ability to open your mind, heart, and soul fully to experiencing reality as it is at any given moment; acceptance involves your whole being. Acceptance is not agreeing with or liking the situation. There have been many times where I am anxious or angry and do not like it; one common example I see is with break-ups. Break ups are hard and painful but they become even worse when we resist accepting the situation as it is. Acceptance is not trying to change the situation. Acceptance is simply recognizing “It is what it is.” This may sound very passive but in fact, it takes a lot of effort and energy to reach a true state of acceptance, but once we reach that state we were to experience the benefits.
Acceptance can bring peace of mind and relaxation. When we don’t accept something we often try to either bury it or fight it both of which are exhausting and don’t really work out in our favor.
Acceptance leads to support. When we finally reach a state of acceptance we can finally tell ourselves, “OK, this is what is going on. I don’t like it but it is what it is. Now, what do I need at this moment?”. Without acceptance, it can be impossible to ask for help because we are denying there is anything we need help with but with acceptance, we can honestly ask ourselves what we need.
Acceptance gives us permission. So many times after a traumatic event we deny ourselves to right to think or feel anything, and if we do we beat ourselves up over it. With acceptance, we can finally acknowledge that we are feeling one way or another and over time even encourage ourselves to feel something different. If for years I have denied myself the right to feel joy and have tried burying all my feelings that I may need to start by acknowledging and accepting that I am really pissed off and then slowly with time, effort, and support (therapy) I can begin to accept that, despite trauma, I am allowed to be happy, but I need to accept all that I have buried in order to get there.
If you would like to know more about acceptance and how it helps us heal you can check out Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) developed by Marsha Linehan and her idea of radical acceptance. You can also look into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) developed by Steven Hayes. You can check out our podcast “The Root of it All” episode 1 with David Scott for his take on the importance of acceptance and trauma work. And you can definitely stay tuned to this blog as there will be more on the benefits of acceptance, the how to’s, and the road blocks to acceptance.
Images gathered from Pixabay.com