Acceptance is a journey that starts with a conscious decision.
When we are suffering we have pain. There is a gap between our reality and what we want. When acceptance is lived it softens the pain. A death, divorce, loss of a job, any change that has occurred that we are struggling with. We may not like it or want it but its out of our control. What is in our control is how we accept it.
There are tools that can help us progress, but the process is unique for each one of us. You may need to try some different approaches to find what is right for you. It requires patience and might take months or even years. The process of acceptance takes work and commitment.
Step 1: Acknowledge the hurt
- Stop minimising the hurt and pain you are feeling. Stop pretending that it doesn’t affect you. The ‘I’m okay’ and ‘I don’t care’ masks that you may have been wearing do not support you in the long-term.
- Stop avoiding the hurt by using tactics such as being busy, watching television, eating, drinking or overspending.
- Stop avoiding the person that you are forgiving/accepting if you are doing this in order to escape the buried emotions relating to the hurt.
When we choose the path of acceptance it doesn’t mean we like it or want it. It will in time create less pain when acceptance is invited in.
Step 2: Recognise the cost
Reflect on the following:
- Resentment and anger, hurts you and absorbs your energy. Even if you are not consciously thinking about something regularly, you may still be hurting. It is just in the unconscious. Do you think this may be the case for you?
- The presence of resentment and unfinished business that needs attention may be more noticeable at certain times such as around birthdays, Christmas or anniversaries. You may find yourself a little irritated, stressed or short-tempered at these times. What could these emotions be about?
- Sometimes we avoid our emotions and let the patterns of the past impact on the present. Is this happening for you?
Step 3: Let go and make the commitment to accept.
Make a conscious decision to let go of the anger and resentment. When you refuse to hold on you are no longer in the victim role. Things don’t happen to you anymore.
Remind yourself that the incident or hurt with which you are dealing – the reason for going through the acceptance process – is a specific event and not your whole life, even it its along term relationship. Becoming overwhelmed or consumed by it may lead you to avoid doing anything at all and that will only hurt you.
Step 4: Express the emotion
- Allow yourself to feel the emotions that you are experiencing. Acknowledge that they are real and that it is okay to experience them.
- Verbalise what you are feeling directly to the person, if that is possible. Alternatively, imagine the person who has inflicted the hurt is sitting in an empty chair opposite you. Tell him or her how you are feeling.
- Express your anger in a way that does not harm you or anyone else. For example, you may find somewhere private to go in your car and scream at the top of your lungs, or bash the ground with a rolled up towel or pool noodle. This process of venting helps to move negative energy caused by the anger.
- Expressing how you are feeling by writing in a journal is also extremely beneficial because it enables you to empty out your hurts and pains.
Step 5: Set boundaries Make a decision not to allow the person involved to hurt you now or in the future. Choose whether you want the person in your life. If you do, it is vital to have strong, clear boundaries. For example, if someone is verbally offensive towards you insist that you will not communicate with that person unless he or she is willing to speak kindly to you.
Challenges Relating to Acceptance You will need to make a commitment to yourself to move on fully from the anger and hurt. Acceptance is a choice, not a feeling.
Some of us may feel that we cannot forgive someone who we feel has brought so much pain into our lives. Remember that when you forgive/accept you are not saying that whatever the other person did is acceptable.
Pain and hurts can run very deep and can go back many years. It is understandable that you may struggle to forgive someone and you are not alone if that is your challenge. The process of true forgiveness/acceptance is an extremely difficult one that takes time, but it is the only one that will bring you peace.
If you are battling with the concept of acceptance also think about why you are determined to hold on to something that hurts you. Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you like to focus your attention on someone who has hurt you so that you can avoid looking at yourself?
- Do you feel that your inner hurts are so much a part of you and that you would feel strange without them?
- Do you feel that you are your story and you like to put it out sometimes so you get attention and can feel sorry for yourself?
- Do you want to keep the lid on your hurts so that they are not disturbed and cannot be brought to the surface?
- Are you scared that if you start to delve into the baggage you won’t ever stop crying?
These are not reasons to not allow acceptance in, these are avoidance tactics and are only hurting yourself.
Never give up on acceptance. Commit to and persevere with it. It takes courage and persistence, but with perseverance the benefits you will receive are endless.
Room will open up within you and a stirring for participating in life will emerge. You will begin to become excited about your life and you will venture into a new journey called living.
Your self-esteem depends on you letting go of hurts from your past. Once you accept you are free to live authentically and peacefully. Think about what you can do, be, think and feel when there is no resentment holding you back. The possibilities are endless. Counselling can be very helpful and sometimes is required if you get stuck.
“The Power of Change is Within you.”