What is acceptance?
Acceptance is noticing and or observing what’s happening around you and finding a way to be okay with it. What acceptance isn’t: Acceptance isn’t about liking what is happening or pretending to be ok with it. Or even enjoying it. Life ultimately doesn’t care what you think about what is happening. Acceptance is about learning how to be ok with what is and maybe learning to thrive in spite of what is happening.
Acceptance can be hard to do
Acceptance requires that we look at what is happening in our lives and letting it be that way without ignoring it, denying it, or fighting it.
I like to use this example to explain the concept of acceptance. I have a 16-year-old Terrier dog named Dexter who has been partially paralyzed since he was 4 years old. Dexter has lived 12 years of his life without the use of a fully-abled body. He struggles to move and walk. He is incontinent, so I have to help him perform some of his bodily functions. I wonder sometimes if he ever wakes up in the morning and ruminates about his physical condition. I am not sure but I do know one thing about my dog: He definitely works with the capabilities that he has. That is what acceptance is about. Working with what we have in front of us.
If there was a way to ask Dexter if he would prefer to not be paralyzed, I am positive he would tell me he would rather run and walk with no limitations. The paralysis has not stopped him from having a full life. He runs, he plays, he chases things. None of those activities are missing from his current life. One time I saw him cross a field just using his front legs to propel his tiny body forward. He dragged his back legs. Nothing stops this dog. He just works with what he has. He doesn’t sit around examining everything and making up reasons why he can’t do something.
I think that he sometimes struggles with his limitations. I struggle with his limitations. On days when I am more accepting of Dexter, things are much easier to manage with him. On days when I wish he could do more, I struggle. Acceptance for me is about being ok with being the owner of a dog who has special needs and that can be difficult to manage (diarrhea with a fecal incontinent dog is never a fun issue to deal with).
Acceptance has allowed my dog to live his life fully. Acceptance has also allowed me to be more accepting of what my dog needs.
Connection between Acceptance and Abusive Relationships
What does acceptance have to do with abusive relationships? Acceptance allows us to see our spouse/partner for who they are; not as we want to see them. Are you accepting your spouse/partner exactly as they are or are you holding out for their potential? Or are you hoping for them to change back into the person they were when you first met them?
So often, when we are in abusive relationships, we tend to think that we just need to get the right advice, the right words, or the right behaviors so that our partner/spouse will treat us better and we can have the relationship we want with them. That isn’t how it works with abusive spouses/partners. Acceptance can allow you to see the situation more clearly, and when that happens, you can disentangle yourself from the relationship.
Final words on acceptance
Acceptance is about finding a way to come to terms with the people and situations in your life. Is it easy? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. We sometimes want life to be a certain way and it isn’t. Or we want our relationship to be a certain way, but it isn’t. Acceptance can be the most difficult thing you have ever done and it can be one of the most rewarding things.
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