What is Acceptance and Why Does it Matter?
So you often repeat the same mistakes over and over? Find it hard to change due to your limiting beliefs? Find that your ego often gets in the way of needed changes? You may need more acceptance.
Part of self awareness is self acceptance. Cultivating Awareness and Acceptance of oneself requires a commitment to inner work that looks at both what we want to change in our lives, and what we need to accept. Before we can focus on our future, we must first accept the here-and-now. Part of that acceptance includes your thoughts, feeling and behaviors that are slowing you up. To accept these parts of yourself does not mean to get rid of them, but to have compassion for yourself. True self acceptance includes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, that are trying to protect and motivate us, even if they are counterproductive.
Most likely you have tried several times to make these changes on your own, but have given up after a few tries, gotten sidetracked, or just been discouraged, by yourself or by others around you that change is hard. Maybe this is happening right now. So, what is it that is stopping you from improving your life and working on your personal goals? What thought, feeling or behavior is holding me back?
There may be times when you feel helpless and that few things are under your control. But we can intentionally change these things …our thoughts, feelings and behaviors or habits to any situation. As you embrace Acceptance, of what is and is not under your control, and listen and embrace these see things in your life, you will know what is true, and the best choice to move forward.
To be accepting of your thoughts and feelings ask yourself:
Why is that thought showing up? How is it actually trying to help me?
Can I understand where it comes from?
How old is this behavior or belief?
How is it trying to keep me safe?
How can I use this information now, to act?
We all have ways of coping in life, in order to protect ourselves from the harsh realities of living. Sometimes we engage in defense mechanisms, denial or distractions and hide out in our comfort zone, But there is another way to feel safe and protected. When we are mindful of our difficulties and struggles, and learn to take care of ourselves with self care and compassion, things start to change. We can learn to face, and even embrace ourselves and our reality, despite the imperfections we see inside and out, we gain tremendous courage and confidence as we become fierce with reality. You will become happier, more confident and trusting or yourself, have more motivation for what is important to you while decreasing feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, shame, anxiety and depression.
Setting unrealistic goals
Focusing on the wrong goal
Expecting immediate results with minimal effort
Seeking a perfect outcome
Looking for a quick fix
Being critical of your progress
Acceptance opens us up to our blind spot. It is the blind spot that all of these pitfalls reside. Everyone has blind spots, no one can see a complete picture of reality. Can you see what Aristotle described as person's fatal flaw. This leads to tragedy if you cannot see it. A flaw that, had it been fixed, would have instead led to a wonderful outcome. Radical Acceptance is needed.
This is difficult at first because of your ego defenses that prevent you from seeing your choices and weaknesses objectively. Often our irrational beliefs and fears are out of reach of conscious awareness as we stay in denial. Using Acceptance it we need to challenge our thoughts and feelings about what we believe to me true. We especially need to look at our mistakes and weaknesses. In Acceptance we can see there is more logical approaches for us to take. Can you be open to learning and growing?
What is the Comfort Zone?
The Comfort Zone is a place we often go to avoid doing something or avoid some pain, real or imagined. While in this place we often stock it full of things that bring comfort and pleasure, as if planning to live here for a long time. Some of the comforts include many addictive activities: Internet surfing, drugs and alcohol, pornography, and some “comfort food” sugary, starchy food that is not even nutritious, but just numbs you out. In today’s modern society, it is pretty much everything marketed to you as “the solution to your problem” these are the items we put in the Comfort Zone.
The more frequently you are in the Comfort Zone the more stuff you put in it and your purpose, your choices, your calling in the world diminishes. Staying in the comfort zone comes at a huge price, the Awareness of your possibilities and the ability to practice new behaviors for learning and growing. While it makes us feel good in the moment, the consequences of staying here start adding up. Who cares about the consequences? Avoidance and denial only work so long, but as you know, that day will come, maybe your are seeing it now, and feeling the worst consequence of all. That is the knowledge that you’ve wasted your life in the comfort zone and lost your way.
What if I stay in the Comfort Zone?
“low self-esteem, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, depression, anxiety,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosomatic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, alcoholism,
social phobia, panic disorder, a paralyzing tendency to procrastination, and serious difficulties in
To some Acceptance is uncomfortable: It can make you feel stripped down, exposed and vulnerable. It forces us to look at rationalizations that are used to keep something out of our conscious awareness. Freud called these defense mechanisms. They are there to protect our fragile ego, with limited beliefs about ourself and the world, to allow you to stay in the comfort zone of denial, rationalization, or blame, justifying that somehow the comfort zone is working or that the misery you feel is someone else's fault. Often we stay in the comfort zone so we don’t have some responsibility for the direction, or lack of direction, in our lives. This place is heavily guarded by thoughts like, “yes, but”, if only, I can’t, should ought, have to, must, this always happens, I never...
Seen from the anxious person’s perspective, the Comfort Zone thoughts, behaviors and routines protect you from taking unnecessary risks. What can be hard to see is this feeling of safety comes at a steep price. This become a negative cycle of “safety first” which reinforces the idea that safe is better, while reducing opportunities for new experiences and learning, that would challenged these beliefs about the world and yourself. The goal of Acceptance is to help you open up to difficult thoughts and feelings while doing what is meaningful to you. The Comfort Zone may keep you out of harm’s way while protecting you from feared outcomes.
The Call to Adventure - Leaving the Comfort Zone
When you want to go anywhere in life, it helps to get plan out where you are, but you need to account for where you currently are. It is time to orient yourself before heading out, by - pulling out the old map, a map you have had for quite some time. It is one you do not look at very often. It is time to take a good look around. As you consider the possibilities - then the next logical step will be to get a little clearer on a direction to take. Have your big, wildly important goal clear in your mind for our initial inquiry and sessions that follow. Then we will use it to take small measurable steps along the way.
Acceptance - Pros and Cons : “What do you really like about how things are right now?”
“Suppose you stay where you are, or continue on as you have without making any changes.
What do you think might happen in 5 years?”
If a friend were in the same place, or on the same path as you, what advice would you give to them about where it might lead to?
“And what’s the downside for you about where you are right now? What are the not-so-good things about this?”
“How has this path (or a current behavior)] kept you from growing, from moving forward?”
It’s Up to You Where you Go Next
With Acceptance comes your Autonomy
“What you do is totally and completely up to you.”
“Just because we are looking at the map and thinking about your current situation, doesn’t mean you necessarily HAVE to do something or go anywhere.”
“Even if after seeing that there are some concerns, or something better for you, it doesn’t obligate you in any way to act on this information.”
“Only you can decide what is best for you.”