Acceptance is a challenging practice, as it asks much of us: accepting ourselves, others, our feelings, our challenges, our limits, and life itself. We tend to resist acceptance, because in accepting “what is,” we grieve what isn’t. We grieve all the ways we wish life (or we) were different.
We also fear that if we accept things as they are, we can’t change. We’ll remain stuck. Thank God this is not the case.
Acceptance is a powerful, powerful practice, one that offers gain as well as loss (grief.) When we offer ourselves acceptance, we gain the ability to change. When we offer others acceptance, we give them the space to change.
We also open the door for healing in our relationship.
How many of us have had fractured relationships because we tried to change or control another? How many of us have experienced this same fractiousness with ourselves as we try to control and force ourselves?
Judgement, control and nonacceptance uproot intimacy. Our loved ones don’t feel safe and loved by us if we’re judging them. We don’t feel safe and loved if we’re judging ourselves.
When we accept others as they are, they don’t feel like we’re trying to make them different. This gives them the freedom, dignity and autonomy to change. It softens their counter will. As we’re no longer pushing against them, there’s nothing to push back against. Like a martial arts master, we simply step out of the way.
We relax because we aren’t trying to control them. They relax as they feel safe, as they are allowed to be. This opens up a space to start to interact in a different manner. It opens up the space to change.
Furthermore, they have the ability to change. As long as they’re feeling unloved, unworthy, not okay, they can’t change, because they’re operating from this deficit of unmet needs. Our unconditional love allows them to rest, to let go of painful patterns, to look inside, to be honest with themselves. Our love and compassion is the necessary foundation to grow and heal. It’s what takes them from a deficit to a surplus.
Beloved, it’s the same process with ourselves.
As we stop trying to control or fix those parts of us that are “bad,” flawed or acting out (like overeating), we relax. We’re not “white knuckling” ourselves into submission. As we relax, we open up the space to change. We move from a deficit (blame, conditional love) to a surplus. We have everything we need to grow, shift and change.
All parts of us feel safe and are allowed to “be.” We rest in that sanctuary; that presence. We rest in unconditional love.
Psychologist Gordon Neufeld puts it this way: the most important thing we can give to others (and ourselves) is “the invitation to exist in our presence.” He’s speaking in particular about the parent-child relationship, but this truth underlies every relationship.
Isn’t that beautiful? Can you think of anything more precious to our tender humanity? To give to ourselves?
When we can simply be and exist – without having to prove our worth, our goodness, or earn gold stars for our behavior – we rest in love. We rest in our goodness.
Then we have everything we need to grow, shift and change. Then we have everything we need to grow into the deepest, most authentic expression of who we are.