So many people have difficulty with the concept of acceptance. They think that it means that they must accept absolutely everything that is thrown at them, whether it is nice or abusive or anything in between. Acceptance does not mean that we have to put up with horrible behaviour from others in our lives. To jump to that conclusion is quite immature. We can accept that their behaviour is horrible, yes. But we do not have to put up with it. I would like to write a bit about this topic just to clarify some things. Now, admittedly, as I am writing this I am likely also going to be clarifying a number of things for myself. So don’t think that this is just me preaching from a mountain top here. This is therapeutic, man!
There is a lot of time that we as humans spend in denial, in a state of war (mostly within), and in fear. We know that this is unhealthy, but it is what we have been programmed to do to ourselves by our society, our culture, our religions, our politicians and so on. So we spend a lot of time there, ruminating about this or that and working ourselves into an internal frenzy. We really need to stop that. Acceptance is how we do that.
So…let’s have a real life example to contemplate here so that we can work with that and then put it forth into other areas. I like to use the example of my late wife’s view on health, well-being and illness. She was one of the strongest women I knew, even though she had some serious health problems from the time she was very young. To make matters worse, I am told that some of the medical intervention that she experienced did other things to her body that made her ill in other ways. So really, considering that she was working with a biological system that was having problems heaped on top of other problems, she really did do quite well.
But here is the thing. She had a process that she would go through with health issues. The first process was to try to deny the fact that the health issue was even important in her otherwise very colourful life. This denial was her form of trying to take control of a situation that actually could be assisted if she would allow for the assistance. So she had to work through that. Then she would go into a state of fear, based upon past experiences going sideways on her and making matters worse. Understandable, but not applicable to the current situation. So she had to work through that. Then she had to go through her warring state within, condemning her body for betraying her, considering herself flawed in some way, and trying to make it a choice between conventional treatments and natural treatments, when the two could actually work together. In order for her to be able to actually get to a point of taking any action whatsoever, she had to get to a point of acceptance. This does not mean acceptance that she is to remain forever ill. It means acceptance of the situation as it currently is. Once she was able to get there, then she would be able to make space for change, for shifts within, for healing to happen regardless of which type of healing did what for her and which did not.
So when we look at other things in our lives, we have to assess where we are coming from regarding that situation or circumstance and find what we need to let go of in order to allow something else to come through. We can, for example, accept that we are living in poverty. This acceptance says NOTHING about our personal worth. We are told it does, but it really does not. Once we can accept that we are living in poverty, we can make adjustments to how we live in order to accommodate our current means. This means that we don’t rack up huge debt on credit cards in order to pay mortgages and such, but actually sell the house we cannot afford and move somewhere that we can afford to live. Or we move to a cheaper rental unit, or whatever. We perhaps don’t pressure ourselves to buy things that we really don’t need. We look at the entire system of commercialism differently and don’t allow ourselves to get sucked into wanting something that in reality is quite useless and meaningless. Designer clothes? Nope. Diamond ring? Nope. The most expensive bath products? Nope. The most expensive food? Nope. We really whittle down what is required in order for us to actually LIVE.
When we do this, we then make space in our lives for things to shift and change. Perhaps in this simplification process we discover that what we do for work is not working for us. We find a different job that allows us to, say, be at home with our children more. Or we find one that simply pays better and has health benefits and so on. We make space for that change to happen. We let go of the fear that we are imprisoned in our lives, in poverty itself, in our jobs that do not pay us what we need in order to live and that make us work for people we don’t even like. We accept that the change is a must and so we change. It doesn’t even matter what we change first. We simply make the change as it is needed and when it is needed. We don’t hum and haw about it. We take action because we have made space for that action to be able to be taken.
I was personally quite resistant a few years ago when I had a kidney stone event that brought to light, through a physical exam afterwards, that I am pre-diabetic. To me this was ludicrous. But my partner actually helped me shift from my denial (which was also fear-based) into a head space that allowed me to accept that changes needed to be made. In consulting with my physician, I was told that there are drugs that can assist with this. I do not do well with medications. Most often they actually will put my life at risk because I will be the one in 300,000 people who will have a very strange allergic reaction to them, and by the time it is discovered what is happening I am usually having to be resuscitated. The next option was that of diet and exercise. That I can do. So now my exercise program works well for me in burning off internal fat around the organs (something people often don’t know they have because it can be there, screwing up your organ function, when the rest of you actually looks thin), and my diet is such that I am getting the proper amount of meat, carbs and veggies. The veggies part was what was messing me up in the first place. I grew up on a farm where vegetables grown in our own soil tasted stellar in comparison to what we can get at a grocery store. Slowly I stopped eating the stuff that tasted like cardboard. So those nutrients were missing in my system. With the re-introduction of a healthy portion of vegetables my body is getting what it needs to be able to function well. And now we are also growing our own vegetables in the summer, so I also get the superb taste of home grown stuff. We don’t have the space to grow enough to get us through the winter, but who knows…perhaps one day with no dogs we can turn our postage stamp back yard into a lush vegetable garden! The possibility is there. But I still want dogs in our lives, so who knows?
The point is that in accepting the diagnosis of being pre-diabetic, I was able to make space in my life for the necessary changes. When my late wife passed away I had to come to accept that she was gone and I would not see her again. We had only been married 6 weeks out of the five years that we had been together when the accident happened at her work place. So it was very much a deep shock. And I was in shock and grief for a number of months afterwards. But I had to come to accept that she was gone and that life still had to go on. After all, I had family and friends who love me and needed me to put my inner Humpty Dumpty back together. Now, I must give myself credit in that I did so faster than many. My personal view on life and death helped a lot with that. But I still needed to do the work. So in accepting her death I was then able to make the required space within myself to dive in and get the work done. This, of course, does not in any way diminish my relationship with her. It simply means that I have healed from the loss of her and have moved on in my life.
The next level of acceptance for me was regarding finding love in my life after her death. I did not ever want to do the dating thing again. And I am way too old to feel comfortable with dating sites. Those things, to me, are just a waste of time. And how would I present myself anyway? 50-some year old father of 2 grown children who is a professional shaman looking for a date? I mean, seriously… So I decided that I was done with romance in my life. And that is when it happened. Isn’t that the way it always goes? We decide that we are no longer interested in that aspect of life and as soon as we decide that we relax about it and WHAM! There it is! That person ended up becoming my current partner of over 2 years now. That also led to another form of acceptance for me personally. My partner is also male. Although I had no problem with same gender relationships, I had never been in one myself so that was off my radar. But then when this developed…I had to come to accept that I, too, could possibly be a man in love with another man. This made space for me to be able to re-organise how I define myself on an intimate level. Neither one of us consider ourselves to be “gay”. I don’t even like labels. To me we are all human and it really doesn’t matter who we love. But people often want some form of definition so that they can then wrap their own heads around our relationship. So he defines himself as “multi-sexual” or “bi-sexual” and I define myself as “hetero-flexible”. That means, for me, that I am mostly straight, but obviously shit happens. And boy am I glad that it DID happen. I am happier in my relationship with this wonderful man than I have ever been in any of my other relationships.
Yes, acceptance definitely serves a positive purpose in our lives. Once we understand that, we can then put it to good use.