Acceptance Is Not Waving a Flag and Giving Up
When you accept a situation that has gone awry, where things didn’t happen like they were supposed to, it doesn’t mean you give up. You may feel ashamed when you let go of unpleasant circumstances that you can’t do anything about. But it may be that you are far from giving up.
Seeing acceptance as giving up is a belief that you should re-evaluate. Like many other beliefs, it can make you trip up and prevent you from facing your circumstances as best you can. Today we will help you to break down this belief so that you can see acceptance and giving up from a new perspective.
Saying “yes” to life, just as it is and just as it comes, does not mean you are giving up.
Marsha M. Linehan developed the concept of radical acceptance, but Tara Branch made it well-known. They are both psychologists, and the concept has roots in Buddhist philosophy.
It urges us to abandon all expectations because they only make us suffer in vain. Therefore, we have to give up and stop resisting that which is impossible to change. Or that which is indeed possible to change, since changes begin with accepting the problem and not denying it.
But let’s not confuse giving up with becoming a victim. Acceptance should not lead to us taking shelter behind complaints. Radical acceptance means appreciating what happened from a different perspective, where everything happens in its own way. We cannot change it, but we can decide how we react to it.
Imagine that you lost your job. You have some savings and you’ll also receive unemployment checks. However, you refuse to accept reality. You are furious and sad at the same time about your situation. You have been kicked out of your comfort zone and now you are lost and hopeless.
Accepting this situation without complaining, without getting depressed and instead thinking of it as an opportunity is not our natural tendency, at least not for many. Others don’t look on it favorably as well: others might think, “well, he probably didn’t want to work anyway” or “with that attitude it makes sense he lost his job”. They’re words that do nothing more than fuel complaints and victimhood. It makes it easier to feel like we are hopeless and drifting.
I cannot change my situation
What would you do if you accepted your situation radically? You get fired, you feel all those emotions, you allow yourself to express them and then you stop. You stop to see the situation and say, “Ok, this happened, I cannot change it, so how do I manage it?”. There are lots of ways to not give up.
You can take classes and learn something new that will serve you in the future. You can find a new job and take this opportunity as an experience to grow in the workplace. You can do all kinds of things instead of sitting around and giving up, feeling sorry for yourself. The circumstances are what they are, but you can decide which path to take. You’ve been dealt your cards, and now you have to strategize to win the game.
Refusing to accept reality is exhausting
If it seems like a bad idea to change your plan or take a break, it’s an even worse idea to deny reality (unless you went through a serious impact or trauma, like the loss of a loved one). But this attitude is exhausting. It is harmful. It makes you stumble again and again over the same stone, stubbornly and without learning at all.
It is true that reality sometimes hurts — a lot. However, refusing to accept it or giving up will only transform your pain into suffering. Your complaints will not be heard, all those “why me” won’t be answered. Things happen because they do; there doesn’t have to be an apparent reason. But you get the last word. You have the power to decide where you go from there.
You are not a victim unless you decide to be. If you decide to be a victim, you feed ruminating thoughts and get lost in an endless negative cycle. This cycle only has two options: depression or anxiety. Perhaps you think you achieved something by choosing the most difficult path. But remember that the path that demands the most effort is not always the best choice.
Accepting your situation is the best way to start changing it. Take it as a chance to find a new path and learn from it. Escaping never works, and not taking responsibility for your future works even less. Acceptance, on the other hand, is the way forward.