4 Reasons Why Acceptance is Essential to Your Recovery
“When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away. From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink. And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition, P. 417
The dictionary defines acceptance as the act of taking or receiving something offered–favorable reception; the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory. The fact or state of being accepted or acceptable. You know what acceptance is, you can think through acceptance, but how can one really begin to practice acceptance in a way that supports their recovery?
Understand the importance of acceptance
Acceptance is necessary for your healing process. To practice acceptance, you must acknowledge all of the uncomfortable parts of yourself: your emotions, your thoughts, and your past.
Practicing acceptance is kind of like taking care of the dirty clothes hamper in your room. Throughout the weeks, you fill it with your clothes and it piles up. Work is tiring, cleaning the rest of the house is enough of a chore, and life keeps getting in the way. You know that the hamper is there, but you’ve been ignoring the real mess of clothes inside.
After enough time passes, you may even forget that you own some of the clothes at the bottom of that basket. Finally, the day comes when you acknowledge that the corner of your room is a real mess, you’re short on clothes, and it’s time to do laundry. As you take out each piece to wash them and hang them, you’re acknowledging the separate pieces of the mess, and accepting the situation and the tasks necessary to clean up—much like when you take your personal inventory and accept that you are imperfect, that there are parts of yourself and your psyche that you must work to heal.
Recognize the gifts of acceptance
As you grow and practice acceptance towards yourself, you’re able to be more accepting of others. When we make peace with the fact that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be in the present moment, you can make peace with the variables of life around you, including other people. Compassion gives you the ability to grow in your own regard, while you also aid in other’s personal journey to self-acceptance.
Embrace the freedom of acceptance
Acceptance—though not an effortless task—is a freeing habit. Anxiety, stress, and depression can often be caused by the unwillingness to make peace with the terms of life. It is human nature to think that one can control and manipulate all of the components of reality, but you simply cannot. Peace and true serenity can only be found once you accept life on life’s terms.
As you find yourself troubled, upset by day to day struggles, situations, and others, remind yourself of the component of the serenity prayer in which you ask for the courage to change. When you’re feeling dissatisfied in those moments, figure out what you can change about yourself to accept the situations and people as they are in that exact moment.
After acceptance, comes gratitude
It’s important to remember that acceptance is not synonymous with tolerance. Acceptance is not the reluctant sigh at the end of a stressful day, nor the disgruntled statement, “it is what it is,” or “this is just who I am,” No, acceptance is total mindfulness grounded in reality.
Acceptance is the realization that your suffering, your anxieties, and stressors, are exacerbated in the moments in which you believe that you can successfully live your life or handle your recovery on your own terms. As you learn to accept and make peace with the way things are in this very moment, you step out of your own way and step forward on the path to growth.
The more often you practice acceptance, the more you will see that each moment has a purpose, a lesson to teach you, a reason for unfolding the way that it does. As you stay present in those moments and genuinely accept them, you may work to find ways to be grateful for life on life’s terms, further strengthening your recovery and improving your quality of day to day life.
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About Fellowship Hall
Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.