Acceptance /ak-sep-tuh ns/
The act of taking or receiving something offered; favorable reception; approval; the act of assenting or believing.
There are things in this life that we have no control over. For those of us who are Type A, this can be a difficult concept to grasp. Take it as it is. You have no say. You have no voice. You have no control. That’s quite a flustering thought and you are probably thinking, I do, and I will not accept reading that. So, how can we actually accept the things we cannot change and why is it so difficult to just let go?
The reason is quite simple. Along with the notion of acceptance comes the fact that there are also things in this life that we do not need to accept. I do not need to stand down and accept the things that I feel in my heart are wrong. I am not weak. I will not surrender. I am strong. I am independent. We have mantras to help us work through the times that we don’t feel solid. I have to be a firm believer in myself and my choices in order to obtain self-acceptance. If I stand strong in my beliefs and identify something as unacceptable, I then gain the strength to become acceptable to myself. Isn’t that a funny concept? It seems like a contradiction, but it is not. The kicker: Should you choose to act or react is up to you.
Have you ever been put in a situation with a friend or family member, or complete stranger, in which you just did not accept their beliefs or their behaviors about choices they make or their opinions? Have you ever felt so strongly that another person was just wrong? In these scenarios, we really only have two choices. We can accept that person for who they are and we can accept ourselves for what we are, or we can find them to be unacceptable. Which decision, in the end, would you find the most gratifying? Being able let go and walk away, or continuing to hold on to the things out of your control? The first scenario grants us freedom; the latter, to be imprisoned with our angers, thoughts, fears, anxieties. Sounds exhausting. Which would you prefer? The difficulty here is making that decision. It is not easy.
We must contemplate the yogic belief of the niyama, Santosha. Santosha means contentment, happiness. According to The Yamas and Niyamas, “Oscar Wilde once said that there are two kinds of unhappiness in the world. One that is not getting you what you want; the other is getting what you want. Perhaps he knew that satisfying our likes and avoiding our dislikes just keeps us on a roller coaster of needing to continue to satisfy our likes and avoid our dislikes. True freedom and contentment begin to find their way to us when we can see things as they are, neutral, and not spend so much energy manipulating things according to our preferences” (p. 123). Imagine that? Contentment is not about getting what you want! It’s about the ability to halt the negative and the positive and find the neutral, the acceptance.
Consider this: You have an argument with your significant other that lasts three days. You can’t get the topic off your mind. They did something wrong. You are right, and you can’t even believe that they are not agreeing with you or seeing it from your perspective. You both walk around on egg shells with steam coming out of your ears. We have all been there. We have all played this game. The nerve of them! Your feathers are ruffled. Your lips are pursed and you are not backing down. Don’t look at me, don’t touch me, don’t even breathe in my direction until you apologize.
Now, in one word, sum up the point. Not of the argument, but the point of winning. Satisfaction? I am satisfied that I won and you lost. Gratification? I am gratified that I won and you lost. In each of these, you are gripping on to something that can’t be gripped. A feeling. A thought. It will weigh you down. Do you really win if someone else loses? Contentment is not found at the expense of someone else; It can only be found within. Contentment allows us to accept things as they are. I can accept that we disagree. I can identify what I find to be unacceptable, and I can let go. I am content that I accept.
In the end, the most important thing for us to accept is ourselves. As we are. With all the flaws, defects and baggage. We must learn to accept our mistakes and mishaps. Once we can accept ourselves, we will become content.