We talk about acceptance in such a flippant way sometimes. Especially in regards to difficult times, pain, bad news and dislikes. However, what happens when someone says you need to accept something? Do you feel tense, a little uneasy, confused? Of course you do, we can't just accept things at the drop of a hat!
The definition of acceptance is to realise the reality of a situation and be at peace with it. When you break it down like this you can see it's not an over night flick of a switch. For example living with pain requires a level of kindness to oneself and an ability to be with things as they are to move on and carry on in life. The journey to finding a space for peace and living with the reality is sometimes not an obvious quick one. In fact the more we try to achieve acceptance the more difficult it can feel. When working with pain, acceptance is not a word in my vocabulary. Finding some peace, learning about the mind-body link, not resisting the emotional pull and becoming aware of how to change the relationship to pain are all much more sensible. Acceptance is a very tricky term and I honestly think it is bandied around too much. So many people become frustrated and resistant when they are told they need to accept something.
When thinking about changing the relationship with something difficult in life let's drop the term acceptance for now. Start by examining this something when you can, sit quietly and face the emotions involved, feel them in your body, allow them. Let's leave the mind and the racing thoughts for now and sit with the emotional pull. When we are not striving for anything, when we don't have a big goal when working with difficulties it is a lot easier for some people. Relationships to difficult things change when we explore them, become curious and allow ourselves to feel the primary emotion and not get carried away by the secondary thoughts (which tie us up in knots). We are working towards a shift in our relationship to something, not necessarily immediate acceptance.
Being kind to ourselves and others is about allowing things to just be a little bit more. Not trying to change, change happens much more naturally when we allow things to be, for example a sad event in life. Just feeling the emotion of this event, allowing ourselves to explore how it feels without resisting, running or getting taken on a thought journey. So don't put pressure on yourself to accept something difficult, perhaps see it as a process of relationship change by allowing curiosity and kindness. Things are always changing, nothing stays the same.