4 Ways to Cultivate Acceptance

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 21, 2014

in change, life, Values, worry

So awhile back I started writing down what values are important to me. I came up with a list of like 50. I decided to go in alphabetical order, which led to to write about abundance first, a loaded topic for many of us.

Next up on my giant list (you can see the whole thing here) is acceptance. I’d like to think that I know something about this. I’ve moved through some pretty big ground in my short life and thought I would share how I try to get into acceptance.

1. Get into nature. There are so many beautiful things nature can teach us and one of the best ones is that seasons change. There is no denying that summer turns to fall and the light starts to fade a bit more each night. It’s hard to insist that everything will stay just like you want it when even the most beautiful and perfect flowers wither, die and return to the ground.

It’s hard to ignore my feelings or find a distraction when I’m out hiking. So often what I like to deny is what’s going on inside of me, so getting quiet next to the river gives me a moment to not only listen to myself but also realize it just is. And that’s OK.

awe inspiring nature

Nature inspires awe and acceptance.

2. Embrace the dorky sentiments. “It is what it is” isn’t popular because it’s so innane. Although maybe not everyone who uses it understands, it’s a way of saying that you can’t change what is.

You must accept it and change yourself. Or live in denial, refuse to evolve and evaporate.

So while you might get a little annoyed by “Whatever happens, happens,” or “Take it as it comes,” and the like, they’re more than just phrases uttered by folks who aren’t paying attention. In fact, sometimes they are the ones who are paying attention.

3. Stop taking things personally. So much of what we get upset about — the things we want to change and avoid and deny — is more about us taking things personally. I’ve been finding this more and more as I practice this. (I picked it up from The Four Agreements, an excellent read.)

So many things I wish would be different or that I’ve really refused to accept are things I take personally. And I’ve learned that as much as my ego wants me to believe it, nothing is really about me.

Not the careless comment I take to mean I’m lame for not drinking, not the rude Facebook message I’m still struggling to understand and not even the abuse I suffered as a child. None of that was about me. And it makes all of it so much easier to stomach when I look at it from that perspective.

4. Understand you’re not always meant to understand. As most parents know, curiousity can be something of an annoyance after awhile. To better illustrate that point, I bring you this gem from Louis C.K.

Although I’m no longer a child, I often ask why. Or I want to know why not. Or I’d like you to explain to me a contradiction.

I know that I do this because one day in German class my teacher finally had it.

“Nicht ‘Ja aber,’ Rebecca! Nicht ‘Ja aber’!”

This roughly translates to, “No more ‘yes, but …’ from you Rebecca. Just accept that this language makes no sense to you and speak it.”

When you try and understand something, you’re trying to find a box in your head that it will slide into. Or a chest of drawers. And when it doesn’t fit you’re left hip checking it like I do Sante’s overflowing sock drawer.

So just let it be. It doesn’t have to fit somewhere. It can sit there and exist and you don’t have to do a damn thing about it.

Acceptance is like exercise and, actually, language skills. You’ve got to practice it. You’re never done learning it. You just keep trying new things and different techniques, keeping the ones you like and letting other folks use the ones you don’t.

What acceptance tactics do you use? I’m curious as I keep cultivating this habit.

P.S. The second part of my writing class is next week. You can still sign up and listen to part one as a replay!

This is an ongoing series about values. You can read the archives here or check out my entire list of  those that are important to me.

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