Acceptance is one of the greatest weapons that we carry in our life skills kitbags. It can literally be the catalyst which creates the momentum we need to improve our life journey or it can be the medium which crushes our self-belief, and hence stunts our growth. Really, who wants or needs that?
Readers may be starting to ponder, “Righto, it’s here. The blog started out OK but now I think Pete has lost the plot a bit.” How can acceptance be one of the most powerful tools we need for success? I am pretty sure that previous posts have directed our attention to taking responsibility for ourselves and implementing the changes that we want to see in our lives, right? I’m sure everyone remembers the post on responsibility.
Full post on responsibility click here:
Hear me out. Let us first look at what I mean by acceptance in a life journey scenario, and then we can make it crystal clear why acceptance is so important.
What is Acceptance?
Let’s take on the dictionary example first. When searching for the meaning of acceptance, a lot of answers came up. Additionally, the word ‘acceptance’ can be used in many contexts in terms of people, banking, behaviour, commerce, etc. I decided to take on a general meaning of:
“The act of taking or receiving something offered” – http://www.dictionary.com/browse/acceptance
Easy hey? Something has been offered and we are going to take or receive that something. But what is the something? I personally believe, working out what you need to accept in your life and what you should not accept, will lead you to your greatest life.
3 Types of Acceptance Which Should be at the Forefront of Your Focus
1. Acceptance of Others:
This is the most common form that people think of when they think of acceptance. Likewise, the accepting of others who are different from you in appearance and beliefs (so long as those beliefs are not illegal) is the law in most countries. Refusal to comply is known as discrimination.
This type of acceptance is the one that you hope all parents instil in their children. It allows everyone, even those who are different to us, to live harmoniously together. Failure to have this critical value within certain people has led to some atrocious disagreements over the years, which inevitably has led to wars, and the abysmal repercussions which follow. Not nice!
Fortunately, I am confident that those taking the time to read this blog article already have the acceptance of others already within them. Hence it would be superfluous to go into extra detail about it. Therefore in relation to others what we need to accept is how they are wired. Meaning what personality traits they have, and how you react to them.
Let’s have a quick example. I am sure we have all had to deal with people who we find rude. People who you think must wake up in the morning with the sole purpose of trying to be inconsiderate to as many people as they can. Now technically, they are not breaking the law however you find dealing and interacting with them quite difficult at times.
Now, as I repeatedly say, I am not tossing any stones here. Accepting the personality of others for me has been hard at times. Additionally, finding the equilibrium between where we accept others for who they are but make sure that we set boundaries on how we would like people to interact with us is an ever-growing challenge for me. Something that I consciously make an effort to spend time working on whether it is through journaling, meditating or just talking to myself and creating new focuses in my life, I always working on it!
So, fundamentally, we are accepting their personality traits and asking ourselves how we can respond, not subconsciously react, to make these interactions easier for ourselves. Conversely, without knowing it, you may have personality traits which others find it hard to take. Therefore, the acceptance of others on a personal level is vital.
2. Acceptance of the Past:
Here is one of the greatest and loftiest hurdles which people need to overcome and accept; the past. Factors which we cannot change have to be accepted before any progress can be made. Where you were born, what family you were born into, the amount of money at your exposal, the colour of your skin, gender, the body you were put in, the opportunities that you had when you were growing up, whether it was socially or in an educational context, cannot be changed.
Research any successful business person, entrepreneur, sports star and I am very confident that they will all agree with the following:
“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.”
Why wallow in self-pity about how you did not get the ‘start’ that you needed in life? Successful people – those who have achieved what they set out to do – will preach this until they are blue in the face; if that same time and energy you spent in self-pity was spent on things you can change, you could build up momentum and take your life in a new direction.
I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes. Yes there are other people who have had things given to them whereas you had to work years to achieve the same thing. When you were at school did you have that person who seemed to get everything? I am not saying that this person was at all bad, well they might have been for you, but did you ever say to yourself, “I wish I could get things as easily as them. It’s not fair.”
I personally remember a few people at school who when they got their driver’s license their parents bought them cars, some even had new cars. However the majority of us had to slave away at our part-time jobs to buy some old second-hand wreck of a car. My first vehicle was a motorbike. I couldn’t afford a car. So what?
The point is that if you cannot accept the situation that you were born into then I’m afraid you will find trying to steer your life in a new direction quite difficult and frustrating. Been there and done that. Correspondingly, you cannot change any decisions you have made in the past either. If bad decisions have been made then bad decisions have been made. You cannot change them now.
“Don’t dwell, but reflect on how things can be handled differently next time, and focus on things you can change.”
3. Acceptance of The Work It Takes
As just mentioned, accepting the deck you were dealt when you were younger is a major factor in changing one’s life. Take it one step further and accept that you may have to work twice, maybe ten times as hard, to get something which someone else got for free or for very little effort. Again, how you approach this fact of life – yes, it is a fact of life –carries a huge weight on how the rest of your life journey will develop.
No, I am not advocating to work until your eye-balls bleed and you’re stressed to the max. I mean accepting that like me, the work has to be put in to change our mindset, beliefs, actions and therefore routines to make ever-lasting change. Additionally, the just-mentioned work takes time, which we will have to accept as well.
No amount of ill-feelings towards others about what they have got ‘for nothing’ will change your situation or likewise, it won’t change theirs. In fact, if you have ever conjured these ill-feelings, you know that it can disadvantage you even more as your head will not be in the right place to make the positive changes you intend for yourself.
What Actions Can We Take Now?
Make a List:
1. Divide up a sheet of paper, word document on a computer, coloured card, anything that you can constantly refer to, into 2 columns. In the first column make a list of things that you complain about, or have in the past, that you cannot change. Take time to do this. Really think about things that you have been negative about or things you have blamed in the past. Hint: It’ll take real guts to admit all the things you’ve thought about negatively about or blamed others for. (I’m speaking from experience!)
2. In the second column write down all the things that you are maybe not happy with but you know they can be changed with a change from you. Again, really take the time to think about this. Some things that you want to change in your life may take a few steps along a certain period of time. But remember the end goal of this exercise is to realise that most situations that you are not happy with in your life can be changed by the most important person in your life: You!
A quick example: You want to earn more income in your life. To do this you may make plans to re-train or better yourself through extra education. This will take planning and this will take time. Moreover, you may have to plan to work overtime at your job just to pay for the extra education.
However just writing this down and accepting that this is how you will achieve this goal, as opposed to winning the lottery or wasting time complaining about it, is a huge change that you will thank yourself for in the future.
The following is an example of what your list may look like. For personal reasons this is not a copy of my list. I have made this list up on ‘complaints’ I have heard of in the past.
|Things I Cannot Change||I Have the Power to Change|
| *Where I was born. |
*The town I grew up in.
*The family I am a part of.
*Where I went to school when I was younger.
*The amount/lack of effort I put into my education when I was younger.
*Spending all my money on drinking when I was younger when I should have saved some of it and invested it.
*My general appearance e.g. skin colour. *My gender.
*The people I used to associate with. *The guy who is rude at work.
|*How I spend my time. |
*The job I go to everyday.
*How I spend the money that I do have. *The amount of income that I earn.
*Who I choose to have a relationship with. *Who I choose to associate with.
*The relationships I have with myself, my family and friends.
*The house, area, suburb, state or country where I live.
*My current education levels.
*How I respond to people who make my life difficult.
*How I respond to certain people.
*How I plan to live everyday.
*Who I have a positive influence on.
3. Analyse what you have written in both columns. Notice how you have written things in 2 columns. Now notice what is in between those 2 columns… Yes, a line. Warning! Corny metaphor coming up:
Use this physical line on your paper as a line that you are going to draw in your own life, accept and move on! Everything to the left on the line shouldn’t be an excuse to not progress in your life.
After you have stopped laughing at my corny metaphor, look at everything that you have written in the right column. Look how powerful you are that you have the ability, talent and resourcefulness in your life to change so much. To take this exercise one step further you can divide the list up into short, medium and long term aspirations. Again, you could refer to the previous goal setting post. (See link above)
Focus on the Positive
If you are busting you guts out to achieve something which you know somebody else has ‘inherited’ for nothing, embrace it. Think of the ‘intellectual muscle’ you are building up by going through the experience. People often ponder what is the best way to build up essential life skills such as determination, resilience and persistence? Easy, be in a situation where you are forced to be determined, resilient and persistent.
Similar to the recommendation above, be grateful that you have the intellectual and physical capacity to carry out the challenges which lie ahead of you. Knowing that you are the ‘Master of Destiny’ puts you in a privileged position. Remember you are changing your mind-set so every situation you encounter can be tailored to improving you.
Look for the Lesson
A wise friend of mine has one of the best outlooks when it comes to any situation which is thrown their way. This theory is also backed up by a great article from the Tiny Buddha website. They look at the reason why they had that encounter, similar to the two recommendations from the above. If it was a simple exchange between both people and they both took something away from the interaction, then synergy was exchanged and everything is sweet.
If the communication between them was a negative one then they looked at the reason why it was. Upon reflection if they believe they could have interacted in a way to stop the negativity, then they will mentally note this and move on, looking forward to the next interaction.
Conversely, if they believe that perhaps it could have been the other person acting negatively, they will see the interaction as an opportunity to practise their life skills; taking it on the chin; being empathetic towards the person (we don’t always know why some people behave the way they do); continuing to react in a positive way despite negativity from the other. Experiencing positivity can be contagious, for you and the other person.
Remember, forcing someone to change is the same as coercion and no-one reacts positively to coercion. You can be a role model or a positive influence for those around you. A lot of the time you have to take the initiative to be the person who is that positive influence.
Similarly, if you feel that, despite strong efforts from your part, the interactions between yourself and certain people are toxic, then it is probably in your best interest to avoid those interactions. No-one needs toxicity in their lives. Accept that situation and leave it in the past.
Looking to the Future
As you look to the future, you should feel a sense of empowerment. Accepting what you cannot change and working hard towards things you can change is an awesome feeling. The writer of this blog is starting to feel this empowerment themselves.
I’ll give a big “woohoo!” in advance for you knowing that when you start focusing on things you can change, it’ll be an awesome day for you.