Acceptance of the Unacceptable

Acceptance is a loaded concept, at least it has been to me. In the past, when a well-meaning friend or family member would counsel me to accept an upsetting situation and to move on, I was indignant! Acceptance meant that I was either giving up, being walked all over, or I was pretending to be “fine” with a disturbing event. Or it could be interpreted as something even worse: that I was weak! I was proud of myself for being a fighter, for working hard and clawing my way above expectations. Accept being defeated? Accept things I didn’t like? Hell no! I was ready to put up my dukes and start fighting! After decades of resistance and conflict, most of which was internal, I learned a much deeper way of appreciating what acceptance means, and it has changed my life.

The way I define acceptance today is a willingness to let go of the way circumstances “should be” showing up and objectively seeing reality as it is. While this may sound passive, it’s not necessarily so. Let’s say you didn’t get a specific job you applied for, it doesn’t mean that you don’t go out and apply for another one. And if you accept the reality that you didn’t get the first job, you’ll be looking for your next one with a lot less drama and angst.

Acceptance is being emotionally aligned with what is, however, it doesn’t mean you like it or that you won’t do something to change it.

Acceptance of a situation does not mean it’s desirable or morally acceptable.

As much as I disdain these sorts of stale platitudes emerging from the lips of various politicians, prayer and meditation are carrying me right now. And breath, always breath. The tools of yoga are once again carrying me when I cannot hold myself up. Applying this principle of acceptance in our lives is not a knee-jerk reaction, especially when we’re confronted with the horrific tragedies we’ve faced over the last two weeks. The unspeakable is the only word that shows up in my mind when I turn my attention to Uvalde. Frankly, I feel like a hypocrite, because I don’t know if I’ve accepted this latest massacre.

So, keep it simple, start slowly, and ease your way into this aspect of yoga. Maybe practice with traffic or your neighbor’s dog barking. “I accept the situation as it is, even though I don’t like it” Can you let go of the idea that the light should be green, that the driver ahead of you should obey the speed limit, or that the dog next door should stop barking? Reality isn’t out to get you, it simply is.

With consistent practice, your acceptance muscle with get stronger. Before you know it, you’ll be able to come to the bigger challenges life gives us, with clear eyes and objective focus. The change we wish to see in the world…, it starts with you, it starts with me.

Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of strength in this world – Eckart Tolle