The Pathway of Acceptance
Recently, I introduced you to my personal growth and wellness program, How to Live like an Expert. In that discussion, I introduced you to the 10 pathways I have identified that help you return to expert status in your life. Today, we will discuss the Pathway of Acceptance.
Let me start by saying that when I came into the field of psychology the mission was always Change: full force straight ahead change. That was my duty and that was the expectation. As I began working, I began to feel frustrated when things didn't change. I felt like the message I had received was that with behavioral psychology you could change anything, but it didn't always happen that way. The more clients I treated, the more I began to realize that a lot of the work was actually about acceptance. We needed to accept who we are and what we are experiencing AND we needed to accept the process of personal growth itself; that it is not a linear line, but that we all move forward and backward and even hold still, that change has its own rhythm and we don’t always or even often get to decide what it is.
I see these two forms of acceptance (acceptance of self and of process) as the Pathway of Acceptance. You can’t reclaim yourself as expert of your own life if you don’t accept who you are and you won’t take the right actions towards returning to your expert status if you are fighting or trying to hurry the process. Why do most people fail at a goal? Because they give up too quickly or too easily. They hit a rough patch and instead of accepting that it is a part of the journey, they think they have failed and throw in the towel. In order to see something through, we have to accept that it is going to be a rocky ride and that sometimes we will feel as if we are standing still or even worse regressing. The journey of personal growth and self-actualization are no different, but that is the time to hang on tight, accept the journey, and continue on with right action (another pathway to your expert self).
Through my work with clients and in my own personal experiences, I have learned that we need to honor ALL that we are, even our limitations, especially the biologically programmed ones (e.g. a tendency towards anxiety or depression, our weight and body structure...). I help people accept and love themselves, appreciate their strengths and their frailties. It was not until this acceptance took hold, could people then make the proper adaptations which allowed them to live more fully and to come closer to (if not fully achieving) their goals. For that matter, when people accepted their true self, they chose better goals for themselves that they could attain.
While many people seem to equate acceptance with giving up, this simply is not true. In fact, the irony of it all is that in opening that door of acceptance, change walks through as well. It turns out that it is not always about trying harder; sometimes it is just about trying differently. Reaching within yourself to love and accept yourself no matter what and then taking the right actions based on whom you truly are (which you now understand so much better because you’re not fighting yourself anymore) is the act of someone who has taken back their role as expert of their own life.
Ask yourself, "What do I need to accept today?"