“Accept it like it is” might be a phrase you have heard before. But what exactly is acceptance? And how do you implement acceptance into your life to improve it? How can acceptance benefit you?

What is acceptance?

Acceptance refers to recognizing and accepting the reality of a situation, experience, or emotion without trying to fight, change or avoid it. Sometimes acceptance is viewed as passivity, or giving up, but it is far from it. Acceptance can take a great amount of motivation and resilience, especially if it is something that you don’t support or like. However, just because we accept something, doesn’t mean we cannot work toward changing it. Acceptance can be a good first step to moving forward and making a commitment to progress or change, and thus, can have an important role in therapy. One type of therapy that puts a lot of emphasis on acceptance is ACT, otherwise known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – also known as ACT – theorizes that trying to control or suppress our emotions can paradoxically lead to more distress and intensify these emotions. A good example of this is anxiety, where by constantly trying to control it, we put more focus and attention on the negative feelings.This in turn actually leads to an increase in anxiety, creating more distress. ACT believes that stress and hurt are a natural and inevitable part of life. By accepting the experience, it can help to obtain some inner peace. The pain will still be there but you will suffer less from it.

Worrying and obsessing over something that we cannot control, can leave us stuck. The distraction and struggle become the block to reaching our goals. ACT proposes that instead of directly working against our emotions, we should accept them compassionately as a natural response to our experiences and commit to making changes in areas that are possible. 

This video gives a nice metaphor for acceptance:

Practising acceptance

There are various techniques that can be used to practice acceptance: 

  • Mindful acceptance 

Observe and be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations at any given moment, without judging them or consciously trying to change them. Observe them and let them pass. 

  • Label your experiences and emotions 

Acknowledge their presence. Treat them with curiosity and openness. 

Embrace your flaws and weaknesses with care, compassion, and patience.  Allow yourself to not be good at everything, but also acknowledge your character strengths. 

Remember that acceptance, like most other skills, takes practise; try to be patient with yourself. However, do you want help or support practising acceptance? Contact our NiceDay Team, they will gladly guide you to a suitable professional!

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Martijn Thomas

Hi, I am Martijn, psychologist at NiceDay. In my spare time I like to produce music, exercise and hangout with friends.

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