By Mod Rose
I’ve been quiet because I’ve been struggling…. here’s why.
Acceptance was not a principle I’d worried too much about, or even thought too much about. I felt like Honesty had been a challenge but in a good way, and meditation was finally starting to feel like a process I could embrace and so I flicked to Acceptance without trepidation only to hit a wall. A big one.
It wasn’t a specific exercise that didn’t click or a sentence that stopped me in my tracks but a much more fundamental realisation; I couldn’t slip easily into acceptance without first dealing with my resistance to the very idea of being accepting. Somehow, without ever really meaning to, I’d built my personality around an eternal, theoretical struggle, my sense of self strengthened and formed by my constant outrage and battle against the things I deemed unacceptable in my world.
Unlike honesty, which I’d been striving for with varying levels of success my whole life, I had reached adulthood believing that acceptance made me weak. “Acceptance”, that angry little voice inside me yelled, “is for the stupid and the powerless. Look at the world. Look how unfair it is. Think what you could change, resist this, rail against that, fight every day against the universal unfairness of things, for that is what you have to do to be a success.”
And so I had fought, against opponents big and small, real and imagined, movable and immovable. Where I saw a roadblock, be it an opinion I disagreed with, a dumb sexist joke or a multinational company that refused to see their flaws as damaging, I stood up, raised my hand and set my shoulder to the fight. I had never stopped to consider that not all of these fights were mine, let alone that in strapping on armour and wading in I might be doing more damage to myself than I was doing good to the situation. Often, when things didn’t go my way I’d heap blame on myself for not being able to change things and internalise both the anger, the sense of failure, all of which contributed to my overall sense of frustration It built. Like scar tissue
Honesty forced me to admit that I was unhappy. Acceptance has forced me to admit I am not a superhero, and that my anger and frustration, however righteous, more often strikes a blow against me than my perceived enemy. I am not going to win any sort of war for “good” whether on a personal or a wider level, by throwing myself blindly into every battle I pass, just to satisfy my need to participate.
So, before I can begin to practice acceptance, I need to give myself permission to accept it as a valid action, an alternative approach to challenges. I need to overwrite the idea in my head that acceptance is passive and therefore weak. To truly engage with acceptance, I need to reprogram my mind to analyse injustices as I come across them. I need to integrate the serenity prayer into my decision making process, to use my intelligence to distinguish the truly unacceptable from the irritating and impossible. And then I must actively choose to accept those battles that I cannot win, reminding myself that sometimes choosing not to engage makes the strongest statement and knowing when to wait until a difference is possible is the smartest move.
The world is still unfair, and I’m now beginning to realise that acceptance isn’t endorsing an unacceptable thing or saying “that’s okay” to injustice, it’s about accepting that on a universal scale, I can’t fix it. I’m just one woman, and by letting go of the unchangeable, I free up energy and strength to focus on the things I can change. Acceptance isn’t defeat, it’s just good strategy for the long term. After all, nobody ever moved a mountain by just standing alone at the bottom and pushing.