Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about acceptance – specifically, about accepting our own emotions. Acceptance is not the same as “feeling good about” something. The dictionary defines it as “the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.” Acceptance is an active behavior, not a passive feeling – it is something we need to DO. What does it look like to accept our feelings? Here are some examples:
Let’s say I feel nervous about going to a birthday party. What if no one talks to me – or worse, what if someone does and I make a fool of myself?! If I follow my instinct to deny that fear or avoid it, chances are I’ll stay home and watch TV. Accepting my fear means recognizing the fear and going anyway. It means I say “I am afraid of this thing, but my friend’s birthday matters to me and I am going to go to her party and talk to people. My worry can come along for the ride.”
Here’s another tough one. Fear of loss. I doubt there is a parent alive who does not worry about his or her children sometimes! Accepting fear means accepting that life can be dangerous. There are no guarantees. If I wanted to create a guarantee of safety, fully prevent anything bad, I would have to keep my child at home and watch them 24/7. Avoid A LOT. And in doing so – I would create an incompetent child who doesn’t trust themselves, or their ability to cope. I have to accept that there are risks, accept that I am scared, accept that living and letting my kids live means walking forward even if I have to take my fear by the hand and bring it along with me.
Acceptance. It’s an active choice.