Acceptance is a strong influence in aging well. The older you get, the more your capabilities, your stamina, and your energy change - it’s inevitable. You tire more quickly, have more aches and pains, and are probably less motivated than you once were.
To accept means agreeing that something is happening and deciding what you want to do about it. To resist “that something” causes feelings of distress. Buddhist philosophists say that pain x resistance = suffering. In other words, fighting against or resisting reality creates suffering.
You can accept or reject reality- it’s true. However, rejecting something doesn't change anything, it just causes pain, suffering and stress. No one is suggesting you like, want, or support whatever it is to be accepted; but, by struggling against it, you create undue suffering for yourself.
Dr. Phillip McGraw, author of several books and host of the television show Dr. Phil, identified 10 Life Laws. The 4th Life Law says ‘a person can’t change what he or she doesn’t acknowledge.”
His solution includes being honest about life and everybody in it, being truthful about what isn’t working, and making no excuses.
Acceptance or acknowledgement, what’s the difference? Definitions that ring true for me are that acceptance means having a willingness to experience things as they are with approval and peacefulness. Acknowledgement means recognizing that something as true.
I have trouble accepting that my husband had dementia, contracted COVID at a memory care facility, and died. According to the definitions, if I accepted those facts it would mean that I am at peace with them and I am not. However, I can acknowledge his death and the circumstances leading to it.
To a degree, I am comforted with the knowledge that acceptance is not something to be forced and that often it begins with an inability to accept; then finding a way to do so.
Maybe it would help, if I thought of acceptance differently. What if I viewed acceptance as not meaning agreement and acknowledged that some things in life aren’t just or fair? Secondly, what if saw acceptance not as a weakness but an act of courage to face reality not in my favor? What if I could view acceptance as not giving up, but realizing that my time and effort are best applied elsewhere? What if I thought of acceptance not as quitting but as a shift in focus from what I can’t change to what I can? Finally, what if I saw acceptance not as resignation but the first step in overcoming the misfortunes I experience? Seems like that might make a difference.
The Tiny Buddha website offers alot of thoughts about acceptance:
The message I took from the website was that acceptance is a choice. And I haven’t been able to make it quite yet.