“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
-p. 449, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Third Edition)
Acceptance. Simple to say. Hard to do.
How do we find acceptance in a world where we see so much that we find unacceptable? We seem to be conditioned to live in a state of continual disapproval. Our bodies aren’t thin enough, our bank accounts not fat enough, our iPhones outdated, the weather too hot, too cold, the price of oil too high, too low. There is always a state of lack; some thing, some place, some feeling or some reality that we find unacceptable.
Most Western societies are organized in a way that aggravates the condition of unacceptability. The advertising industry points out every area of our material lives that we need to upgrade. The beauty industry points out every area of our appearance that we need to perfect. The political system points out every area where the government in power is failing and insufficient. The corporate world points out where we need to slash funding and make cutbacks to improve the bottom line.
Then we have wars, famine, disease, terrorism, climate change, the extinction of majestic animals and plants. How are we supposed to accept the reality of our lives and the condition of the planet today?
The irony in this conundrum is that the more we practice acceptance, the less we will perceive lack. The more we practice acceptance, the more the planet will begin to heal where it needs to heal. When we operate in a state of struggle and rejection, we create a self-propagating system around us that works to stoke those very states of being. If we were to accept whole-heartedly what we have, what we are, what others have and what others are, we would eliminate an enormous amount of pain and struggle. Interpersonal conflict arises when we refuse to accept another person or their point of view for what it is. When we impose our will on another or on a situation because we find that person or place unacceptable, we create a situation of conflict and strife. When we stop looking for and focusing on areas of lack – in ourselves and in others – we move towards a state of peacefulness.
In a state of peacefulness we make better choices. We don’t need to spend and spend to fill a hole within us telling us that what we have and what we are is unacceptable. We don’t need to abuse the planet and strip it of all its worth in order to further the myth of ‘not enough’ in our lives. We don’t need to redesign our bodies and our faces to achieve a standard of acceptability. We don’t need to continually argue, fight, and impose our definition of right and wrong on others. We eliminate a great deal of pain.
It sounds rather utopian and simplistic, no? Acceptance does not happen overnight. It is a process. The path to acceptance requires the following: finding stillness and quiet to listen to our inner voice, that infallible inner guide. That voice within is the one that lets us know that we have exactly what we need in this moment and that if we approach the world from a place of acceptance, all our other desires will be met almost effortlessly. Acceptance means surrendering, surrendering to the process, to our powerlessness over people, places, things, situations. Acceptance means working with whatever is placed in our path. Acceptance means waking up each day and meeting life on life’s terms. Acceptance means surrendering to the path of least resistance. Acceptance takes work of a different kind of effort. We are primed to fight and reject, not to surrender and accept.
If we each, however, work on accepting our little corner of the world, our microcosm of life, the powerful energetic waves of this act of surrender will be amplified at the level of society. Like the foreshocks of an earthquake, each individual act of acceptance will lead to a larger shaking up of the world’s energetic field and to a shift in karmic energy the world over.
So today, focus on bringing even a hint more of acceptance into your daily life. From the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous I leave you with this:
“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” (p.449, Third Edition)