What acceptance is not; a passive tolerance of mistreatment or injustice. A license to become a doormat or let people and situations trample you and your own wellbeing.
What acceptance is: That will take a little more explanation, if you'll bear with me.
I'll demonstrate the difference acceptance makes in my life with reference to a recent scenario that I experienced. When I moved back to the U.K, I was buying a house (a notoriously stressful event) and was waiting on some funds to reach me from Hong Kong. Due to covid and the backlog that has created in all communication and postage, these funds took over 6 months to arrive. At one point I could have lost the house sale as a result. If I wasn't practicing acceptance in my life, those few months could have been hellish.
They could have looked like this: me on the phone to various people, angry, shouting and demanding things be expedited. I could have spent every night worrying about it, unable to sleep, stressed and projecting into the future about how terrible things were going to turn out, how I'd have to start looking for a place all over again, and how much time I'd wasted. This is what life looks like when we rail against the way things are in the now. We create suffering because we refuse to accept the situation and constantly push against it in some futile attempt to impose our personal will on it, to control it.
With acceptance, the same situation looked more like this; I still made numerous calls to people, but I communicated calmly, firmly and politely. I didn't project into the future or mourn the future loss of a house I hadn't even yet bought, but I spoke with others and came up with a solution. When the worries came, I acknowledged them and let them go, reminding myself, I'm not in control of the outcome of any given situation. All I can do is my part and the rest is up to others, the universe etc. Of course acceptance is easier to practice if things eventually turn out the way you want them to, however, the real point of acceptance is understanding that we can influence events, but never control outcomes.
Acceptance is a continual practice, which involves recognising whenever you feel resistance to the now. e.g. I hate washing the dishes, I wish it wasn't raining, oh it's a shame that person had to show up, I wish that...... Any time we feel resistance in the moment to what we are doing, or to some aspect of reality, we are in the opposite of acceptance, and that is a root cause of suffering.
Just a reminder that acceptance is not the passive 'lying down' and acceptance of injustice or mistreatment. In those situations, we must always speak up for what is right. What we all must be careful to understand though, is that our actions can influence outcomes, but not control them. We do what we can and then let go, accepting the reality of any outcome.
This is a conscious way to live as it keeps us accountable for when we are personally railing against the reality of any given situation and creating our own suffering. We often blame external factors for our stress or our anger, but these are just feelings that arise within us. The external factor will persist, whether or not we are angry or complaining or shouting at it. We can choose the way we manage our internal response to external events, and acceptance is the mechanism by which we can begin to practice this management of our inner worlds.
Why not try practicing some acceptance today? Start small, try to release your resistance to something you do every day but don't usually enjoy, for example, washing the dishes or cleaning the kitchen. Just immerse yourself in the experience and try not to mentally resist it. Have a beautiful day everyone.