For such a simple concept, acceptance can be hard to build. It’s a trait that allows adaptability and implies that you can allow situations, experiences, people, and yourself to be as you are. It can create positive thinking and help you progress in life when you cultivate acceptance.
But acceptance is a daunting trait to try and develop. So many times, it’s hard to accept things that are painful and difficult. So how can you build this skill? Here are four effective habits to cultivate acceptance.
1. Separate Yourself From Your Thoughts and Feelings
Cognitive defusion refers to a skill where you can let go of and separate yourself from your emotions and thoughts. Contrary to the way it sounds, this is not a tactic for avoidance or denial, and it’s a significant part of cultivating acceptance. This method of distancing works in the following ways:
· It Lets You Notice Emotions Without Being Controlled By Them
You need to pay attention to your feelings to accept them, and it’s not healthy to repress or deny your genuine emotions. But focusing on how you feel can also cause you to become stuck in them, leading to the risk of being controlled by those complex emotions. That’s why separating yourself from your feelings is so valuable – it lets you watch them and pay attention to them in a logical way without being innately affected by them. Research finds that this separation allows you to change the status of your emotions while observing them as they come and go instead of focusing on their strength or how long they last.
It seems counterproductive to decrease believability in the experiences that you have. Still, studies show that this is a crucial part of cultivating acceptance, primarily through emotional regulation. When you decrease that believability, you also lessen the degree of attachment and reliance on your feelings, thoughts, and past experiences as a self-defining feature. The less attached you are to those things, the more likely you are to be able to accept them instead of dwell on them.
· It Lets You Witness Them From The Outside
Have you ever noticed that people who are too close to a subject have trouble seeing what’s obvious to everyone a little further away? As an outside witness to your own emotions, you’ll be able to observe yourself without being too close to the subject, so you can see it as a third party would. This kind of perspective-shifting is crucial for positive thinking and self-compassionate acceptance, as it helps to contextualize what you experience with realism, say studies.
So the next time you find yourself struggling with emotions and feelings related to an inability to accept reality and truth, take a step back. View your feelings and thoughts as separate from you, and you’ll be able to analyze better and understand them, which will push you towards acceptance.
2. Understand What Acceptance Is Not
A lot of people refuse to cultivate acceptance because they have false ideas of what acceptance truly is. You may even have negative beliefs about what acceptance entails, causing you to want to avoid it altogether. But the truth about acceptance may surprise you! Here’s what acceptance is not:
· Avoiding Improvement
Some people may conflate the concept of acceptance with apathy, believing that it’s an inherently uncaring behavior that relinquishes agency and may even be akin to giving up on growth and development altogether. But that’s not the case! Acceptance is vital to improvement. It allows you to understand yourself better. So acknowledge the positive and negative sides of reality, and accept that there are things that you need to work on. It’s the furthest from avoiding improvement – it’s instrumental to the process!
· Supporting Or Wanting What You Accept
Acceptance doesn’t mean necessarily liking what you’re accepting, nor does it suggest that you support or want it. Instead, it’s about avoiding the unnecessary suffering caused by rejecting a reality just because you dislike it or don’t want it. It would be best to accept when the fact is outside your control to shift your focus onto things you can control or do to handle the situation better. Acceptance allows you to exist as is without shame, which in turn will enable you to shed excess pain and focus energy on forwarding momentum.
· Being Passive
Some people think of acceptance as something passive that means letting things happen without caring about the world. In fact, acceptance is a very active skill, and it’s also a perishable one. It takes constant work and effort to commit to consciously accepting the present state of yourself and your life, and the less you practice the skill, the less likely you are to be able to perform it time and time again. Acceptance is always overriding the natural urges you feel to try and control the uncontrollable, and it’s constantly aware of the truth so you can make more informed decisions. It’s the furthest thing from being passive!
When you overcome false ideas of acceptance and start focusing on the truth of the skill, you’ll find cultivating it is a more appealing idea.
As previously mentioned, acceptance is an active skill, not a passive one. It requires vigilance and awareness of the self, especially of your inner thoughts and emotions, and a realistic grasp of the world around you. Only with this awareness can you know what it is that you need to accept. Here are some tips for building that awareness:
· Be Completely Honest With Yourself
It’s hard to confront uncomfortable facts or realities about yourself and your thoughts. There may be things you’re ashamed of about yourself that you push away, so you don’t have to think about them. Unfortunately, those things are the very things you need to accept. It’s time to get radically honest about the roots of your issues and the core of your values. Spend time journaling, reflecting, examining your thoughts, and talking to yourself like a friend. These steps will help you become more aware of yourself, even when those aspects aren’t things you’re the proudest of. Once you’re aware of them, you can accept them, and once you accept them, you can change them.
· Develop A Willingness To Experience
If you want to be aware, you have to be willing to be aware, along with all that this may entail. You must be ready to deal with negative emotions and maintain an openness to them, say studies, no matter how complex or uncomfortable they may be. This willingness must then also extend to experiences and circumstances of life. You don’t have to like where you are, but you have to be ready to deal with what comes with it. Only then can you indeed be aware of everything with no sense of denial or avoidance?
· Be Present And Mindful
Mindfulness and the act of being present allow you to pay attention to your emotions, thoughts, and environment, which is an excellent key to awareness. Studies have found that this is a positive part of cultivating acceptance. It works hand in hand with a willingness to experience. And the fact that mindfulness is such an essential part of everyday health and wellbeing helps, too!
4. Take Responsibility
Cultivating acceptance doesn’t mean that you never accept responsibility for the things you’ve done. It’s a big step that should accompany commitment if you truly want to cultivate genuine, positive acceptance. They don’t call it “accepting” responsibility for no reason, after all!