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In February of this year I wrote a blog post titled, “Accept Your Loss and Reclaim Your Life.”
Acceptance is a necessary step in helping us recover from losses.
When we accept our circumstances, their formidable impact on our life is reduced while helping us find ways to reconcile and heal.
In many ways, we are addressing stressful events every day. We acknowledge, accept, look for options and work to find solutions instead of allowing them to create ongoing turmoil. Because acceptance is such an important concept, I want to expand on how it can help us lower stress levels in our daily lives.
We are currently living in uncommon stressful times: the pandemic, inability to go back to work; wondering whether our kids can go back to school, whether we will have enough money to pay our bills or if life will ever return to normal. Add to that the emotional stress that is generated as we try to communicate and work together to solve the escalating problems we face.
We were made for stress.
To live is to experience stress, good or bad. It helps us accomplish our goals. It energizes us to plan and build.
It is when stress comes from problems we don’t know how to fix, ongoing disagreements within our marriage, our kids getting into trouble or having that extra responsibility of caring for aging parents that we feel more and more distress.
Add to that ongoing underlying differences and arguments with in-laws and we have our own epidemic in our homes. Because we don’t know what to do, we keep responding in the same way over and over again, even when it isn’t working.
Denial, minimization, and avoidance
To reduce the consequences of the problems we face, we often deny, minimize, or avoid them. We may fight or resist and persuade ourselves that if only the other person would change, things would be better. We convince ourselves there is nothing else we can do to bring about a more positive resolution.
How can acceptance make a difference?
“I can’t get anything done. I have to do everything around here. Why can’t my spouse and the kids do more? Why don’t they understand why I need some rest too? All I want is some quiet time – is that too much to ask?”
Every time you think you are being ill-treated or abused, your emotional response gets more and more intense and soon becomes a pattern of how you approach all problems. Before you realize it, you are waking up feeling angry and frustrated waiting for the next shoe to drop.
The tension and conflict that is created when we feel we have few or no choices is enormous. And stress created by ongoing feelings of anxiety, foreboding, and anger has the same effect on our body as if we opened the door and saw a tiger snarling at us. The body quickly activates the F/F Response.
But today’s tiger is the responses we make and maintain regarding our problems. Your body is activated, but there is no place to use those F/F body preparations, and they begin to work against us.
- Acceptance means we accept the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
- Acceptance means acknowledging what is happening without blame, denial, or additional exaggerations.
- Acceptance means we stop fighting and resisting.
Like the angry child Mom holds tightly in her arms until he stops fighting, we also hang on to our hurts, our disappointments, and our responses. We continue to fight because we don’t see alternatives. Without acceptance, we remain stuck in an unending spiral going nowhere. It is where we can start working on solutions.
Acceptance requires honesty and honesty can be painful.
- It is much easier to blame someone or something rather than become responsible.
- It is much easier to become defensive or complacent rather than assertive.
- It is easier to hide behind what we or others should, must or have to do rather than make tough choices.
In the process, we become a victim and unknowingly resort to manipulation and blame to reduce conflict and tension.
Here are some typical responses people make when asked to accept their ongoing difficulties in order to find a resolution.
- Accept? It might be easy for you to say – you didn’t have a mother like I did. Or a father who came home drunk and beat us. You didn’t have a sister who was the darling of the family. You weren’t compared to a brother who could do no wrong. Nothing I did was ever good enough.
- Accept? I can’t be laid off. I’m a single parent. My ex doesn’t pay child support and I am struggling to survive. I’m exhausted and stressed to the max. Or, I don’t want to accept the fact that I am out of work and have to start over – again.
- Angry? You bet I’m angry. Somebody is always telling me what to do, even when I try my hardest. It’s never good enough! Life sucks! Accept? Accept what? What choices do I have?
- If I accept – what does that make me? A doormat?
Acceptance does not mean that we have given up or that we will become a passive participant to life. In the process of acceptance, we begin to accept all parts of who we are – our strengths and our weaknesses. We stop trying to prove ourselves and instead begin to focus on finding solutions.
Acceptance tells me I’m okay. No matter what has happened, I can begin again.
With acceptance we can better define the problem.
Letting go of our need to be right can help us come to grips with our own imperfections. Letting go of our belief that we have all the answers or have it all together allows us to see things from a new perspective. Acceptance gives us the opportunity to ask what we really want and move towards finding practical solutions.
Acceptance means a new beginning. I start right where I am – right here – right now.
We can’t force change, but we can impact what happens by altering our attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs as we seek better solutions. Acceptance allows our energy to be used to explore what we really want instead of remaining fixated on what we don’t want.
Acceptance means I do not have to stay in this uncomfortable spot – I can learn and gain from it.
Acceptance allows us to gain wisdom from our past. It acknowledges that we will not have all the answers we need by ourselves. It acknowledges there is a God, a creator who is still in charge, and reaches down to help us.
Acceptance allows us to take charge and begin to problem-solve to find answers that work for everyone. We can reduce the stress by how we approach our problems and the decisions we make.
Do you want to turn your stress into a positive force?
My Make Stress Work for You bundle will help you:
- Identify the personal stressors that create high levels of distress in your life
- Learn how to identify problems and find ways to solve them
- Replace unhelpful thinking with constructive and practical ways to lower levels of fear, worry, and anxiety
The book bundle includes:
- audio recording of each chapter’
- companion Study Guide & Personal Application Workbook
- Four bonus guides
Click here for details and to order