What is acceptance?
Derived from the same root in Latin as 'acquiescence', acceptance is a related word which means being able to handle reality. Sometimes, it may be that you are faced with some personal problem which seems to be a much bigger issue than it is. By accepting it for what it truly is, it becomes possible to move on, psychologically speaking. In other words, acceptance is not merely putting up with things, or consenting to them, but managing them. As such, it can be much more proactive than you might think. Crucially, acceptance of a situation usually means dealing with a negative thought or condition without battling with it. That said, there are various forms of acceptance which come into play in different situations.
What are the main types of acceptance?
Self-acceptance is one of the main types that psychologists focus on. This is because it helps people who are unhappy with themselves or their situation to acknowledge their position and then make strategies to move on. Social acceptance is another important one whereby a social group will accept a newcomer despite any perceived differences. Then there is psycho-spiritual acceptance. This, itself, comes in various forms and might include the acceptance of certain truths, such as the inevitability of bodily death, for example. One of the teachings of Buddha is that all life is suffering, something that must be accepted.
How can acceptance help with mental well-being?
Let's look at something that typically comes up when an individual is trying to improve their mental well-being by meditating or focussing on positivity, for example. Newcomers to such practices often try to banish thoughts that come into their head when they are trying to relax. Alternatively, they might bottle up negativity emotions because they think they should only allow positivity to reign. In such cases, it can lead to the long-term detriment of mental health. Instead, accepting thoughts and negative emotions is likely to be more effective. Acceptance of them is essential, really, since bottling them up does not truly deal with them.
Acceptance and moving on
Accepting something means you have taken your first step on the road to moving on from it. Before we accept something in the psychological sense, it is still controlling us to some extent.
How to embrace acceptance
Like other aspects of psychological well-being, acceptance is something to practice every day. By accepting relatively modest things, you will get better at it and consequently able to accept harder truths down the line. Remember that accepting something does not mean affirming it or liking it. It is nothing more than the recognition of truth. Finally, accepting something does not mean you are limited by it – you can still change things about yourself, after all.