The Power of Acceptance: How To Change Your Circumstances By Embracing Them10 min read

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There is a popular story in the Bible about a man called Job that perfectly illustrates the need and power of acceptance in our daily lives: Job was a wealthy and righteous man who experienced a series of devastating trials. These trials included the loss of his wealth, health, and children. That is pretty much all we pray for, right?

As a human with feelings, Job expressed his pain and frustration, questioning why he was suffering despite his righteousness – despite putting in his best to ensure everything goes right in his life. He even engaged in a lengthened dialogue with his friends, contemplating the possible explanations for his suffering. And, as with many suffering in the world, there really was no good reason for it (at least, none that the human mind could make sense of).

However, in the later chapters of the Book of Job, God finally speaks up, revealing that it was not for Job to understand the reason for the suffering but rather endure it (while doing what is right). To which Job responded, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

After this complete acceptance of the overwhelming complexity and randomness of life – the acceptance that things don’t always go as we expect or desire – he was able to move on with his life, and even live a much abundant and happier life.

In life, pain – disappointments, lack, loss, etcetera – are inevitable. And, the sooner we learn acceptance, the better for us: 

What Is Acceptance? 

Acceptance is a conscious, nonjudgmental, and open-hearted embrace of the impermanence of life – a willingness to face challenges directly, and an active choice to engage with the world without avoidance or attachment.

Acceptance is the embrace of “fait accompli” – the acknowledgement that we can not do anything about what has already transpired, but can only move forward from it. For example, when faced with the loss of a loved one, acceptance is the recognition that we cannot bring them back, but we can honour their memory and find a way to live our lives in a way that pays tribute to their legacy.

Acceptance isn’t just tolerating or resigning to life’s challenges. It isn’t no longer caring about what happens – it is not the same as saying, “It is what it is” or “This is just how things are”. It doesn’t mean to stick with a bad situation or let things fall apart. Rather, it is about recognizing where you are, and not getting stuck in negative thoughts and emotions about your experiences. But rather looking forward with an understanding of your current reality. It is thinking about how to get another bowl of soup rather than crying over the spilt one.

Just like Job, feeling your feelings is okay – it’s a natural response. Acknowledging it and letting it flow is part of acceptance. Acceptance is simply not holding on to the pain.

What is the importance/benefit of acceptance?

When we are able to practice acceptance of ourselves, others, and the reality we live in despite the flaws and quirks, then we are said to be practising radical acceptance. Practising acceptance is important because it is only when we acknowledge the facts (rather than deny them) that we can really improve ourselves, our relationship with others, and the condition we find ourselves. 

Embracing radical acceptance is a powerful practice that can profoundly transform your life, bringing about a multitude of benefits in mental health, personal growth, and overall wellness, including the following:

  • Improved pain tolerance and reduced pain.
  • More satisfaction with relationships.
  • Enhanced sense of job control.
  • Greater emotional regulation.
  • Increased positive actions.
  • Greater sense of peace.
  • Heightened compassion.
  • Increased reasonableness.
  • Decreased blame toward others.
  • Improved psychological well-being.
  • Encouragement to be your authentic self.
  • Diminished depression and pain-related anxiety

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.”

George Orwell

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The transformational power of acceptance: How acceptance leads to growth and improvement

Contrary to the belief that acceptance is surrendering, acceptance is embracing reality. And, when we face reality – be it ourselves, others, circumstances, or the universe – we can better appreciate, understand, make peace with, and in some cases, transform it.

Carl Rogers famously said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” And there is profound truth in that statement, even beyond personal growth. 

Let’s assume you struggle with low self-esteem. You may often find yourself berating yourself with thoughts like, “I’m so awkward,” “I’m such a loser,” or “I’m not good enough.” This harsh self-criticism implies that given the chance, you would cut off or disown those parts of yourself. Or worse, that you have already surrendered and are avoiding taking any action. Such ways of thinking breed emotional tension – shame, regret, spite, and so on. But that is not true acceptance.

Acceptance simply means acknowledging those qualities as parts of your personality, without condoning or condemning them, without trying to disassociate from them. This creates an emotionally safe space for you to fully explore your thoughts and behaviours without tension – without fear, shame, anger, and the like. As a result, you gain true self-understanding. In this case, you begin to recognise where your lack of confidence stems from.

Moreover, self-acceptance reduces your resistance to positive change. When you aren’t fighting, ignoring, or avoiding your flaws, you can make gradual improvements unencumbered.  

For instance, through acceptance, you may realise your lack of confidence isn’t an inherently negative trait, but simply one aspect of your innate tendencies – perhaps born from a fear of harsh judgment by others. This awareness allows you to objectively identify ways to reduce or move past that fear. Maybe it will spur you to work on your appearance, build true competence, and challenge those negative thoughts whenever they arise. 

This same principle applies to accepting others, circumstances, and even physical reality.

Here is a concise general framework for transforming reality through acceptance:

  1. Acknowledge reality without judgment.
  2. Openly explore to gain a better understanding.
  3. Use understanding to make gradual improvements/changes.

Over time, acceptance paradoxically enables you to reshape your reality through compassion and committed effort, rather than harsh self-judgment and avoidance. It also promotes authenticity – you can be yourself while simultaneously evolving. And even when efforts don’t drastically alter circumstances, acceptance still sustains an underlying sense of peace and calm. All of this enhances your overall well-being and happiness. That is the power of acceptance. 

How do you develop acceptance in life?

Research has shown that there are key concepts and steps that can help us develop and practice radical acceptance. Here are some of the most important ones: 

Embrace Nonattachment

Nonattachment means not overly clinging to things, especially material possessions, and recognizing that everything is impermanent. It’s realizing that your happiness isn’t tied to people, circumstances, or things. 

For instance, if your favourite mug breaks, don’t let it ruin your day. It’s just a mug, after all. Accept that it has broken and that you may need to get a replacement.

Embrace Non-avoidance

Non-avoidance is about confronting uncomfortable situations or truths in your life rather than avoiding them.

Instead of avoiding a difficult conversation (or denying there is a problem or unmet need), accept/acknowledge and face it head-on. If you’re unhappy at work or in your relationship, address the issues with your boss or partner rather than hoping they’ll magically disappear.

Cultivate Nonjudgment

Nonjudgment refers to refraining from evaluating something as good or bad, right or wrong. It involves keeping an open mind and not hastily passing judgment on people or situations.

For instance, when you see someone acting aggressively, reserve judgment – don’t label them evil. Maybe they’re having a bad day or going through something you’re unaware of. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go hang out with them, but you should acknowledge that even that aggression is temporary. Same too with the person you see acting all nice.

Develop Tolerance

Tolerance means allowing challenging experiences, whether physical, emotional, or mental, to take place without resisting or denying them. It’s about enduring difficulties without trying to push them away.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic, don’t let frustration take over. Instead, find something that will help you endure the delay. Perhaps, you can listen to music or a podcast. If there is objectively nothing you can do about the circumstances, tolerance is the wise choice.

Choose Willingness

Willingness is the conscious choice to be open to experiences and not avoid or judge them. It’s about embracing life with an accepting attitude. As Fredriche Nitchze would say, you’ve got to develop “Amor Fati” (i.e. Love of Fate)

Decide to be open to new experiences; even if that also means opening yourself up to uncertainties. If you’ve never tried a particular cuisine, be willing to give it a shot instead of instantly saying no. If you’ve never done something before or visited a place before, don’t instantly rule it off. Rather, engage your curiosity and try out new things. This often leads to learning and growth and sometimes creates opportunities.

Recognize Nonacceptance Mechanisms

Nonacceptance mechanisms are cognitive and emotional processes we engage in to avoid facing difficult things. These mostly happen unconsciously and it takes self-awareness to notice them:

For example, if you are diagnosed with a serious health condition or discover that your partner has been unfaithful, it is in your best interest to accept the reality of the situation, rather than ignoring, dismissing, or trying to convince yourself that the problem does not exist.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the environment around you, with a calm and non-critical attitude. 

If you’re feeling tired or anxious, accept that and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down. Then, consider whether there’s anything you can do to address the source of your fatigue or anxiety. If not, simply focus on staying present in the moment and participating in the meeting to the best of your ability.

Seek Support

If you’re struggling with acceptance, consider seeking help from a therapist or support group. Acknowledge that seeking support is a step toward accepting your challenges.

Cultivate Patience

Understand that becoming a master of acceptance takes time. It’s like learning a new skill. Be patient with yourself as you develop these abilities.

Practice Gratitude

Even on a tough day, practice finding something to be grateful for. This could be as simple as appreciating a kind gesture or a moment of peace amidst chaos.

Remember, acceptance is about making these steps a part of your everyday life. With practice, you’ll find it easier to navigate the gap between your expectations and reality.

Conclusion: Embrace acceptance and move forward.

The crucial wisdom is learning to accept things as they are, even if we don’t understand them, and to forge ahead. And, it is not denying our issues or uncertainties, but rather acknowledging them and working through them as best we can. 


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Dick David is a freelance SEO content writer and editor with over 7 years of experience in content writing, digital marketing, and sales. He is the founder of Pawns Digital Agency. Throughout his career, he has authored over 4 books, published hundreds of SEO articles attracting thousands of monthly visitors, ghostwritten numerous works, and edited hundreds of content pieces across various industries. Currently, he works with Robert Taylor Media and has also worked with Tobi Digitals and Branditechture Design Agency, among others.

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