Understanding Acceptance

By Madison Gardner

Picture this, you have just been dumped by your significant other. You are experiencing emotions like anger and sadness. A friend who practices mindfulness encourages you to be aware of your feelings and accept the emotions. What does she mean by “accept this anger?” You’re not ready to forgive them for dumping you… STOP! 

You’re right! You might not be ready to forgive that person for what they did, but that’s not what your friend means when she says acceptance. 

Usually, when we hear the word acceptance we believe that it means that we are approving of the situation. Instead, consider this definition of acceptance:

“Acceptance is making room for painful feelings, urges, and sensations, and allowing them to come and go without struggle.”

From the book Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology by Kashdan and Ciarrochi (2013)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have found that they are experiencing new or heightened emotions. So, to accept the feelings you do not have to like the pandemic or even feel okay about it; but rather you just need to recognize and allow the emotions that you are already feeling. You also don’t need to hold on to the feelings or overfocus on them; but rather just acknowledge that they are currently happening. It often helps to remember that no feelings will last forever, and when we allow our feelings to come and go, they actually pass more quickly to make room for new emotions.  

So, why should you practice acceptance? Here are some of the benefits.

Benefits of Acceptance:

  1. Research has shown that acceptance is linked to greater psychological health and can protect us from developing depressive symptoms.
  2. Acceptance allows you to think about the context of what is going on and to respond in the way that you want to respond rather than reacting impulsively.
  3. Acceptance increases your ability to handle your emotions rather than avoid them, which reduces the chance that your emotions will resurface at a later time.
  4. Acceptance leads to healthier relationships because if you don’t allow yourself to have your feelings then you are not able to assert your needs and wants to others.
  5. Acceptance helps you move towards self-compassion and gratitude, which have both been proven to reduce anxiety and improve mood.

Interested in finding out more about mindfulness and acceptance? Check out these Mindfulness Courses – Center for Mindfulness & CBT (mindfulstl.com)

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Madison is co-leading the 6-week online Introduction to Mindfulness Course that is enrolling now. For more information or to register, click here:  Introduction to Mindfulness – Center for Mindfulness & CBT (mindfulstl.com)

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