ABC by Paley – ACCEPTANCE
A like ACCEPTANCE
One of the most accurate definitions of the word acceptance is “coming to terms with something that cannot be changed”. Sounds obvious. But is it really that simple?
The frequently repeated slogan “accept yourself” has become a cliche and instead of encouraging it, it simply irritates. Everyone talks about it, but when it comes down to it, we aren’t sure how to do it or what the acceptance really is.
What’s it like to accept something pleasant?
Close your eyes for a moment and recall some fond memories. Think back to the situation in which you felt safe and joyful. Pay attention to where your thoughts go and how your body reacts. What is it about this memory, what was it about this event that you remember it so well, that you can say “it was something that I fully accepted”. Most likely what was happening there wasn’t perfect. But, for some reason, you fell in love with this place, view, or person.
Now, take a moment to think about the situation that makes you feel upset. Maybe you’re late for the bus? Or maybe your child started crying and kicking loudly while walking while you wanted to spend a nice afternoon with him? Was it easy for you to come to terms with what happened or the opposite?
Confess honestly to yourself – do you accept yourself as you are? Can you stand in front of the mirror and say to your reflection: I’m ok?
Many people find it difficult to accept their emotions, body, appearance, and lifestyle. They believe that accepting something is tantamount to allowing further unwanted behavior and situations. It’s like saying to yourself, “I let go, I won’t change anything.”
Acceptance means our willingness to admit that reality is as it is today. It does not mean, however, that I limit myself to the role of a passive observer who has no influence on anything. I can accept my outburst or that I did not react the way I wanted to without reproaching myself for having failed again or that I was hopeless. At the same time, I can reflect on how to fix my mistake or how to react in a way that I consider appropriate and beneficial next time.
By accepting myself, I agree that I can make mistakes and correct them. I accept my imperfections with care and tenderness, and, at the same time, I can work on them. I take into account the fact that some things I can influence and some not. I pay attention to my thoughts, needs, and feelings, and I wonder if they serve me. If so – great. And if not – I’m looking for ways to help myself and make changes.
Accepting a child
Polite, naughty, obedient, disobedient, distracted after dad, lazy, as painful as a grandmother… We can attach the labels to someone as if we were in the largest warehouse. It’s easy for adults to label their children although they themselves do not feel comfortable having someone do that to them. Identifying a child (but also yourself, your partner, or neighbors) works in a way as blindfolds do – it makes it difficult for us to understand the child and the reasons for his behavior. By acting this way, we distance ourselves from understanding the little person and it’s more difficult for us to accept the child as he is – with all the strengths and weaknesses, as well as advantages and disadvantages. When we make an effort not to look at a child solely through the prism of his talents or features that we consider permanent, we create a space for fully accepting the child, recognizing its individuality and uniqueness.
Like with ourselves, accepting a child does not mean agreeing to its harmful words or behavior. I accept this little man with all his emotions. I give him space to express his feelings, to show what is important to him and what is not. At the same time, I care about my limits – I hold his hand when he beats me, I grab his jacket when he wants to run out into the street, I say “NO” when I don’t agree with something. And when I want my child to act differently I explain it in a language that he understands, which is important to me. I avoid criticizing, comparing, embarrassing, and threatening. Just like us, the child has the right to make mistakes and learn from them. He has the right to be in a worse mood, to have a bad day (just like us!). He has a right to be tired. If we treat him with tenderness and accept him only when he’s satisfied, meets our expectations, and “can behave”, we show him that we accept and love him only when he does something we like. Probably no parents want their child to receive their acceptance and love conditionally and think they’re worth only when they obey, bring high notes from school, and meet other people’s expectations.
When you see your child as separate from you, you make space to accept his plans, dreams, and what kind of person he becomes. This helps to put aside your expectations of the child and the desire to fit him in frames or diagrams. By becoming more attentive to your child’s needs and dreams, you will be able to support him more effectively and guide him through life.