The Zone - Volume 67
Acceptance. What does it mean? How do we reach it? How do we know when we have reached it? When change happens in our lives, be it perceived as positive or negative, we can either move toward accepting it or get caught in a web of denial, anger, frustration or depression. Even when we believe that we have accepted it, have we truly accepted it?
According to the Stages of Grief, acceptance is often confused with being “OK” with what happened, but that is not the case. The stage of acceptance is about letting go of what was and adapting to what is. Over the past 16 months we have all experienced change and, in many ways, it continues. Some of these changes have been positive and some of them may have caused us grief. Some of the positive changes may have included the birth of a child, the opportunity to spend more time with family by working remotely, saving money, having the time to reflect and realize that you want to change jobs and even a career. The grief may be brought upon by the death of loved ones, loss of a job, isolation and the disruption of our lives. All these changes, positive or negative, whether we choose them or not, cause a disruption that we need to adjust to. In other words, to accept.
To look at this process closer, let us review the Stages of Grief, or as we prefer to refer to them as, the Stages to Acceptance. These stages include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. The first stage is Denial. This stage can be marked by a state of shock, being overwhelmed and perhaps numb. Viewing this stage through the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or isolation, the denial can be understood. However, viewing this stage from the birth of a child, to a promotion at work, or having time to reflect about one’s life, this stage may not immediately be clear. All three of these “positive” changes can cause permanent change in the flow of our lives. As a result, we may experience feelings of shock, being overwhelmed and numb. For example, realizing that your new position may place you at a different level within the company and now you are the boss of your previous colleagues. Suddenly, your work/social network has been immediately altered and a new one needs to be built.
As we move from Denial to Anger, to Bargaining, to Depression and finally to Acceptance we need to make new connections, new meaningful relationships and new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, it is important to listen to our needs and move, change, grow and evolve.
Acceptance takes time and effort. We know when we are heading toward acceptance when we no longer dwell on the change. However, we do not avoid thinking about the change either. We will also know when we can think of the new change without resenting the changes it has brought forward, and we are becoming satisfied with our current life.
Acceptance is not simple.
All changes can be difficult.
OK is not good enough.
Give yourself time.
Realizing that positive changes can also be difficult and that we need to adjust.
Externalize the change.
Things to Limit
Thinking that change does not create discomfort.
Putting pressure on yourself to acceptance too quickly.
Becoming comfortable with being angry.
Quote of the Week
“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”
~ Michael J. Fox
Developing a healthy outlook toward acceptance enhances our outlook and makes life more intentional and fascinating. Denial, anger and depression can overcome us and leave us with nothing to look forward to. Re-igniting the passion toward acceptance for future endeavors and relationships allows us the fortune to enjoy a bountiful life.
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
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