How to Let Go and Find Acceptance
January 30, 2014
By Kelly Stuart
5 Natural Ways to Great Skin in Time for the Festive Season - Photo by Anton Belovodchenko
Some things in life can be difficult to accept. Sometimes the reality can seem more a lie than the expectation – the thing you had counted on, dreamed of, had your hopes pinned on.

Or you might be faced with devastating events that are out of your control and the idea of acceptance can seem near impossible. If an event or set of circumstances unfolds far differently than what you had envisioned, you may struggle to adjust to the actuality of your life.

I recently had such an experience. The outcome of something I had pinned my hopes on was not the one I had anticipated. The one I had anticipated was going to signal the beginning of a new, brighter future (there have been some fairly rocky waters to sail in the last couple of years). I felt there must have been a mistake. Someone messed up.

My inability to accept this different turn of events has caused me to feel much anguish. I lost optimism for other areas of my life as well; it was like a set-back to everything. In short, my "unacceptance" was a drain on my vitality and prevented me moving forwards in all sorts of ways.

The stress and anxiety generated by the emotional battle against what is out of your control can wreak havoc with your physical health. Stress hormones can suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness; or you may use unhealthy behavioural coping strategies, such as drinking or smoking.

Deepak Chopra said, "Nothing brings down walls as surely as acceptance". The walls of resistance holding you back from moving forward can be torn down when you are able to welcome the realities you have been handed. Negative change and loss are inevitable. Acceptance plays a pivotal role in coping.

So with this in mind, I set out to explore what acceptance means, and how to find it!

My Experience Finding Acceptance

Here is what I found:
  • Accepting does not mean not feeling pain. You need to experience and express your feelings in order to physically release them and begin healing.
  • Holding on to past attachments prevents you from finding new sources of nurturance and support.
  • Forgiveness is about your own inner healing. Forgiving creates powerful emotional and physical changes that compete with the negative, cold emotional state of "unforgiveness".
  • It is possible to reclaim the momentum again for yourself – you can stop waiting for an external motive to move on.
  • When you fight something, you make it stronger.
When you are deeply mired in a ditch of unacceptance, you may need some professional assistance to climb your way out. There is a large body of empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of a therapy with the acronym ACT in creating behaviour change. It stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

One of its core messages is to accept what is out of your personal control and commit to action that improves and enriches your life. It has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment for depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse (all of which can be by-products of non-acceptance).

According to the ACT Mindfully website, ACT works by teaching psychological skills that enable you to deal with painful thoughts and feelings in such a way that they have much less influence and impact on you, and help clarify what is truly meaningful to you.

Learning acceptance is a skill well worth cultivating. In my story, the key was in not relinquishing hope. I fanned the little flame of hope that I found was still there, until I realised my different reality, my real one, was not an inferior one after all. As will you!

"Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say 'so what?' That's one of my favourite things to say. So what." - Andy Warhol (1977)

Kelly Stuart has a BHSc in nutritional medicine and a particular interest in allergies and mental health. Kelly is the mother of two sons, aged 9 and 10, and it was her experience with her children, their eczema and other allergies that led her to pursue studies in nutritional medicine.
"The stress and anxiety generated by the emotional battle against what is out of your control can wreak havoc with your physical health. Stress hormones can suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness."