I’ve been thinking a lot about acceptance lately. In the Elizabeth Kuebler Ross grief model, acceptance is the final step (the other four are denial, anger, bargaining and depression.) And make no mistake, we are all grieving right now.
The kind of acceptance I’m working on has more to do with radical acceptance, a concept that rests on the idea that we need to let go of the illusion of control and instead notice and accept things as they are right now, without judgment. A tall order during these challenging times, but I find that the more I wish things were different and the more I resent this (hopefully temporary) new normal, the worse I feel.
It’s not easy to do. More than anything, I want my old life back. But as we get deeper and deeper into this mess, and as it’s becoming pretty obvious that life may never return to a pre-COVID normal, it’s time to find more sustainable ways of dealing with what is.
I like the Longfellow quote because it perfectly illustrates the idea of acceptance. After all, even in a time when everything seems to be debatable, nobody is going to argue that we can change the weather!
The basic steps of radical acceptance
- “It should not be this way.” Observe that you are fighting reality.
- “This is what happened.” Remind yourself that you cannot change reality.
- “This is how things happened.” Acknowledge that there were events and factors that lead to this outcome. Think about how others are also affected by it.
- Accept yourself as you are and the feelings you have.
- Practice opposite action by listing how you would act if you already accepted these facts. Now engage in those behaviors you listed.
- Allow yourself to truly feel your emotions and attend to those body sensations.
- Acknowledge that life goes on and it is still worth living even with the current situation.
- If you find yourself still resisting acceptance, make a pros and cons list of what would happen if you continue to stay in these beliefs.