5 Keys to Accepting What You Can’t Change
“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” – William James
By Joseph Wilner, licensed Therapist
Accepting what we don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life. I’m all for taking action and changing what we can, but inevitably there will be people, situations, and events we don’t like and that we aren’t able to change.
Do you find yourself trying to change things you have no control over?
If so, you probably find it difficult to be satisfied and content with life. If we can’t change a situation or an outcome our best option is to learn how to accept it and deal with it.
Acceptance has many benefits:
•A more positive attitude
•Less worry and stress
•Less energy drained from trying to figure things out
•Ability to embrace change
•Greater appreciation and gratitude
•A more compassionate perspective
Acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. We can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond our control. Here are a few tips to living with greater acceptance so you can have more joy and peace of mind.
1. Let go of the past
We all have baggage that we carry from our past, and this baggage gets heavier the longer we hold onto it. Many people have a hard time letting go of past. We carry a mental reminder of our mistakes and losses with us everywhere we go, not realizing how much they steal from our present joy and contentment. We can’t change the past. What happened in your past happened, so our only hope is to learn how to accept our past and move forward.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis
2. Learn coping skills
At one point or another life will present us with an unexpected turn of events. It may be a difficult loss or a failure of epic proportions that we aren’t prepared to deal with. Sometimes these events are beyond our current ability to cope. So, part of the acceptance process is learning new ways to cope with a crisis. Keep your emotions in check so you can make a more conscious decision about how to deal with a difficult situation.
3. Make it meaningful
Sometimes the “worst” thing that happens to us ends up being the most fundamental part of our personal growth. It is easier to accept something when we explore the opportunities and possibilities that come out of it. What can you learn from your difficulty? How has your difficulty made you a stronger person?
“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl
4. Expect less
We live in a world that tells us to want more, be more, and do more. This isn’t always a negative message, but it often gets in the way of our life-satisfaction. When something doesn’t meet our expectations we are disappointed and angry. Life can appear purposeless, unfair, and ruthless if our expectations are unrealistic. So, instead of expecting something to happen, or expecting a person to act a certain way, try to focus on accepting and creating. Focus on what you want to create instead of what you expect to happen. Creation is motivating, expectation is demanding.
5. Set new goals
When we run into failure or setbacks it can feel like we are stuck with nowhere to turn. Life will take unexpected turns and when this happens our trajectory might have to change as well. There is a point where it is in our best interest to move on and let go of what we want. If something doesn’t work the way we planned, don’t get caught up in the outcome. Instead of doing the same thing and expecting different results, accept things aren’t working the way you planned and do something different.
You may not be able change what you’re going through right now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life. You can adapt and adjust to your present circumstances.
Stop avoiding difficult issues and only focusing on what you can’t change. Focus on what you can do about the situation, and if you can’t change something it’s time to accept this reality.
What do you need to accept so you can be happier and more fulfilled?