Acceptance is the act of letting go of fighting reality. It is accepting the world as it is completely from deep within. When you are feeling miserable, acceptance is the only way out.

Pain, sadness and unhappiness are normal human emotions and nature’s way of signaling that something is wrong or something needs to be done. If you put your hand on a hot stove, the pain causes you to move your hand. Grief causes us to value our connections and the people we’re close to. Fear makes us avoid dangerous situations. And anger motivates us to assert ourselves and overcome obstacles.

Feelings of anger and sadness turn to fury, depression and misery when we refuse to accept the painful events that have caused them. When we cling to getting what we want, instead of accepting what we have, we turn our pain into suffering

I have a friend who wants success in her career. She’s smart, capable, resourceful and good at her job. She also is the primary caretaker for her family. Each time she begins to gain career success, her family obligations interfere. A sick child will keep her from following through on an important project. She will miss an important call because she needs to be home in the evening. She doesn’t accept the limitations caring for her family places on her career and, as a result, doesn’t communicate to co-workers and supervisors. Their expectations of her are high and she is continually disappointing them. After tension and dissatisfaction on both sides she ultimately leaves jobs and has to start over again. Sometimes she complains and blames her problems on bad luck and people who are ‘out to get her’. At other times she internalizes her work problems and feels inadequate and incompetent. She is often miserable.

My friend's situation is not ideal. Her desire for a successful career is in conflict with her responsibilities to her family. But it’s her inability to accept the current situation that is making her miserable. It is difficult and sometimes painful to balance career and family. Someone is often feeling short changed. However, her inability to accept that she must make some adustments to her career, in order to care for her family, makes her miserable. She makes commitments that she is unable to keep, which lead to disappointment. She then blames or internalizes her negative feelings.

If there is an area of your life in which you are fighting reality, focus on accepting the situation as it is. Try to let go of how things ‘should be’ or how you want them to be and accept, from deep down, how they are.

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