Accepting Acceptance


“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today” starts a story in the back of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. While written to those who admitted they have a problem with alcohol, the principle applies regardless of who we are or where we come from, what we struggle with, and how we see ourselves or how others see us.

First, a definition is in order for the word acceptance. Webster’s defines it this way: “the act of accepting something or someone”. While that definition can certainly get us started in this discussion, I think another way to say it is acceptance is giving up our perceived right to argue with reality.

It’s kind of like finding your friend yelling at a brick wall imploring it to apologize for being in the way. Good luck. You’d have a better chance of swimming to Jupiter. Exactly. Dumb analogy because yelling at a brick wall imploring it to apologize is asinine. That’s the whole point. In this example, the friend is so far from acceptance that they are engaging in ridiculous behavior.

This idea of giving up our right to argue with reality is a dangerous thing to our ego. If we give up that right, then we are giving up our need to control. We are giving up our right to be right. We are relinquishing control albeit control we never really had in the first place.

So, if one decided that they should investigate this idea of embracing acceptance of what is and not what we want, think or hope things should be, how would they go about doing that? Practice. Practice. Practice.

The first step in practice can very easily just be accepting that we don’t want to accept what we need to accept about our current reality. That is the hardest part. Why? Because at the end of the day, it’s not fair that we have to do so. Why can’t things just work out like they should? Why do we have to change our attitude and mindset when clearly what is bothering us makes sense to be bothered by and try to change or control?

The secret sauce is a very simple phrase. You may have heard it. “It is what it is” is the phrase. It (reality) is (current state) what (type of state) it (reality) is (current state). Another way of saying it is, life does its own thing without our permission and really doesn’t care one way or the other if we agree or disagree with the course it has taken.

Now ‘lest I leave you in a depressed state from what you have read to this point: you only have to accept what you want to accept. No one can make us accept anything. That is a choice you get to make. So, you can accept what I am saying now and 5 minutes from now “un-accept” what I said. Then 10 minutes later, reconsider that your unacceptance is unacceptable and choose to re-accept life as it is in that very moment for we only have the present moment. So, go forth, accept what you like and leave the rest as the saying goes. One thing for sure is we can both accept that this article has come to an end. If you want it to. You can accept it or not.

Chris Newcomb

Chris Newcomb

VPRSN Coordinator

Chris Newcomb, M.Div., PRS, CPMS, CWF, CSSF is the VPRSN Coordinator on behalf of Mental Health America of Virginia. He holds a Bachelor in Psychology from Radford University and a Master of Divinity from Duke University. In his spare time, he is a singer/songwriter who loves to write new songs, practices Krav Maga, and enjoys time with family and friends.


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