Acceptance of reality
On a daily basis, we have to choose to accept so many things… what others are giving us, what life is giving us, and what we are able to do with ourselves. On good days, all our expectations are being met. Bad days are when we don’t get what we expected. The car breaks down, there’s trouble at work, we fail at tests, friends desert us, and we lost money. Now there’s a change, a loss, and it throws us off balance.
While every person has these experiences, the codependent has the most painful type of loss. These are the rejections, betrayals and pains that we experience at the hands of the people we care for.
The people in our lives may have an excuse for their behavior. They could be an addict, or physically sick. They could have compulsions or other mental issues. Perhaps they are a difficult personality type. Whatever the case, we suffer.
The suffering is compounded by the loss of dreams and hopes. When we held our baby in our arms, we envisioned a lifetime of happiness and success, not addiction and strife. When we married, we thought our spouses could be trusted with our hearts. Even friendships evolve in stages of hope and closeness. So a change in the love that we thought we had is not only felt in real life, but also in the part of our minds that dreamed. And we held onto these dreams way past their expiration date.
The only way out of the pain, is through it. Yes, it is painful to face and accept what is really going on. We have done so much to avoid the reality. We kept busy with other people’s problems. We desperately tried to distract ourselves. But for real change to take place, this is a necessary step. You can only replace old dreams with new ones when you have accepted that the old dreams are no longer alive.
Acceptance is not…
… Accepting abuse
… being resigned to the way things are
… pretending that everything bad will magically disappear
… making excuses for the abuse and the abuser
… trying your best to change BEFORE you have loved yourself for what you are.
Acceptance is the ultimate expression of love. It is one of the 5 “A”‘s of love. And not loving ourselves is at the heart of co-dependency. When we think we are not enough, we turn to every other human on earth to make us feel better.
How is possible to esteem yourself, if you don’t accept that all you’ve done and said in your life was meant to be said and done that way?
All that you’ve done, was done out of your innocence, not out of any bad intentions. You did the best with what you had, and with what you knew. But as Tara Brach points out, we worry so much about what we’ve done, and what we will do wrong next, that we start to feel unworthy.
That growing feeling of unworthiness causes us to withdraw from others in our reality, from the feeling of belonging in life, in this world. Our blaming ourselves for our deficiencies may show up as an extreme drive for money or success. It may even show up as pride. But in the end, all the looking down on others does not help. We are still hollow and undeserving, we feel.
This feeling of not being accepted is worse in Western culture, where we grow up without extended family and connections. But as cities and nuclear families develop in even the smallest of countries, the feeling of alienation is spreading.
What Acceptance Is
Acceptance has two parts. First: seeing with complete clear insight what is happening inside ourselves. Every feeling is accepted. Whether it is fear, desire, anger, guilt, jealousy… we don’t deny it. This process could be compared to “mindfulness”. Whatever the emotion is, we recognize it, and don’t pull away from it, or bury it.
The second part of acceptance is to be kind to ourselves. It helps to imagine that the emotion is coming from a child who is standing in front of us. How would you act with a crying toddler, a distraught middle schooler, or a young mom on the verge of suicide? You would be kind. You might not even talk, as you demonstrate that you are creating a space for them as you hold them in your arms. You would be careful not to be judgemental or angry with them. Then why are you like that when the child is yourself, when you are feeling strong emotions?
Having compassion ensures our insights don’t overtake us to the point where we get angry at ourselves for what we are feeling.
And seeing clearly makes sure that our kindness for ourselves does not turn into self-pity and blaming others. Instead, we take ownership of our feelings. We see what thoughts and beliefs cause us to have that emotion.
How do we begin on the road to acceptance? The good news is that you have not lost the fitra that you have been born with. We are born with that curiosity, an urge to know. And we will always have a heart that wants to care. Love lives deep within, and we just need to call it forth, using our mind’s eye to see ourselves clearly.
Jehan founded this magazine and site to help Muslim women and men learn to stay away from abusers, to strengthen their relationship with Allah SWT and to have a better healthier relationship with themselves.