Practice acceptance of mental health challenges and life problems–stress, jobs, relationships, school, money…the list is long and in our faces day and night, night and day. This is a terrible list. Why would anyone want to accept these things? Accepting them actually reduces their hold on you. As counterintuitive as it may seem, accepting struggles helps you distance yourself from them.
5 Reasons to Practice Acceptance for Your Mental Health & Wellbeing
In the quality of our mental health, wellbeing, and lives in general, acceptance has a special meaning and effectiveness. These five acceptance-related truths both explain what it is and why embracing it is a useful skill.
Embrace acceptance because…
1. It’s okay to accept. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up or giving in, so you’re not waving a white flag to surrender in defeat. When you accept something like anxiety you acknowledge that yes, it exists, but it doesn’t have to be the center of your life.
2. You create boundaries. It may seem like accepting anxiety might make it bigger and allow it to run rampant (many of us resist and struggle to prevent our struggles from doing just that). However, when you acknowledge something, you also begin to set limits. You no longer have to give it your nearly undivided attention, which means that you’re free to turn your attention to other things. You’re anxiety still exists, but you’ve gained more control.
3. You’re free. Accepting the presence of anxiety or any other challenge in your life, you free yourself from the trap that has held you captive for so long. Being consumed by a problem affects your entire being, mind and body. Constantly being present with any struggle creates physical, emotional, and cognitive (thought-based) difficulties, and you’re whole being is surrounded by the problem. Accept that the problem exists to free yourself and feel better.
4. You take charge of your forward progress. Now that you’re not wrapped up in the problem, you can move toward a solution. Acceptance frees you to decide where you want to go next. When your thoughts are stuck fighting a problem, they’re tied up and can’t make plans to move forward. When you stop struggling with what you don’t want, you can shift your attention to what you do want.
5. Your freedom and progress start now. With acceptance, you can begin creating and living your quality life now. By simply letting go of the fight against your problem(s), you release yourself. The fight is over. Yes, the problem still exists, and you’ll do things to work on that. It will be easier to do that when you’re not locked in a battle but instead are placing your energy into movement. It means too that you can be mindful of the moment you’re in, paying attention to what you’re doing and who you’re with rather than to struggles.
Acceptance: Seeing is Believing
I recently had the privilege of speaking a a group of middle-schoolers about anxiety, particularly performance anxiety and public speaking anxiety. One of the things we discussed was acceptance. To demonstrate, I let them play with Play Doh. Check out the video under the image to see Play Doh in action for acceptance.