What do I mean by acceptance equals freedom? Let me start by giving you an example of not accepting something…
Kim and Tom have been married for over ten years. Kim complains that Tom is incredibly untidy, actually she thinks their study looks like a ‘pig sty’. Any time Kim walks past the study, and catches sight of the ‘mess’, she feels irritated. If Kim is having a ‘good day’, her irritation is relatively minor, but if she’s having a’ bad day’, oh boy! does she feel disgusted and judgemental! Deep down Kim thinks that Tom is inconsiderate, and interprets his behavior to mean that he doesn’t really love her; after all if he did, he would be willing to change his habits.
Tom can’t stand being ‘told what to do’. No way is he going to let Kim ‘dictate’ to him, how he should behave; he pays the bills, he can ‘have it anyway he damn well pleases!’ Tom complains to his friends, that Kim wants to ‘control him’. Deep down Tom doesn’t think being tidy is a ‘big deal’, anyway, if Kim really loved him she wouldn’t care about his behavior!
This pattern is always playing itself out in Kim and Tom’s relationship because they both get something out of it. What on earth can they be getting out of that, you may ask! There’s one thing that is really important to us, and that is our sense of ‘being right’: we just love to be right!
Kim thinks she’s right, and Tom thinks he’s right! Both of them can find all sorts of ways to justify their own behavior and invalidate each other, but at the same time it is costing them love and connection in their relationship. (It’s usually only when things become completely unworkable, like a marriage breakdown, that people start to look at doing things differently).
The key to breaking the cycle is acceptance. Kim and Tom may hate each others habits, but by accepting that right now, their behavior is that way, there will be a space for them both to create something new. Space to create a ‘win/win’ situation for instance, rather than a win/lose situation or a lose/lose!
When we can’t accept something, or someone, we are making ourselves judge and jury: but who are we really to judge? We are no better or worse than anyone else, we are equal. Being ‘superior’ may give our ego something, but it doesn’t really make us happy.
If you can accept something, or someone, what will be available is a feeling of peace. Acceptance is not about ‘condoning’ something; you don’t have to like it or agree with it, but you can let go of the ‘struggle’. There are human beings who have been able to accept all kinds of terrible things: rape, abuse, even murder. When you can accept things the way they are, right now, rather than fight against them, you give yourself the gift of freedom.
When Nelson Mandela accepted the fact that he was in prison he became free! It didn’t alter his circumstances, but it altered the way he related to being in prison. Being free is available to any of us at any time, despite our cirumstances.
No matter how much you may want to, you cannot change the past, so instead of resisting it and making yourself unhappy, why not accept it?It’s pointless fighting against something you can’t change. Work with the present moment, that’s all you have. Accept yourself and your life and then choose to do what makes you happy. Acceptance is a gift to yourself. Practice acceptance daily and just notice how much more freedom you have.