One of the most important milestones on the road to self-actualization, in my view, is the notion of acceptance. Out of the myriad ways one grows and develops in the context of self-actualization, this concept seems to me to be the most life-altering and to have the most impact on our psychological well-being. It is, of course, only one of the many rewards promised by Maslow when undertaking the journey, but it really packs a punch. Why? Because it is the one thing that will free you from the endless and futile scrutinization and rumination about things in life that you simply have no power over.
There are endless situations and occurrences in life that happen which are painful and difficult for us to accept. We resist believing the truth under such circumstances because it is either painful, or it makes us unhappy, or it fails to meet our expectations about one thing or another. We prefer to hold onto the belief that if we try hard enough – if we do this thing or that thing – maybe we can change the situation. Maybe we can find a way to shape and mold our world into what we want it to be. Maybe we can make a thing that happened, unhappen. Or maybe we can make the impossible, possible. But it just doesn’t work that way. There are many possibilities in life, but there are also limits.
It took me a long time to accept that my life as I knew it was changed forever after the passing of my mom; my best friend and soul mate. I struggled with it for years, mostly in silence; by myself. I suffered immense pain, unimaginable longings, anger, disbelief, and bitter disappointment. I could not accept that this person who had given me life, who I looked up to, who was invincible in my eyes, and who I loved with all of by being could so suddenly disappear from the map. And I resisted acceptance for years.
Unfortunately, many of us have trouble with this notion of acceptance. We refuse to believe that we can’t change everything and anything and make it the way we want it to be. But the hard truth is that we can’t. It’s as simple as that. That isn’t to say that there is no room in life for hope. Hope is absolutely nourishing and life-giving under the right circumstances, and it’s a necessity to get through difficult times. The trick is to know when to hope, and when to accept.
If there is one thing I have learned over the last few years of my existence, it is that there are very few things we actually have control over. We can control our own behaviours – and that’s about it. We cannot control others, nor can we control things that happen in the natural process of life. People are born, and people die. People will do as they are compelled to do whether you like it or not. You can’t change them, nor can you stop the normal evolution of life.
This is where the all-important notion of acceptance comes in. We need to be able to identify those things in life that we simply cannot change. This is an important distinction, I think. If there is any possibility that something can be changed, then the courage must be found to take the appropriate steps to make the change. There is a choice to be made, if one wants to make it. However, once we realize that something is absolutely unchangeable, then we must accept.
Based on my own painful experience, I believe that once we have accepted the unchangeable, all of the anguish, all of the resistance, all of the pain, and all of the hopeless ruminations will stop.
Maslow knew that once you understand the difference between what you can change, and what you cannot, and accept that reality, peace of mind will fill all of the empty spaces and you will be on your way to the higher ground.
Maslow : I accept.
- This too shall pass (wingsofencouragement.wordpress.com)
- Accepting Weakness (deepthinkings.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Just Survive, THRIVE! How To Become The Best Possible Version Of Yourself! (galadarling.com)