Sad girl in bed, backlit scene.


Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.

~J.K. Rowling


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

~Lao Tzu


It is what it is.

As we journey through our lives, certain people, events, and conditions will come and go, sometimes when we really don’t want them to. Some of these we will have influence over, and some we won’t.

Some of these things are relatively minor. Catching a cold, having a fender bender, having a game rained out—these are things most of us can roll with without too much agita. But each of us, at some time or another, will also face the big things: divorce, losing a job, death. These things are harder to accept quickly, nor should we try to.

In any case, a better sense of how we handle adversity can take away some of the stress associated with our negative responses to those events, big or small.

Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.” In this case, the enemy is both the undesirable event and our own unpleasant reaction to it. We can examine the specifics of the bad things that come up in our lives and how we react to them.

When bad things happen, there are sometimes actions we can take to prevent them or mitigate their consequences. In other cases there may have been something we could have done in the past, but that opportunity no longer exists. There are also cases where there wasn’t anything we could have done and nothing we can do now.

The second two categories can be the hardest—when there’s nothing we can do about a situation. In these cases we have to ultimately accept the event and its consequences. This doesn’t mean we can’t be sad or angry, but an acceptance of an event can help lessen those emotions or help us to understand them, and that can eventually provide us with some peace.

We can also identify the emotions we have. Do they include anger? Sadness? Frustration? Maybe it’s a combination of these. We can also examine the way in which those emotions came about. Are we mad at someone or at something someone did? Are we sad because we miss someone? Understanding our feelings and where they come from can go a long way toward helping us deal with them.

One important thing to remember is that accepting something doesn’t mean we are OK with it or don’t feel bad about it. It only means we acknowledge it and acknowledge that, in some cases, there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to learn to be open to the consequences and what that will mean to the way we think, act, and feel.

Ultimately, acceptance is an acknowledgement of reality. When we stop fighting with reality, we can begin to move with the natural flow of our lives again. We can move from dissonance to consonance.

We might not like it, but we can’t deny it.


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