Friday, September 3, 2010

A Week of Virtues - Day 5 - Acceptance

Acceptance:  acknowledging reality exactly as it is without attempting to change it to fit our needs or desires

"Accepting does not necessarily mean 'liking,' 'enjoying,' or 'condoning.' I can accept what is—and be determined to evolve from there. It is not acceptance but denial that leaves me stuck."   ~ Nathaniel Branden, American psychologist

I find that when coming to accept something, what I am really doing is grieving the loss of some false belief of mine.  Acceptance is the fifth stage of grieving.  I find that I must go through the first four stages before I reach acceptance of a situation, person, or truth in my life.  I will use alcoholism as an example.

*  My false belief is that I am a normal drinker.

Stage 1 - Denial
I'm not an alcoholic.  I don't have a problem.  I'm fine.  There's nothing abnormal about me.

Stage 2 - Anger
Why me?  I don't deserve this!  I am pissed off that I am an alcoholic!  It's not fair!

Stage 3 - Bargaining
Please, God, let me be able to drink like a normal person.  I'll do anything if you just fix me so I can drink and be ok.

Stage 4 - Depression
Poor me!  I am an alcoholic.  My life is ruined.  I'll never have any fun again.  Why do these things always happen to me?  I am a terrible person.

Stage 5 - Acceptance
I am an alcoholic and that is ok.  I have a disease.  I can admit that I have it, not be angry about it, not feel sorry for myself about it, but can realize the reality of it and live my life accordingly. 

More on my story of acceptance can be found here.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.  ~  Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous 
Acceptance is the path to serenity for me.  Practicing acceptance doesn't mean that I have to accept "unacceptable behavior," such as any type of abuse from others.  While I can't change them, I can remove myself from them and their destructive behaviors.  In this way I am accepting the reality of the way they are (i.e., abusive, unhealthy, etc.) and choosing not to be a part of it.  In practicing acceptance, I must always keep in mind what I can and cannot change, which is why the Serenity Prayer is so powerful in my recovery today.
God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.


  1. Oh marie I really feel this post! I love the description of Acceptance, I know that feeling well and I have been set free through a true understanding of acceptance as they show me how to live it out in this program! Like you!!!

    We are kindred spirits!

  2. Encircling ( and NOT running away! )
    A friend of Bill's used to say " I accept
    embrace and celebrate you." until we can say it for ourselves and believe it.
    The suggestion involved the mirror and eye contact! use it as a Mantra, slogan
    until no squirming occurs!

  3. Marie, this is a great post. Thanks for putting alcoholic thinking in terms of the stages of grief. Very interesting.


Thank you for sharing!