So lets break this down a little.  What is acceptance?  At first glance I assumed that it was being OK with whatever is going on.  This is how I convinced myself I didn’t need to work on acceptance in the first place.  I have this ability to convince myself that I am OK with whatever circumstances are presenting themselves and move on.  This isn’t acceptance, this is a passive attempt to avoid something that I may or may not accept.  As I currently see it, in order to accept something you do not have to be “OK” with it.  Accepting something is acknowledging it’s presence, examining how it affects you, and determining what you will do about it.

Acknowledging the presence of a problem, an obstacle, a difficult individual, or whatever, sounds pretty easy. The problem is that often times we push them aside, hide them and pretend they don’t exist, because if we accept that they exist this may require some type of action on our part.  This can cause anxiety, panic or a number of problems if you don’t have a game plan.  So now that you accept that this thing exists, lets move on to the next step.

How does it affect you?  Often times we become very concerned with matters that don’t even impact us in any way.  This may sound a little self centered, but if it does not have an impact on you, why bother?  Many people get stuck here and end up obsessing over problems, obstacles, people, etc.  This is the stage in which we experience the racing thoughts, dread, fear, and all other types of irrational thinking.  As Bob Newhart stated so many years ago playing a therapist on SNL, “Stop it.  Just stop it!”  So if all you are experiencing at this point is racing thoughts and anxiety, you might look here, otherwise determining how else this situation, person etc. will ultimately affect you is pretty important for the next step.

Make a plan and stick to it.  How are you going to deal with this problem, when are you going to deal with it, and what is the cost?  By making a plan, writing it down, and setting a time frame you are well on your way to accepting whatever it is that is bothering you and moving past it.  Once you put your plan in to action (preferably by your self imposed deadline) you can begin to welcome the reassurance that comes with getting things done and paying attention to the things in life that actually make you happier and keep you feeling fulfilled.

So the next time you are asked to accept something, or if you have already accepted something, put it to the test.  Don’t pretend that you have and push it deeper in to the messy closet you call your mind.  Acknowledge that it exists, figure out just how it affects you and make a plan to take care of it.  Then you can be assured to move on and turn your focus to the things that matter most.