When was the last time you were in a painful situation and thought to yourself, “This is NOT fair” or “It shouldn’t be this way?” Did it help you to feel better to think this way? Probably not. It most likely made you feel your emotions more intensely. If we cling to this way of thinking, our sadness can become more intense and we become more likely to hurt someone with our words or actions. If we hurt someone with our words or actions, we can become angry at ourselves as well, which can add to our emotional pain and may lead to us hurting ourselves in some way (such as cutting ourselves, using food to hurt ourselves by not eating or eating too much, or using alcohol or drugs). It’s our human nature to try to fight what causes us pain. At some level, we think that if we continue to fight a situation, we can make it not true. When we fight reality in this way, though, it actually makes our pain worse and can make our lives worse.
FIGHTING A REALITY DOESN’T MAKE THINGS BETTER…IT JUST ENDS UP CAUSING US MORE PAIN!
Reality Acceptance is when we are able to acknowledge reality as it is and act accordingly
instead of fighting it and trying to turn it into something it’s not. Keep in mind that Acceptance
has nothing to do with Approval. Accepting a reality is being non-judgmental…not saying
something is good or bad or right or wrong…it’s getting to the point of telling ourselves, “It is
what it is” and focusing our emotional energy on how to make ourselves feel better through this reality.
Accepting reality does not mean that you stop using your voice to tell others what you think and what you feel – this is being passive. For example, if your parents make a decision that is painful for you, you can calmly ask them to explain why they are making that decision. You can say something like, “I don’t understand your decision…can you help me to understand this more so I can learn to accept it?” When we can’t do anything about the decision, acceptance can help us move on. It won’t take away all of our pain, however it can help to reduce the amount of pain we’re experiencing. Some benefits of acceptance may include:
Thinking about the situation less often
Our anger toward another person may lessen
Our anger toward ourselves may lessen
We enjoy other activities more because we aren’t focusing on the distressing circumstance that we can’t change
The following are some Acceptance Thoughts to memorize that can help you:
“It is what it is”
“It’s hard right now, but I can get through this”
“I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do to change it”