Am I at Acceptance yet?

What is the difference between being positive and having acceptance when dealing with a crisis? After I was diagnosed with a muscle disease, I went to counseling where I was told not to be so negative.  At the same time, I was told that I needed to work on acceptance.  However, in order for me to do that I needed to be more positive.  I decided I was in a loop and needed some time to think about all this. Actually, I was ready to say that I was positive that my life was ruined.  Perhaps a little dramatic but still I was ready. Just to be nice, I decided to give counseling more than a few minutes.

Early on I heard a new term, radical acceptance. This I was told was acceptance without judgment. Another view is, radical acceptance is accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. It’s difficult to accept what you don’t want to be true.

I thought, okay, now we are starting to get into it.  To do this, I was introduced to the concept of Mindfulness Meditation, which opened a whole new world of questions for me. I was told that mindfulness should focus on gratitude and being positive. This was an awareness of the present moment without judgment. Instead of judgment, I should react according to my values. This sounded a lot like judgment to me. This was a lot to take in, but so far so good.

I was not going to give in that fast and slipped over to the negative side, just for a moment.  In my mind, acceptance was passive and accepting things as they were was giving up.  At this point, I was told that acceptance doesn’t mean passive resignation. It takes a huge amount of courage to accept what is, especially when you don’t like it. We quickly got back to radical acceptance.

Alright, so it is not passive, but I still feel we are going in a circle. I think I have acceptance down and I am working on not being negative. Perhaps I am over-thinking this. It is the end of session one, and I decide to give this Mindfulness a try.

After a few weeks, I started to realize just how much positive was in my life.  I got a few points for that. Starting my next session and it was suggested that I add gratitude. The suggested path to take for this was to note things I enjoy while going through my day. The idea was to slow down and recognize enjoyable moments, rather than running from one thing to the next. This took a little practice before I started to see results.

For a minute, think about what you appreciate. Slow your life down and appreciate all that you have.  Even in the worst scenario, there can be periods of joy: a spring shower, a sunset, the taste of your favorite food.  I discovered that slowing down, being mindful, and expressing appreciation actually worked. Over time, I found myself happier, calmer and experiencing more joy. Of course, my counselor told me that on day one.

Perhaps you have never had a major event in your life. Based on my journey so far, I am saying that you will go through all five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).  Nothing good happens until you get to the acceptance stage.  Remember that song “Don’t worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble – But when you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby McFerrin? Feel like you are stuck in the earlier stages, well start singing.