March 04, 2005

Acceptance Does Not Imply Helplessness

"One of the teachings that has been emphasized by many teachers is that of cceptance. Accepting what is. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean accepting the way things are? Well, yes it does, but it doesn't stop there.

Acceptance is in a sense acknowledging how things are -- without judgment, without negativity, without anger and blame. It is an impartial observation: I see how this is, I acknowledge that this is so. Yet, does it mean that nothing can change? No. It is said that the only constant is change -- in other words, everything is always is a state of change, either growing or disintegrating. There is no such thing as stability, everything is always moving, changing.

So when we accept things as they are, we are simply noticing them, acknowledging that they exist. For example, let's say that your house is dirty. In order to clean it, you first have to accept, acknowledge, admit, that it is dirty. From that observation, you then decide to clean it (or not). In order for things to change, one must first accept, or acknowledge them as they are.

The important part of acceptance is to accept or notice without judgment,criticism, blame, or anger. We seem to have a tendency to attach emotions to our observations, as in, My house is dirty, I'm such a slob or I just can't seem to keep this house clean. It's overwhelming. These statements are charged with judgment and criticism. Acceptance on the other hand simply says, The house is dirty. The next step then becomes simply another step in the observation process, asking what I can do about it -- and then doing it without having beaten myself up about it.

Yet, so many times, we get angry when we notice behaviors that we have, or that others have. Noticing in itself is impartial -- we simply notice, we are aware of something. But the next step is the one that gets us in trouble -- the part where we attach a judgment to the observation. We look at something and then get into criticizing it, blaming someone, heaping anger upon it. Then we get caught up in focusing on "the problem" and noticing all the things we don't like about it, everything that is "wrong with it".

Acceptance, or non-judgment, on the other hand also notices these things but without the added charge of anger, blame, self-righteousness, etc. Acceptance sees what is, and then goes on to ask if there is anything that can be done. If the answer is yes, then we can move forward..."

Read the rest of this article by Marie T Russell here.

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