representation of the daily life of a nurse going to work

What is acceptance?

Acceptance means embracing the present moment as it is.1 

Alcoholics Anonymous defines this action or process as “[accepting] life completely on life’s terms.”

When faced with painful experiences, we often try to minimize their importance or deny them. In the short run, this is effective. Avoiding pain makes sense. But in the long run, the more we struggle to escape, avoid, or get rid of our unpleasant thoughts and feelings, the more they persist. This creates an endless loop of suffering.

When we accept, we let go of this struggle.

Acceptance is not bucking up, tolerating, resigning yourself, or feeling defeated. Rather, it consists of three As:2

  • Acknowledge that the experience is difficult.
  • Allow the experience to be what it is.
  • Accommodate: Let unwanted thoughts, feelings, urges, sensations, and memories be present with you for as long as they are there. Don’t try to fix or remove them. Change means embracing the pain of the present moment and feeling difficult emotions, yet still acting in ways that align with our values.