Acceptance can be a gift, but sometimes it can be a difficult pill to swallow. It brings peace and joy as well as pain.
When we learn acceptance, we also learn we can begin to ease our suffering. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation to something being the way it is. Resignation is passive; it smells of defeat or helplessness.
True acceptance is an active conscious choice—graceful and esteeming. We see things as they are and acknowledge them with compassion. We accept our humanness and we accept the humanness in others. It doesn’t mean accepting someone’s unacceptable behaviour, and it doesn’t mean excusing one’s own.
Acceptance provides room for growth. It allows us to honour our worth, and what naturally follows is the desire to be a good person and behave in esteeming ways. Our lifetimes are spent evolving, growing as human beings and, in my case, seeking to become the best version of myself I can be.
Let me share a story with you.
It was the morning of the final day my former partner and I were going to spend together.
I woke at 5:20 a.m. but wasn’t able to get back to sleep. My mind was busy with saddened thoughts about our mutual decision to end our two-and-a-half-year relationship. The darkness of the night was just beginning to lighten, and the birds in the trees surrounding my bedroom were singing in chorus, welcoming the new day.
I didn’t want to be lying there thinking how my afternoon would be spent saying goodbye. I wanted to sleep, but that wasn’t happening either. Accepting the situation as it was, I instead decided to get up and watch the sunrise.
I looked out the window, and the sky was overcast. I wondered whether I would even see the sun through the clouds. I wandered outside and climbed the little hill at the back of my home, which I knew would provide the perfect view. Despite the otherwise cloud-filled sky, there was a break in the clouds showing a sliver of blue sky immediately above where the sun was beginning to rise. The soft edges of the round, greyish-white clouds began to glow with a warm shade of amber.
I closed my eyes, brought my hands into prayer position at my forehead and quietly said a prayer to the higher consciousness I felt guiding me.
When I opened my eyes, I saw golden rays of sunlight softly beaming out beyond the clouds and I felt immense joy in that moment—even in my pain.
I came back inside and made him a coffee. I spent some time meditating on my balcony while he packed his things. We then enjoyed lunch at a nice little café we used to frequent together at the beginning of our relationship.
Then I dropped him at the airport.
That was the last day I saw him.
It was a beautiful and graceful end to a journey between two people who loved each other deeply despite our differences. We were able to see and accept our relationship was no longer working for us and it was time to move on.
Having acceptance around our uncoupling allowed me room to grieve, to experience deep sorrow, to love and to cry, to miss him terribly, to laugh and share stories with friends. It allowed me to honour the goodness of our relationship as well as recognise and accept what wasn’t working.
I was also able to see and accept my contribution to the breakdown of our relationship; I saw my part in why things didn’t work out, and this insight allows me to constructively improve my ways of being that aren’t helpful to me. It allows me to open up to deeper personal growth and more fulfilling relationships in the future. It is also a painful and a sorrow-filled peeling of layers.
I woke this morning with a heavy heart, remembering some of the things I’d said. But because I can practice acceptance around it—and it is a practice—I don’t have the suffering and torment that comes with blame-seeking or self-condemning. By allowing myself to experience the grief, what I felt was proportionate to the loss I experienced and my desire to grow through it.
Life is constantly changing and evolving around us. We outgrow old situations and become ready for new ones.
A large proportion of the population really don’t like change all that much. It can be confronting and sometimes terrifying. Any kind of loss or change brings with it a period of grief and adaptation.
With practice, I have been able to connect with a source of higher consciousness that helps me feel unconditionally supported even when I’m alone. This provides me with a great source of comfort. When we can trust and believe what is unfolding is for our greater good, we become able to fear less.
We experience faith and know in our hearts that all will be well. This opens the door for acceptance.
Accepting this grieving process allows me to reflect on the pain I experience as a gift, for it propels me to make caring choices for myself—to watch a sunrise, to reach out and connect with friends, to run myself a warm bath, to buy a posy or pick some wild flowers, to add some of those petals with essential oils to my bath, to spend time outside in nature, to be gentle, to give myself permission to spend an afternoon in bed with books and movies if that’s what I need to do.
It allows me to love myself in my heartbreak.
Acceptance of my grief allows me to be in the present moment as I experience it, and in doing so, I am honouring my relationship with him and with myself.
They say people come into our lives for various reasons, mostly to teach us in some way and help us evolve as human beings. I equally accept that when that person’s purpose in our life has been completed, it may simply be time to move on.
I continue to love the man who has helped me to grow into the woman I am today. In his times of generosity and tenderness he allowed me to return to a state of wholeness again and again.
Now it is time to practice that on my own, moving forward with infinite love and gratitude.
BONUS: Mindful First Date Tips!
Author: Jennifer A. Faulkner
Editor: Toby Israel