Acceptance does not mean to sit back and do nothing. It is to see things clearly, recognizing when action is necessary and when it is not.
In the past, I used to believe that acceptance was the same as surrender and apathy. I thought that if I stopped fighting and “put down the rope” in my tug-o-war with life, it meant that I was giving up everything that I want and giving up on the people that I cared about. I thought it meant that I was accepting unhappiness and suffering rather than fighting for circumstances to be better. I once believed that in order to love someone, I constantly had to try to make them “better” and “fix” their lives. I found this sort of existence draining – emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. I came into the recovery program because I was fed up of my relationships with others as well as myself.
In recovery, I found another way. Now I realize that I can choose to stop trying to change things I cannot control (for example, the behavior of others). I can, instead, accept others and the reality of who they are. This does not mean that accepting reality immediately leads to me forcing myself to suffer through certain behaviors and actions that are unacceptable to me. Instead, I can establish my boundaries – both for myself and others. If those boundaries are crossed, I have choices and I can take pause and call my sponsor or friends in the fellowship to help me gain perspective on the situation rather than rushing into action. I can also ask myself “How important is it? Am I doing this to keep/improve my serenity or to try to control others?”, and based on my answers, I can choose not to do anything. These acts of accepting reality, taking pause, examining my motivations, being self-aware, and establishing my boundaries are a far cry from the act of “surrender” that I used to imagine when thinking of these things. I used to think that if I did those things, I would lose myself and those that I loved. Instead, they are a healthy way for me to be more in touch with myself and my needs so that I can maintain my serenity rather than try to control others. Because of these choices, rather than losing myself, I was able to find myself and able to love and respect others.
A meditation for February 27, 2013.
Heavy in your Arms – Florence + the Machine