Acceptance of what is, of our current reality, whether on a personal, societal or even a global level, is often challenging. Health issues, familial situations or financial concerns often loom large in our day-to-day lives, causing worry and stress – neither of which is good for us nor does anything to resolve unpleasant situations.
How our society is functioning and our world is doing also impacts our peace of mind and our ability to be at our best.
The pandemic alone has wreaked havoc with our stress levels in every area of our lives. National and global crises push our anxiety buttons even more. We are now challenged by the additional stress of “what now?!” It may seem impossible not to experience anxiety, anger or even dread at the unknown in front of us.
And yet, research done by psychologists shows that people who accept their negative thoughts and emotions without judgment do better, both mentally and emotionally.
Although these individuals certainly acknowledge their negative feelings, they don’t react to them, which would exacerbate the negativity. In the long run, such psychological well-being translates to better physical well-being, given the powerful mind-body connection.
What does acceptance look like? It’s not pretending that something bad doesn’t exist. It’s not pretending that you like the situation – you don’t. Acceptance consists of acknowledging how you feel about a situation without obsessing about it or otherwise magnifying it. Acceptance allows you to respond to the situation as opposed to react to it.
Take, for example, the actions of mothers in Poland whose response to the overwhelming number of displaced Ukrainian citizens fleeing their war-torn country was to place baby strollers, infant supplies, blankets and other baby necessities at the border between the two countries so that Ukrainian mothers would have the necessities to care for their children.
I seriously doubt that the Polish people providing such a humanitarian answer to a dreadful situation were happy about the circumstances. What they showed us is how to accept something awful (not condone it) in order to do something positive.
We should do the same on a more personal level. Vivian Stancil has demonstrated her acceptance of her blindness by refusing to let it stop her. When Vivian’s physician told her, at 50, that she needed a more active lifestyle if she wanted to live to 60, Vivian, who had always been afraid of the water, took up swimming.
By the time she turned 74, Vivian was not only a many-times National Senior Games swimming champion but became the recipient of the prestigious SilverSneakers Award. This, on top of her having been named a Humana Game Changer because of her fierceness, dedication and inspiration to others.
In addition, Vivian created the Vivian Stancil Olympian Foundation, which offers free swimming lessons to low-income children.
Does Vivian like her blindness? I don’t know, I would venture to say, probably not, but does she accept it? A resounding “yes.” And look at what that acceptance has brought her – enhanced health and well-being for herself, fun kudos along the way and gracious opportunities for the less fortunate among us.
Acceptance. Not always easy, but a great way to move forward in life, especially in these chaotic and uncertain times.
Do you feel more or less stressed than you did a few years ago? Why? How did you deal with a negative situation in a positive way? How are you dealing now?