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Barriers to Acceptance

Acceptance is a powerful tool. It enables us to let go, to move forward, to refocus, to feel empowered, and perhaps most importantly, to find a sense of peace within our own reality. That being said, acceptance is a word that is commonly misunderstood… a tool that is frequently overlooked due to incorrect perceptions about what it really means to accept something.


Addressing the collective misperceptions about the term “acceptance” is a crucial part of the work that I do in the therapy room. It is often the first step in breaking down an individual’s conscious and subconscious barriers to acceptance. By breaking down these barriers, individuals are able to more readily implement acceptance into their daily lives as they work towards creating a valuable and meaningful life.


So, what are the top three myths that I hear about acceptance?


  1. “Acceptance means I’m giving up” Acceptance is not passive. It is not throwing your hands up in the air and saying, “I give up”. Rather, acceptance is a conscious choice. It is a difficult and strong choice. It is a decision that must be chosen every single day, perhaps even, every single minute. Acceptance means that you are choosing to not give up. Instead, you are willfully embracing what is outside of your control as a means towards working with what is in your control. Paradoxically, the more we utilize acceptance, the more we take control.


  1. “Acceptance means I like it” Acceptance is not the equivalent of liking something. To accept anxiety does not mean that one enjoys or likes the experience of anxiety. Rather, it simply comes back to accepting that this experience is outside of the realm of ones control. When you truly accept something, you must also accept the authentic and genuine emotional and cognitive experiences associated with it. This means that often times, we do not like that which we are choosing to accept.


  1. “Acceptance means I’m not working towards change” Instead of viewing acceptance as stagnancy, think of acceptance as being present focused. We accept what our current reality is. In doing so, we aren’t saying that we don’t desire future change or that we aren’t working towards some type of new direction or path. Rather, we are acknowledging our current experience for what it is – both the desirable and the undesirable. For example, I can accept my current experience with anxiety and at the same time be working towards better management of my anxiety. It is the acceptance of my present that allows me to change my direction in the future.


By challenging these common myths and perceptions, we give ourselves the freedom to break down barriers to acceptance. In doing so, the path towards acceptance and how to incorporate it into our own reality becomes clearer and less resisted.


Kaylee Garside, MA, has extensive experience in the areas of mindfulness and acceptance practices, plus many more. For more information on Kaylee and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.