What is acceptance?

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What is acceptance?

Postby ezdzit247 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:33 pm

What Is Acceptance? By Bill W. -- AA Grapevine - March 1962

Todd M. posted the link to read the re-print of this articles in November Grapevine here:

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=22822&p=147709#p147709

This article turned out to be exactly what I needed to read and be reminded of today to help me deal with a particularly difficult, ongoing situation involving a tenant serious mental/emotional problems. After I read it, I felt relieved, like I had a way to go and a clear direction forward. I really really needed the boost!

One way to get at the meaning of the principle of acceptance is to meditate upon it in the context of AA's much used prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Essentially this is to ask for the resources of grace by which we may make spiritual progress under all conditions. Greatly emphasized in this wonderful prayer is a need for the kind of wisdom that discriminates between the possible and the impossible. We shall also see that life's formidable array of pains and problems will require many different degrees of acceptance as we try to apply this valued principle.

Sometimes we have to find the right kind of acceptance for each day. Sometimes we need to develop acceptance for what may come to pass tomorrow, and yet again we shall have to accept a condition that may never change. Then, too, there frequently has to be a right and realistic acceptance of grievous flaws within ourselves and serious faults within those about us - defects that may not be fully remedied for years, if ever.

All of us will encounter failures, some retrievable and some not. We shall often meet with defeat - sometimes by accident, sometimes self-inflicted, and at still other times dealt to us by the injustice and violence of other people. Most of us will meet up with some degree of worldly success, and here the problem of the right kind of acceptance will be really difficult. Then there will be illness and death. How indeed shall we be able to accept all these?

It is always worthwhile to consider how grossly that good word acceptance can be misused. It can be warped to justify nearly every brand of weakness, nonsense, and folly. For instance, we can "accept" failure as a chronic condition, forever without profit or remedy. We can "accept" worldly success pridefully, as something wholly of our own making. We can also "accept" illness and death as certain evidence of a hostile and godless universe. With these twistings of acceptance, we AAs have had vast experience. Hence we constantly try to remind ourselves that these perversions of acceptance are just gimmicks for excuse-making: a losing game at which we are, or at least have been, the world's champions.

This is why we treasure our Serenity Prayer so much. It brings a new light to us that can dissipate our old-time and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves. In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need be no disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles before us faster than they can be taken down.

On entering AA, we become the beneficiaries of a very different experience. Our new way of staying sober is literally founded upon the proposition that "Of ourselves, we are nothing, the Father doeth the works." In Steps One and Two of our recovery program, these ideas are specifically spelled out: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable" - "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." We couldn't lick alcohol with our own remaining resources and so we accepted the further fact that dependence upon a higher power (if only our AA group) could do this hitherto impossible job. The moment we were able to fully accept these facts, our release from the alcohol compulsion had begun. For most of us this pair of acceptances had required a lot of exertion to achieve. Our whole treasured philosophy of self-sufficiency had to be cast aside. This had not been done with old-fashioned willpower; it was instead a matter of developing the willingness to accept these new facts of living. We neither ran nor fought. But accept we did. And then we were free. There had been no irretrievable disaster.

This kind of acceptance and faith is capable of producing 100 percent sobriety. In fact it usually does; and it must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger, and pride. Hence in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our old-time attitudes of "all or nothing" will have to be abandoned.

Therefore our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives. Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built. At least this seems to be my own experience.

Another exercise that I practice is to try for a full inventory of my blessings and then for a right acceptance of the many gifts that are mine - both temporal and spiritual. Here I try to achieve a state of joyful gratitude. When such a brand of gratitude is repeatedly affirmed and pondered, it can finally displace the natural tendency to congratulate myself on whatever progress I may have been enabled to make in some areas of living. I try hard to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one's heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.

In times of very rough going, the grateful acceptance of my blessings, oft repeated, can also bring me some of the serenity of which our prayer speaks. Whenever I fall under acute pressures I lengthen my daily walks and slowly repeat our Serenity Prayer in rhythm to my steps and breathing. If I feel that my pain has in part been occasioned by others, I try to repeat, "God grant me the serenity to love their best, and never fear their worst." This benign healing process of repetition, sometimes necessary to persist with for days, has seldom failed to restore me to at least a workable emotional balance and perspective.

Another helpful step is to steadfastly affirm the understanding that pain can bring. Indeed pain is one of our greatest teachers. Though I still find it difficult to accept today's pain and anxiety with any great degree of serenity - as those more advanced in the spiritual life seem able to do - I can, if I try hard, give thanks for present pain nevertheless. I find the willingness to do this by contemplating the lessons learned from past suffering - lessons which have led to the blessings I now enjoy. I can remember, if I insist, how the agonies of alcoholism, the pain of rebellion and thwarted pride, have often led me to God's grace, and so to a new freedom. So, as I walk along, I repeat still other phrases such as these, "Pain is the touchstone of progress" . . . "Fear no evil". . . "This, too, will pass" . . . "This experience can be turned to benefit."

These fragments of prayer bring far more than mere comfort. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

To those who never have given these potent exercises in acceptance a real workout, I recommend them highly the next time the heat is on. Or, for that matter, at any time!
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: What is acceptance?

Postby Barbara D. » Sat Nov 12, 2016 2:26 pm

I'm pretty sure I've experienced every level of acceptance mentioned in the above writing.

Basically, I accept that I am not in charge of people, places, and things. If I want to have my own opinions, I must allow you to have yours. If I want you to accept me as I am, I must accept you as you are.

The rub comes when I can't accept you, but I refuse to withdraw and turn it over to a God of my Understanding. When this "power struggle" interferes with my spiritual condition, I endanger both of us.

This was really true for me when I was determined to "fix" my son who was on a variety of prescription, street, and alcoholic drugs. When I got out of the way and left him on a street corner with a suitcase in a druggy neighborhood, it was the biggest leap of faith I'd ever tried. It took a couple of years, but he did get clean and now says he appreciates my tough love and the fact that I stopped enabling him. OMG, he could have died! Whew. I'm glad I didn't have to accept that one.

Happy Saturday! Good luck, EZ! Barbara D, alcoholic
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Re: What is acceptance?

Postby ezdzit247 » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:16 pm

The rub comes when I can't accept you, but I refuse to withdraw and turn it over to a God of my Understanding. When this "power struggle" interferes with my spiritual condition, I endanger both of us.


Precisely! Exactly!

Well said. Thanks!
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: What is acceptance?

Postby clouds » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:55 am

Thanks for posting this, just in time to read as we encounter a disagreeable situation with our new landlord.

Always get what I need if I do the steps daily! :wink:
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: What is acceptance?

Postby positrac » Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:30 am

I don't think acceptance is for me a normal part of my fiber as a human as I can only speak about me. I mean like when I am challenged with friction of people, places and or things. This too shall pass does work and turning these over will as long as I don't try and control anything related to that issue. Mental rent is a real pain in the azz and I work to keep it cleared out as I try to change my mind and either move around and or think of something more pleasant.

Time has changed our world and yet this thread and topic have not changed in the slightest.
Last edited by positrac on Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is acceptance?

Postby PaigeB » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:24 am

Acceptance without expectation...

I hear HP has three answers for us: Yes. No. And WAIT. I don't know what to do if No is the answer, just do what is in front of me to try and seek the Yes. Otherwise, I don't know why I have to wait - but that is a lot like No, or at least No for Now. Again, I DO what I have to do this minute or this hour and seek the Yes.

When I don't pray for specifics I don't have expectations and when I don't get a Yes immediately I can be sure I have no idea what to expect! I want to remember to surrender all expectations and keep an open mind - better sooner than later! :mrgreen:
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