The process of acceptance entails actively letting negative experiences simply exist in our life without trying to change, avoid, or deny them. It enables us to open ourselves to unpleasant feelings or thoughts and allow them to be present without trying to suppress them. Acceptance provides an opportunity to move on more quickly from issues and struggles.1
Acceptance is surrendering to a moment’s experience. It has long been seen as having a positive effect in people’s lives.2 It is closely aligned with mindfulness. Religion and spirituality also emphasize its utility and benefits.3,4,5 The oft-recited serenity prayer is a classic example of the principle of acceptance.6
Acceptance is also a principal tenet of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), an evidenced-based psychological treatment. ACT has been shown to be effective for numerous conditions.
Acceptance helps with the processing of overwhelming feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. People often avoid accepting difficult circumstances because it requires some experiencing of what they perceive as helpless, hopeless, or unacceptable.7 However, as so aptly stated in Stoddard and Afari’s Big Book of ACT Metaphors, “Acceptance does not imply liking or wanting, nor does it represent giving up, giving in, or resignation. Simply put, acceptance means gently holding whatever arises.”8
Affirmative therapy is a therapeutic approach often applied to marginalized communities that draws from affirmative psychology, sexual minority stress theory, and the concepts of intersectionality.
True self-acceptance involves “seeing yourself as worthwhile, and valuable, because you exist, you are unique, with specific strengths and weaknesses” and “accepting yourself in spite of your achievements, flaws, and whether people approve of you or not.”
Acceptance is the process of allowing things to be as they are without actively trying to change them. Acceptance is a process, and life often provides different opportunities to practice it through the numerous and varied experiences we encounter.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) uses acceptance, mindfulness, commitment, and behavioral strategies to improve an individual’s flexibility in response to life’s challenges.