40+ of Our Favorite Quotes on Acceptance

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40+ of Our Favorite Quotes on Acceptance

THC Editorial Team June 16, 2021
Meditation in desert By Patrick Schneider on Unsplash (article on acceptance quotes)
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash


What Is Acceptance?

Acceptance1 is the process of allowing things to be as they are without actively trying to change them. Much like mindfulness, it entails letting any experience—positive, neutral, or negative—simply exist in life without trying to alter, avoid, or deny it. To some, acceptance comes easily. To many, acceptance is a process that requires conscious effort, skill, and wisdom.

Practicing acceptance has long been seen as having a positive effect on people’s lives.2 Psychologists have long posited that the practice of acceptance leads to better mental health, personal growth, and wellness. In addition, practicing acceptance enables people to open themselves to unpleasant feelings or thoughts and allow them to exist without trying to suppress or avoid them. It also provides an opportunity to move on more quickly from issues and struggles.When we allow the present moment to exist, we can more easily begin to work on what is important now without attempting to deny, suppress, or reject it.

Throughout history, the utility and benefits of acceptance have been emphasized in religion and spirituality.4,5,6 The oft-recited Serenity Prayer is an apt description of the principle of acceptance:7

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.

The Difference Between Acceptance and Self-Acceptance

Sometimes people struggle to understand the difference between acceptance and self-acceptance as mental health practices. In general, the difference relates to the locus of the practice: self-acceptance refers to practicing acceptance only in relation to oneself, whereas acceptance can occur in relation to oneself, other people, or even events, objects, situations, and circumstances.1

Quotes on Acceptance and Self-Acceptance

The following are some of our favorite acceptance quotes.

  • “Mindfulness develops in us the inner resources to accept what we cannot change long enough that we may approach the things we can change with wisdom.”8 – Rhonda V. Magee, The Inner Work of Racial Justice


  • “Acceptance is
    To be Noble,
    To be Whole,
    One with Heaven-and-Nature,
    With the Enduring Tao.”9
    – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


  • “Acceptance of
    Imperfection is
    Attained through
    Emptiness and Purest Calm, through the
    Return to the Primal, to the Root.
    All Vain Thoughts vanish,
    all Cares fade away.”9
    – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching



  • “The two parts of genuine acceptance—seeing clearly and holding our experience with compassion—are as interdependent as the two wings of a great bird. Together, they enable us to fly and be free.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “We can’t honestly accept an experience unless we see clearly what we are accepting.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “The way out of our cage begins with accepting absolutely everything about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “As we lean into the experience of the moment—releasing our stories and gently holding our pain or desire—Radical Acceptance begins to unfold.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “On this sacred path of Radical Acceptance, rather than striving for perfection, we discover how to love ourselves into wholeness.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “We cultivate Radical Acceptance of pain by relaxing our resistance to unpleasant sensations and meeting them with non-reactive awareness.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “Radical Acceptance is the art of engaging fully in this world—wholeheartedly caring about the preciousness of life—while also resting in the formless awareness that allows this life to arise and pass away.”11
    – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance


  • “I think I may hazard the suggestion that in the moment of death many people undergo the curious sensation not only of accepting but also of having willed everything that has happened to them. This is not willing in the imperious sense; it is the unexpected discovery of an identity between the willed and the inevitable.”12
    – Alan Watts, Psychotherapy East and West


  • “To be human is to grow toward an acceptance of paradox and widen our capacity to tolerate uncertainty until we say “I don’t know” more often than “I know.””13
    – Sheryl Paul, The Wisdom of Anxiety


  • “To be human is to struggle. Eventually we realize that when we sit under the umbrella of “shoulds”—“This shouldn’t be so hard. I should be happy.”—the pain rains down harder. But when we accept the fact that anxiety, depression, loneliness, powerlessness, grief, joy, and exhilaration are all part of the design, we step out into the rain and perhaps even dance a little.”13
    – Sheryl Paul, The Wisdom of Anxiety



  • “We must accept life for what it actually is—a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.”14
    – Ida Wylie, as cited in The Big Book of ACT Metaphors


  • “Acceptance (along with the related concept of willingness) involves making full contact with internal experiences without attempting to escape, change, or control those events. 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.”14
    – Jill Stoddard and Niloofar Afari, The Big Book of ACT Metaphors


  • “Acceptance involves the action of allowing the presence of all experiences—internal and external, positive and negative—as they are in the moment, without attempting to change the form or frequency of these experiences.”14
    – Jill Stoddard and Niloofar Afari, The Big Book of ACT Metaphors


  • “The ultimate goal of acceptance and willingness is to increase behavioral options, developing the flexibility to respond as the situation requires.”14
    – Jill Stoddard and Niloofar Afari, The Big Book of ACT Metaphor


  • “Along with recognizing our vulnerability, self-acceptance arises as we deepen trust in our essential goodness.”15
    – Tara Brach, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “The dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from fear, anxiety, and depression in the last decades is a direct reflection of how many of us struggle with the painful lack of inner peace and self-acceptance.”15
    – Friedemann Schaub, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “One of the first steps toward self-acceptance and self-compassion is to become aware of how our self-talk can be based in judgment, worry, and self-doubt.”15
    – Friedemann Schaub, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Emotions are central to almost everything we think, feel, and do. When we can accept our emotions, then self-acceptance naturally follows.”15
    – Karla McLaren, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Self-acceptance is the ability to accept all of our parts and to be open to them, even interested in them.”15
    – Jay Early, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Acceptance is the first step toward cultivating forgiveness and understanding, but it’s also the first step toward effecting change. By acknowledging and accepting that we are doing the best we can right now and that we would like to do better, we can begin (without judgment or shame) to set personal goals and work toward them.”15
    – Erin Olivo, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Acceptance means acknowledging what is happening in the present moment and allowing it to be as it is, without fighting reality.”15
    – Erin Olivo, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “There is another way. It is the way of kindness, the way of slowness, the way of true self-acceptance.”15
    – Jeff Foster, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Self-acceptance is a kind of courage—a quiet courage. It means meeting life with who we are completely, being open to how we’re shaped in the same way the shore is shaped by the surf.”13
    – Mark Nepo, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Ultimately, self-acceptance relates to the opening of the heart. It has to do with the long, hard journey of loving ourselves.”15
    – Mark Nepo, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “Self-acceptance is a great matter, asking much of us, and giving back even more. Exploring and cultivating intimacy with what’s in the way of self-acceptance is an essential journey for us, if we are to truly come alive.”15
    – Robert Augustus Masters, in The Self-Acceptance Project


  • “One of the difficulties with shame is that it does not seem to be expressed and released in the same way as other feelings: Sadness and grief are released through crying, anger through yelling and stomping about, fear through screaming and shaking.…Though it appears not to discharge, it does seem to dissipate under very special circumstances—the nonjudgmental, accepting contact of another human being.”16
    – Babette Rothschild, The Body Remembers


  • “If you can recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain is there, joy can also be there at the same time.”17
    – Thich Nhat Hanh, No Mud, No Lotus


  • “Nobody signs up for marriage because they want to be changed by their partner. It doesn’t work. Ever. Go all in or go home. Marriage and commitment can only work if we accept each other wholeheartedly.”18
    – Stan Tatkin, We Do


  • “To honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime.”19
    – Robert A. Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow


  • “When you fully accept that you don’t know, you give up struggling to find answers with the limited thinking mind, and that is when a greater intelligence can operate through you. And even thought can then benefit from that, since the greater intelligence can flow into it and inspire it.”20
    – Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks


  • “When we are experiencing immeasurable pain, fear, and sorrow, when we are vulnerable and tender, that is the very time to turn toward experience rather than to escape it. It is the very time when we most need acceptance; when we most need love. To love then, as it is meant here, is to remain fully present, with self and others, when difficult internal conditions arise.”21
    – Robyn D. Walser, in Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology


  • “By wrapping one’s pain in the warm embrace of self-compassion, positive states are generated that help balance the negative ones. The positive affect generated by the kind, connected, and accepting mindset of self-compassion may help us break free of fear and greatly improve the quality of our lives.”21
    – Kristin Neff and Dennis Tirch, in Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology


  • “By acceptance I mean a warm regard for…a person of unconditional self-worth—of value no matter what his condition, his behavior, or his feelings.”22
    – Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person


  • “Denial is usually a temporary defense and will soon be replaced by partial acceptance.”23
    – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying


  • “Acceptance is not about liking a situation. It is about acknowledging all that has been lost and learning to live with that loss.”24
    – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, On Grief and Grieving


  • “Acceptance is a process that we experience, not a final stage with an end point.”24
    – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, On Grief and Grieving


  • “If we have the strength and the courage to confront our own emotions and to accept every one of them as a part of us, we cannot only finish our “unfinished business,” but, as we have so often seen, add months and even years to our lives.”25
    – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Working It Through


  • “Take a deep breath. Breathe in a sense of acceptance of what is here, with as little judgment as possible.”8
    – Rhonda V. Magee, The Inner Work of Racial Justice


  • “Accepting for the moment does not mean that we accept forever. It means we pause long enough to really see something clearly, as a prelude to really looking into what we see and deepening our understanding. It is not passive resignation.”8
    – Rhonda V. Magee, The Inner Work of Racial Justice


  1. The Human Condition. (2021, June 11). On Acceptance: To Accept What Is.
  2. Rogers, C. R. (1995). What understanding and acceptance mean to me. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 35(4), 7–22.
  3. Barnes-Holmes, D. (2009). Core processes in acceptance and commitment therapy. In J. T. Blackledge, J. V. Ciarrochi, & F. P. Deane (Eds.), Acceptance and commitment therapy: Contemporary theory research and practice (pp. 41–58). Australian Academic Press.
  4. Trammel, R. C. (2017). Tracing the roots of mindfulness: Transcendence in Buddhism and Christianity. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 36(3), 367–383.
  5. Carrico, A. W., Gifford, E. V., & Moos, R. H. (2007). Spirituality/religiosity promotes acceptance-based responding and 12-step involvement. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 89(1), 66–73.
  6. Levenson, M. R., & Aldwin, C. M. (2013). Mindfulness in psychology and religion. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 580–594). Guilford Press.
  7. Napier, C. (2020, December 18). What is the Serenity Prayer? Is it biblical? Christianity.com.
  8. Magee, R. V. (2019). The inner work of racial justice: Healing ourselves and transforming our communities through mindfulness. TarcherPerigee.
  9. Tzu, L. (2019). Tao Te Ching: The essential translation of the ancient Chinese Book of the Tao (J. Minford, Trans.). Penguin Classics.
  10. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2016). Mindfulness for beginners: Reclaiming the present moment—and your life. Sounds True.
  11. Brach, T. (2004). Radical acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha. Bantam.
  12. Watts, A. (2017). Psychotherapy East & West. New World Library.
  13. Paul, S. (2019). The wisdom of anxiety: How worry and intrusive thoughts are gifts to help you heal. Sounds True.
  14. Stoddard, J. A., & Afari, N. (2014). The big book of ACT metaphors: A practitioner’s guide to experiential exercises and metaphors in acceptance and commitment therapy. New Harbinger.
  15. Simon, T. (Ed.). (2016). The self-acceptance project: How to be kind and compassionate toward yourself in any situation. Sounds True.
  16. Rothschild, B. (2000). The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment. Norton Professional Books.
  17. Hanh, T. N. (2014). No mud, no lotus: The art of transforming suffering. Parallax Press.
  18. Tatkin, S. (2018). We do: Saying yes to a relationship of depth, true connection, and enduring love. Sounds True.
  19. Johnson, R. A. (2009). Owning your own shadow: Understanding the dark side of the psyche. HarperOne.
  20. Tolle, E. (2003). Stillness speaks. New World Library.
  21. Kashdan, T. B., & Ciarrochi, J. V. (Eds.). (2013). Mindfulness, acceptance, and positive psychology: The seven foundations of well-being. Context Press.
  22. Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Houghton Mifflin.
  23. Kübler-Ross, E. (2014). On death and dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy and their own families. Scribner.
  24. Kübler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (1998). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. Scribner.
  25. Kübler-Ross, E. (1997). Working it through: An Elizabeth Kübler-Ross workshop on life, death, and transition. Scribner.

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