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Acceptance Vs. Resignation

In my 20 years as a spiritual advisor, I was repeatedly surprised to see how often people resist the spiritual teachings about willingness and acceptance. I discovered that it is usually because they have deep misconceptions about what these words mean in a spiritual context. In this series of blog posts I will unpack these misconceptions and invite into a deep appreciation of acceptance and willingness.

One of the most common misconceptions is that acceptance really means resignation but they are actually vastly different from one another. Resignation is a collapse into bitter defeat while acceptance is an elevation into an expanded capacity to bring love and joy to painful places. If resignation is miserably slogging home in an unexpected rainstorm then acceptance is more like dancing in the rain.

If the rainstorm comes, we can not make it sunny again, we can not prevent our clothes from being soaked and we cannot change the fact that it’s uncomfortable. Resisting those realities takes a great deal of energy and causes unnecessary misery. Alternatively, if we accept the whole reality then we free up enough energy to expand our hearts and invite love and joy into the experience. I’m not talking about a kind of forced positivity where one rejects the unpleasant or painful feelings and tries to replace them with positive ones. In authentic states of acceptance, the love and joy don’t need to replace the feelings of discomfort, they can join them and create an expanded reality. The expanded reality then has space for a host of other lovely possibilities like wonder, humor, gratitude, inspiration, joy and peace.

The capacity for authentic states of acceptance usually requires years of cultivation. It is common to find oneself slipping into habitual patterns of resisting or clinging to pain. But I assure you that cultivating it is tremendously rewarding and even magical. Authentic acceptance is an uncommonly expansive consciousness state which acts as a magnetic force for all kinds of spiritual gifts. I’ll talk more about how acceptance attracts other expanded consciousness states that in another post.