Acceptance of a situation should not be taken passively. It is best taken actively.
Passive acceptance looks like you being a victim of the situation. You accept “it is what it is” and simply allow it to be so. Oftentimes feeling defeated.
We flip the script 180 degrees and deny the situation. We push back and become combative. We look to force our will to change an outcome. This has a cost.
A coaching client got asked to lead a project in a manner that was different from that strategy they recommended. Naturally, they felt frustrated with the directive. Unfortunately, that frustration was rubbing off on the team in which they were leading tasked to execute on the decision.
They were caught between accepting their fate passively, which created their resistance, and denying the rationale, which created the frustration.
However, they also knew that they had a team to lead and could afford to allow their frustration to affect the team and create risk in the project.
We worked on creating an active acceptance. Actively accepting the current situation allows you to radically stay in the moment.
This concept was created by Jon Kabit-Zinn, who says that when we take an active approach to acceptance we “recognize the actuality of things, then we have the potential to apply wisdom in that situation to actually shift our own relationship to what is occurring in ways that might be profoundly healing or transformative.”
That is the radical nature of this kind of acceptance. We can change how we respond to a situation.
Kabit-Zinn further says that when we don’t accept or passively accept, we don’t have a true sense of where we stand in relation to the situation. Without that sense of where we stand, he says, it’s hard to know what the best next step is.
That’s where the stress kicks in. Fight, flight, freeze is likely to occur.
We have the power to respond however we want to any situation. This reality is true in pleasant situations, unpleasant, even horrible situations. Our ability to access the inner wisdom comes from our understanding of what is true in the current moment.
The process is actually quite simple.
First, realize what is actually going on right now at this moment. Don’t worry about what led up to this. Don’t worry about the future implications.
This is where my client was misstepping. They were litigating the decision in their mind (the past) and projected the possible negative implications moving forward (the future).
When we stopped, took a moment and just sat with the current situation, they were able to accept it and come to terms even with some of the logic behind the decision.
Second, we consider how we want to respond to the current situation. What resources do we have – mental, emotional, physical – to make the best decision for us at the moment. This is an opportunity to change course when we want to.
For my client, they were able to have more clarity around steps to take today in their leadership of the team and in the execution to be proactive around potential hurdles. Plus, their frustration subsided and they came back to operating from their power.
This is a radical approach. Notice when you find yourself triggered by something. Where you have an overly emotional response. Take a breath to notice what is true at this moment. Accept it non-judgmentally. Then use a full set of resources to move forward one step at a time, controlling what you can control and letting go of what you cannot.