Spiritual Wisdom of Acceptance


Dogs have already figured out the wisdom of acceptance. Dogs accept things as they are.

The squirrel outran Sandy to the tree. She doesn’t have to like it. She barks to warn the little interloper that next time will be different. But then she is off patrolling the rest of the yard for other furry invaders. Or seeking out new smells, or finding a really cool stick. She doesn’t cling to what didn’t go her way.

I try to learn from my dogs.


Why acceptance?

You don’t need spiritual wisdom to understand why we have to accept our current reality.

Simple logic will suffice. To fight reality is exhausting. It uses too much of your precious energy.

If you take this unwillingness to accept reality too far, they put you in your own little room with padded walls. I’m told sometimes they let you out to do crafts.

Which can sound pretty good if your reality sucks, but I don’t advise it. 

If I had to choose a single spiritual tradition, I would call myself a Taoist. Taoism centers on acceptance.

The Tao flows and we cannot divert it, control it, stop it, or in any way bend it to our will. It is.

We can only greet the Tao with acceptance.

So give up? 

There is a difference between accepting things as they are and giving up any hope for change.

There is a difference between resignation and acceptance. Here is a more detailed explanation of this difference.

I accept things as they are because I know we cannot fight the Tao.

I also know that the Tao is always changing. And therein lies our power.

The Stockdale Paradox 

This is a cornerstone of the Stockdale Paradox. To survive horrific circumstances like a POW camp or abusive relationship, you have to see the brutal reality. You have to know how bad it is, before you have any hope.

That lets you see your own power - probably just tiny bits. Those tiny bits are the way out. They are the way to survive, the way to prevail in dire circumstances. But first you have to accept the full brutality of the situation

The Stockdale Paradox

Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties

and at the same time,

confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.


Acceptance is not Passive

Acceptance is active awareness of the circumstances.

It allows you to see what is, understand it, and only then can you decide if you need to change something. Acceptance is a true understanding of what you can change.

Huff was in a bad situation – abused, confined, and crated. He was trapped in a bad situation that he didn’t deserve.

Huff could have become angry and bitter. He might have turned vicious. He could have withdrawn from all people. If he had done that, he would died in his crate.

Instead he accepted his situation, but he also accepted the small bits of good that came his way. That was the key that unlocked his crate. He made friends and those friends ultimately rescued him.

Huff went from this:

To this:

Huff did not lose all his fears after his rescue, but he understood that he was safe and protected. Once rescued, he allowed himself to enjoy the good life he had.

He let go of the past and loved the people who loved him and treated him with kindness. 

Acceptance is Joy

Acceptance is part of spiritual wisdom traditions because it works. It allows us to enjoy life now.

We see and enjoy what is. 

We let it go of pain in the past, so we can enjoy the next bit of joy life is holding out to us.

Seek more spiritual wisdom. 

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