Acceptance…Embrace of self, situation and others

Acceptance may seem like a vague virtue at times. Are we meant to accept anything and everything? No, we are not. This would be a wrong perception of the virtue.

  • PublishedJune 1, 2011

Acceptance may seem like a vague virtue at times. Are we meant to accept anything and everything? No, we are not. This would be a wrong perception of the virtue. Acceptance refers to the grateful embrace of self, situation, and others. It involves accepting things as they are without refusing to acknowledge reality. Acceptance is probably one of the most misunderstood virtues and it’s important to point out some things that acceptance is not. Denial is not part of acceptance. We also cannot select what we will or won’t accept. The virtue of acceptance seeks to embrace reality and not repress, deny or reject it. Acceptance includes gratitude and receptivity which denial does not subscribe to. Detachment is also not part of this virtue. Acceptance is a loving quality while detachment is not.

Resignation and indifference also do not define acceptance. Another thing we need to understand is that there are many things that we may have to accept that we may not necessarily approve of. They may be in us, in situations, or even in our society. We need to be willing to accept reality as it is first before we go about changing anything. Note that this does not mean that we are to approve of the negative or inappropriate. Acceptance means that we are in a state of mind that allows us to be peaceful and to recognise the difference between what we can change and what we cannot.
How many of us are usually willing to accept reality as it is? It’s usually easier to deny, suppress, mask or distract ourselves from our situations. Reality is not the easiest thing to accept, and author T. S. Elliot was right to point out that we cannot handle too much reality. There are three major areas of our lives that we need to apply the virtue of acceptance: self, situation, and society.

The self is one of the most difficult to accept because of our flaws and limitations. We must learn to gratefully accept our own unique personality, strengths, and skills. We also need to acknowledge that our existence is a gift, trivial as this may sound. We also need to accept our situation in life. We must learn to accept what life brings – great or small, good or bad, joyous or painful. A lot of times our pride causes us to think that we deserve much more than what we already have. We need to be grateful for what we have. Not only that, but we must also gratefully accept the consequences of our decisions – especially our bad decisions.

Lastly we need to accept society. This refers to the different people that God has placed in our lives, as they are all there for a purpose. These include the people you may hate or find irritating. We may never know the full possibilities of our relationships with others unless we are willing to accept them as they are. Acceptance is easier said than done a lot of times but it is nonetheless an achievable feat. We know we have fully accepted self, situation, and society when we can truly give thanks for each of these things.


Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there’s all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyses the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.

Arthur Gordon (1829-1912), British Liberal Party politician

The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favour wish that he might have done you a greater one.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist Minister and civil rights leader

Acceptance. It is the true thing everyone longs for. The one thing everyone craves – to walk in a room and to be greeted by everyone with hugs and smiles. And in that small passing moment, you truly know you’re loved, needed, and accepted.

Rena Harmon, American actress

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

Carl Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychiatrist

You have to accept whatever comes your way and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), First lady of the United States 1933-1945

Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.

William James (1842-1910), Pioneering American psychologist and philosopher

Your thoughts

Acceptance is taking life as it comes and finding rest in the fact that God has good plans for us all no matter what situation we may find ourselves in.

Grace Waruguru, mother

Acceptance is embracing your current situation, whether good or bad, without denying the existing facts. It also includes being grateful while going through a situation one has no power over.

Meidimi Sokoto, businessman

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