Accepting The Things We Cannot Change
Do you ever feel like the same things keep happening in your life? Do you find yourself saying, “It’s always something?”
Do you often feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? All of these beliefs and thoughts can have negative impacts on your mental health, and they come from a place of wanting to control the world around you. This can cause more stress and lead people to turn to unhealthy coping behaviors.
That’s why so many sober-living programs encourage people to “accept the things you cannot change.” But this radical acceptance isn’t always easy. These strategies can help.
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What Does It Mean To Accept Things You Cannot Change?
Things happen in life that we have no control over such as the loss of a loved one, children leaving the nest, job layoff, and more. These difficult changes in life can lead to suffering.
“Radical acceptance” does not mean agreeing with what has happened. You don’t need to be glad that you’re experiencing hardship. In fact, that would be toxic positivity.
Instead, you only need to accept it. That means accepting that the difficult thing happened and accepting your emotional reaction to it.
The more we try to resist the fact of what is, the more we suffer. Accepting the reality around us lessens that suffering. And once we can truly accept something, we can move forward in coping with it.
How To Accept What You Cannot Change
So how do we practice radical acceptance of difficult events that take place in our lives? Try this strategy:
- Write down in a journal the cycles that keep continuing in your life, what causes distress and what you feel is out of your control.
- Look at your list a week later. Has it changed? Review the items in your list that haven’t changed.
- Repeat this for several days.
- The following week, look at each item on your list individually and ask yourself, “Is there something I can do about this ?”
- There will be some things that you cannot change.
- For the ones that you can do something about, develop options for change.
Making a list of pros and cons can be helpful when making decisions or changes as part of this process. Talk to your friends and family members. Sometimes once something is said out loud, we already know our own answer.
Once you make a decision to change something, start to take baby steps in that direction. Don’t forget to look back and see the progress you made.
In life, there are things we can change, and some we cannot. The first step to well-being is to recognize that and radically accept, “what is.” If you need more help doing this, don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist.