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Growing Roses and the Value of Acceptance

rose_smiling_face_acceptance_actionDon’t try to grow roses in a parking lot, Rick Hanson advises.

An essential first step in taking effective action is first understanding what we cannot influence or change, and fully accepting those facts.

Acceptance does not mean approval, overlooking, or forgiveness, Rick notes. You simply face the facts, including the fact of your limited influence. And through acceptance, you open yourself up to greater resourcefulness to deal with life’s difficulties.

If you cannot accept a fact – that it exists, that it has happened, whatever your preferences may be – then see if you can accept the fact that you cannot accept the fact!

Some possible “stretch” exercises in acceptance:

– Review a life event that has troubled you. See if you can accept it as something that happened, like it or not – and as truly just a part of a much larger and probably mainly positive whole.

– Focus on an aspect of your body that you don’t like. Tell the truth to yourself about the extent to which you can change it and make a clear choice as to what you will actually do. Then see if you can accept whatever remains as just the way it is – and as only a small part of the much larger and generally positive whole that is you.

– Bring to mind a key person in your life. Have there been any ways that you’ve been trying to affect or change this person that are just not working? What limits to your influence here do you need to accept?

– Reflect on something you’ve wanted to happen but been frustrated about – perhaps a career shift, a sale to a new customer. Are the necessary supporting conditions truly present? If they are, then stick with it and be patient. But if they are not present – if you’re trying to grow roses in a parking lot – consider shifting your hopes and efforts in another direction.