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Acceptance is the Key for Better Mental Health

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  When I’m disturbed, it’s because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable. I cannot find serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation being exactly the way it’s supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing in God’s world is by mistake. Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.  That’s an excerpt from the Big Book of AA, page 417.

Dr. Bob, the founder of AA, was a pioneer in what we now call Cognitive Behaviour Therapies (CBT).  This “Acceptance” piece in the Big Book is not unlike a main principle of CBT – Unconditional Acceptance of Self, Others, and Life.

USA – Unconditional Self-Acceptance: I am more than my behaviours. I have worth just as I am. I can’t change the past, but I can change my future.  Repeating affirmations like this can help to repair the brain and build resilience.  Resilience can help us delay gratification, resist temptation, and maintain motivation to achieve goals.

UOA – Unconditional Other Acceptance:  Other people have value, regardless of their flaws. Other people don’t always act in ways that I prefer. Other people are as worthy as I am. Repeating affirmations like these can pave the way to cross the bridge to forgiving someone who isn’t sorry and accepting an apology never received.  Crossing that forgiveness bridge can be a long hike, I know… and it can also be life transformational when you reach the other side!

ULA – Unconditional Life Acceptance:  I think it was Mark Twain who said, “The only certainty of life is life’s uncertainty!”  There are no shortage of uncertainties in life, that’s for sure.  Having a structured routine can be the glue that holds life together.  A schedule of sleeping, eating, and exercising at the same time every day can provide a sense of order and accomplishment.

It’s also good to practice the Ps.  PATIENCE reminds me that my direction is more important than my speed.

I relapsed almost every year for a few years, but I kept going to meetings and kept doing “the work.”  Relapses weren’t failures, they were simply opportunities for me to learn.  Knowledge teaches us what to do, and PRACTICE teaches us how to do it.  If we want to learn how to do anything (especially building new healthy habits), it takes daily dedication and practice.

Recovery doesn’t take long. It takes a persistent willingness to exert consistent efforts to help yourself. You will get where you want to be with PATIENCE, PRACTICE, and PERSISTENCE.  It works when you work it, and you’re worth it!

About the Author

Tanya MacIntyre is a CBT Practitioner, Mental Health Professional, and owner/operator of Red Roof Recovery.

DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to constitute, or be a substitute for, medical diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from your doctor, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have watched, read, or heard from anyone at Red Roof Recovery.