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How To Embrace Acceptance – A Journey To Inner Peace

Irina Ciureanu is a dedicated psychologist and psychotherapist. With a previous background in business psychology, she now focuses on helping clients overcome trauma, anxiety, and depression through the AEDP model. This evidence-based approach combines mind-body techniques and neuroscience to provide effective and lasting healing.

 
Executive Contributor Irina Ciureanu

In my therapy practice, a question often echoes in the hearts of my clients: “How can I accept what has happened to me?”


Young woman with eyes closed enjoying the air and sea on a sunny day

It's a profound inquiry, one that once left me grasping for words until a revelation dawned upon me. Acceptance isn't a passive surrender; it's a tumultuous journey marked by resistance, anger, and sorrow. Only by allowing ourselves to grieve—our shattered dreams, the divergent paths of reality—do we pave the way for acceptance to gently unfurl its wings.


I perceive acceptance as a journey – involving a back-and-forth movement. It is not static, which is why sometimes a topic feels manageable, while other times it feels overwhelming. Acceptance is not easy! How can we make it easier to accept things? Sometimes, certain things are truly unacceptable, yet they have happened or are still happening to us. Does this resonate with you?


Acceptance is a crucial stage in our emotional journey, especially when dealing with significant changes or losses. It's important to understand what acceptance truly means and how it fits into the broader process of grieving.


What questions should you pose to yourself, and what actionable steps can you take?


1. Assess your position in the acceptance model: Where do you stand?

Acceptance is one of the stages of grief, a concept introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. It’s the point where we come to terms with the reality of our situation. This doesn’t mean we’re necessarily okay with what happened, but we recognize and acknowledge it. Acceptance is about understanding that some things are beyond our control and finding a way to live with that reality. The five stages of this model are:


  1. Denial: Refusing to accept the reality of the situation. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock.

  2. Anger: Feeling frustrated and helpless about the situation. This anger can be directed at oneself, others, or the situation itself.

  3. Bargaining: Attempting to negotiate a way out of the distress. This might involve making deals with a higher power or trying to change the situation by promising to behave differently.

  4. Depression: Experiencing deep sadness about the situation. This can involve feelings of despair, hopelessness, and mourning the loss.

  5. Acceptance: Coming to terms with the reality of the situation. Acceptance involves acknowledging the loss or change and finding ways to move forward.


2. Recognize acceptance as acknowledgment of reality

Not everything in life needs to be accepted passively. Acceptance should be more like acknowledging, “This is the situation I’m in now.” It’s not about giving up or condoning what has happened, but about facing reality without denial. It allows us to move forward, instead of getting stuck in what we wish could be different.


3. Grant yourself permission to grieve

Acceptance is deeply intertwined with the grieving process. Grieving is not just about mourning a loss, but about processing our emotions and experiences. Allowing yourself to grieve means giving yourself permission to feel sadness, anger, confusion, or any other emotion that comes up. Grieving is essential because it helps us process and ultimately accept what has happened. So, a question you can ask yourself here is: Have you grieved what you have lost—whether it is your dreams, your health, your marriage, your hopes, or anything else?


4. Connect with your real feelings

To reach acceptance, it’s crucial to get in touch with your true feelings. Don’t shy away from your emotions; instead, be with them and feel them! This can be difficult to do alone, so if possible, allow those close to you to join you in this process. Being with your feelings and with others at the same time can provide comfort and perspective, helping you feel less isolated in your grief. For that, you need to feel safe enough to give up your anxiety and defenses, which will naturally arise on their own. Come back to your feelings, feel the anger inside if you need to, and cry if you need to.


5. Transition from mourning to acceptance

After you’ve allowed yourself to grieve, acceptance often comes more naturally. It’s through processing these strong emotions that we make room for acceptance. This doesn't mean the pain completely goes away, but it becomes more manageable. As you move through grief and reach acceptance, you’ll find new behavioral tendencies emerging. This is because fully processing emotions allows us to integrate our experiences, leading to growth and new ways of being.


Acceptance is a journey. It’s about moving through the stages of grief, acknowledging our feelings, and finding a way to live with our new reality. By allowing ourselves to grieve and connecting with our real emotions, we create the space needed for acceptance to take root. From there, we can begin to heal and develop new, healthier ways of living and coping with our losses.


Take a moment to reflect on where you currently stand in your journey of acceptance. What steps can you take today to cultivate a deeper sense of acknowledgment and connection with your authentic emotions? By committing to this process with intention and openness, you empower yourself to embrace acceptance and embark on a path of profound healing and transformation.


Remember, seeking professional help, if needed, can be a valuable step towards restoring well- being in your life.


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Read more from Irina Ciureanu

 

Irina Ciureanu, Psychologist and Psychotherapist

With empathy, curiosity, and gentleness, she supports clients on their journey of emotional healing. She helps them recalibrate their life's path, highlighting the key questions needed to uncover their answers and internal resources for improved well-being. With over 15 years of extensive training and specializations in psychology and psychotherapy, Irina understands the personal and professional challenges of the modern world. Her approach, grounded in scientific validation, emphasizes the connection between mind and body. Through integrative therapy, she aims to foster transformation and enhance psycho-emotional health.

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