Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest.
How can one word have so much meaning behind it, while simultaneously, holding completely different implications to different people? The purpose of this blog is not to discuss acceptance as it relates to the college admission office, a particular group of people you wish to befriend, or waiting to find out if you qualify for government assistance or not. The way in which we are discussing acceptance is how it applies to one’s recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction.
Early in recovery, right in those first days in which uneasiness and uncomfortability pair together to form a seemingly eternal friendship in the forefront of your mind, a person’s focus is constantly being redirected to learning the concept of acceptance. But what should that person accept? A person? A situation? The idea of this blog is to discuss how the concept of acceptance in recovery initially focuses on a very particular aspect of one’s life and then gradually progresses outwards until acceptance is being utilized throughout all aspects of that person’s life.
Early recovery (the first 3-12months or longer, depending on the person) the question often arises “Why me?” People tend to be hyper-focused on understanding why they were blessed with the disease of addiction. They mull over and revisit every decision they have ever made that could have possibly led them to the quandary they are currently finding themselves in. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous (a support group based around the 12-steps) who have encountered these people that are questioning the reasoning behind their alcoholism would typically introduce the concept of acceptance as an indirect answer to their query. Often these ‘newcomers’ are suggested to read page 417 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, which states:
“Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my 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 in my attitudes”
After reading such a compelling paragraph, the hope is that a person realizes the triviality in the how or why they ended up where they are. The hope (regardless of whether you belong to a 12-step program, SMART recovery group, or no support group at all) is for an epiphany to occur within the person so they may assume the realization that; it does not matter how or why you became an addict/alcoholic. It only matters that you recognize that you have this disease and now have an opportunity to make the positive changes that are necessary to counteract the behaviors associated with being an addict/alcoholic. You can ask yourself “what can I change today to make myself better for tomorrow?”
As this light bulb brightens, the person realizes that asking oneself “why me?” is useless. They realize it doesn’t help them make any progress in their recovery to question why they are the way they are, but on the contrary, it keeps them stuck in the past, searching for answers they may never find. With the above excerpt from the AA Big Book in mind, the key to the path of serenity lies in the acceptance of your situation and the faith that what you are currently experiencing is an opportunity for growth.
Outward and Onward
Take a second to imagine a small dot on a page. Surrounding this dot is a circle, and then surrounding that circle is another larger circle, and then another one. Picture this image with a total of 4 circles surrounding the small dot in the center. Now let the dot in the center represent your addiction.
I believe that acceptance is an ability, not an action. Like any other abilities we possess, acceptance gets easier to utilize with practice.
Ok now, back to the dot with circles around it. If the small dot in the center represents our addiction, the surrounding circles will represent portions of our life, whether it be family, work, acquaintances, or everyday situations we find ourselves in. Each growing circle represents a larger portion of our life. Now, imagine if you took a dropper filled with blue-colored water and dropped it on the paper right over the dot. The more drops you apply to the paper, the further out the liquid would spread eventually spreading outward enough to consume all of the circles, turning the dot and each surround circle blue. So, if the center dot is our addiction, and the surrounding circles represent increasingly important aspects of our life, let’s let the blue liquid we dripped on the page represent serenity.
If my statement above, in italics, regarding acceptance and practice is accurate, then the more we practice the concept of acceptance in our life, the more we would be able to apply it to different aspects of our life. Just like the appropriately named blue liquid, serenity should begin to spread throughout our life as a direct result of applying the acceptance principle to our daily undertakings.
I want to mention a quick blurb regarding faith. (*I am not talking about any specific religion and hope to keep this blurb completely nondenominational.) A crucial component of mastering acceptance and applying it to your daily life requires a certain level of faith. Who are these people telling you to learn acceptance while you are in your most emotionally raw state? How do they know it will work for YOU? Learning acceptance in early recovery requires a certain level of blind faith. It requires you to have faith in the fact that; if you put your all into your recovery, you will feel better slowly but surely. This requires a blind leap, trusting those around you, whom of which you barely know, yet have previously conquered early recovery through the same blind faith that is being asked of you now. Faith is not something that we can see nor is it something we can feel. Faith is trust. Trust that if you put in the effort to accept your situations as being exactly the way they should be at that moment, you will be alright.
The theory here is that acceptance progresses throughout a person’s recovery. At first, it starts as the blind leap of faith that you can let go of your past and become comfortable with the fact you have a problem. You learn to accept your problem and become willing to work towards a solution. After this challenging task is conquered, we begin to apply that same acceptance principle to our daily life, the people we love, etc…until we are suddenly utilizing acceptance as a reflex response to all of our problems. Of course, this theory represents an ideal and acceptance will not always be our first reaction, but with enough practice, it can become one of our most powerful tools we apply to our everyday lives to help us find serenity in even the toughest of situations.
Some claim acceptance is the key to a happy life. Some say it is the most important instrument that they have learned throughout the recovery process. My point is:
“Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”
The important thing in all of this is that you seek help for your drug addiction. Do not let fear keep you from the life you have always wanted. You do not need to fight this disease alone and any and all concerns that you have can be addressed as you move through the process of recovery. So call the professionals at Evolutions Treatment Center today, at 1-866-771-7091. We are standing by to help you finally overcome your addiction.