The 5 A’s of Acceptance – the Bridge from the Inner Critic to Well-Being
Acceptance of one’s self – all that we love and all that we hate and all that we’re confounded by – is one of the essential steps to pushing back on the inner critic – that inner voice of negative self-talk that harshly judges/shames/blames us whenever we’ve messed up or fear we’ve messed up. [See Tired of Your Inner Critic? Here’s How to Retire It.]
Acceptance of others and all of life’s ups and downs – even when there’s love and hate and confoundedness – is one of the 8 pillars of inner well-being proposed by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in their Book of Joy. [See The Deep Joy That Transcends Anything]
Acceptance really is the practice that bridges our perception and response to life events from reactive and unskillful to pro-active and skillful. And I suggest there are 5 steps, 5 A’s, that help us do that.
1. Attention– even noticing what is happening and our reactions to what is happening. And if we form a negative opinion about either, noticing that.
2. Allowing – not doing anything in any one direction or another yet, simply making space for the event/reaction to be so that we can see it clearly, not from love or hate or confoundness.
3. Acceptance – Quoting from The Book of Joy, “In order to make the most positive contribution to this situation I must accept the reality of its existence.” Not denying, wishing otherwise, pretending something isn’t so. It is so. That acceptance is the turning point.
4. Assessment – a fancy word for discerning, evaluating, deciding what would be a wise and realistic response, both internally and externally.
5. Action – changing what can be changed; practicing more acceptance if not.
I’m not so good at acceptance myself. I tend to be a go-getter problem solver and struggle all the time with having the patience to practice acceptance, even some of the time. And yet, when I do manage to slow down and follow the 5 A’s, my choices do tend to come from a wiser, bigger picture and a more compassionate state of mind. And experiencing that encourages me to practice acceptance again and again, bridging my reactivity to more resilience, and thus more well-being and peace of mind.