Acceptance Is the Answer to Every Problem We Have
By Karen Casey
For millions of people worldwide, there is no selection of words more significant than the nine that serve as the title of this article. They are the blueprint for a sober, sane life, according to the “The Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. They offer hope for a sustained sobriety, hope for a path to peaceful living, and hope for the instantaneous quiet moment that we all crave. However, “acceptance as the answer” goes far beyond the lives of the many millions of people who are practicing AA principles.
The power wrapped within acceptance “as the answer” is an available shortcut to a life peacefully lived when practiced by anyone, anywhere. All people and all situations that trouble anyone can disappear in the blink of an eye when “accepted as perfect” the way they are. Whatever had been troubling you simply dissipates when the mind is changed and the decision to accept the situation or person as perfect in this one moment is finally made. And it’s a decision that always beckons. Always. Unfortunately, it’s a decision too often ignored.
Why is it so hard to embrace a solution that holds such promise for every problem one will ever face? Perhaps it’s simply too hard to believe that a very few words have the capacity to change, literally transform, the mood of anyone, let alone millions of people. Maybe it simply seems too implausible, but it isn’t. Not at all. Millions daily are watching their lives change as the result of making this one tiny shift in their own perception. Giving up all those situations that seem beyond one’s control, turning them over to a Power far greater than oneself, a Power that may not even be understood or believed in, offers results when tried. The shift in consciousness is instantly, deeply palpable. In a sense, the inner quiet that results is reminiscent of John Lennon’s song, “Give Peace a Chance.” Everything changes when one person initiates the change.
People who try to control others—and many readers may fall into this category—are definitely the largest group of individuals who inhabit the planet, and they will never meet with success. Never ever. People will do what they choose regardless of the pleas made by parents, friends, spouses, even colleagues. That’s simply a fact of the human condition. And the more quickly it’s accepted by all who have their hearts set on successfully changing someone else, the sooner peace will prevail in the life of the one who is trying so hard to change a person who doesn’t wish to change.
It’s a far easier decision to choose to live unattached to the whims that are the driving force of others. In fact, detaching from the behavior of everyone but ourselves is the only clear journey to peace of mind. Detaching from others is clear evidence of accepting those others for who they are. It doesn’t mean lack of love. Not at all. It doesn’t mean disinterest in the life of the other person either. Detaching simply means, “You are free to live as you choose, with no interference from me.” It might even be considered an honest expression of real love.
Reaching that level of acceptance through the doorway of detachment changes everything in both lives—the life of the one who was intent on changing someone else, as well as the one who was under the microscope. Backing off, freeing not just oneself but ultimately everyone to make their own choices about life, guarantees the shift in perception that completely changes how one feels. To be at peace, wholeheartedly at peace, can only happen when one walks away from the nagging pull to try to change someone else.
Perhaps it sounds hard to embrace detachment so completely. Or maybe the idea of accepting everyone and everything as perfect at this moment in time seems a stretch too far. But millions have discovered the joy of peace of mind and it can be captured in no other way. Mother Teresa was quoted as saying: “Love everyone and start with the person standing next to you.” That so clearly defines acceptance. Deciding if someone is worthy of love misses the point completely. Loving everyone, according to Mother Teresa, means accepting everyone as she or he is at this very moment. No longer is there any reason to evaluate a person’s actions. Or judge a person’s opinions. Life is so much easier for everyone when acceptance becomes the decision the masses choose to abide by.
Certainly the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous weren’t the first to discover the power of acceptance. Jesus, too, said love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, judge not. Let people be as they are. And Buddha, centuries before Jesus, knew that happiness was an inside job. Obviously, trying to change others is not the pathway to peace of mind. But acceptance of each person we encounter as being exactly as they are meant to be, in this moment, will give us the quiet solitude we seek. And it will give all those we encounter the freedom to be however they choose.
Walking away from the temptation to try to change someone else rather than accepting them, as is, is the pathway to freedom, to inner peace, to sustained joy and relief. It’s a decision that beckons to us always. Take notice.
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About the Author
Karen Casey, PhD, has more than 45 years as an active member in AA and Al-Anon. Her work as a writer and workshop leader has broadened to include books for people on any spiritual path. Her first book, Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women, was published in 1982. It has sold more than 3.5 million copies and has been followed by an additional 30 books. Her recent books have focused on relationships and how to live more peacefully within them, the most recent being Each Day a Renewed Beginning: Meditations for a Peaceful Journey.