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Acceptance:- Why is it so important?

Profoundly known as the 5th, final and certainly the most difficult stage to attain in the stages of grief, Acceptance is a universal aspect of our lives.

I am going to be brutally honest in this blog as well as the ones I write in the future, especially about various elements of life and society that are intertwined and need attention. My blog ‘addressing the incomprehensible’ was basically the foundation for articles like this one; while reading this post, many of you might feel that I’m sharing too much or that I’m unaware of the concept of censorship. Censorship while discussing crucial topics like acceptance is nothing but hesitation, ignorance and negligence to accept the truth, the reality.

In this article, whatever I say is my point of view, my way of thinking. I am not pressuring or urging anyone to act similarly just because I said or did so. I think simply beginning a conversation on such a sensitive subject instils a feeling of taboo or awkwardness amongst people. If a single person feels motivated, or someone decides to change their long-lasting perceptions and accept what is, or even if one of you just feel positive, refreshed, calm or that at least someone is listening to you, then the purpose of the blog will be met and there’s nothing else I want.

My personal dealings with Acceptance

After my accident, I was constantly asked the same questions on a daily basis for almost six months- “How did you handle all this? How can you be so jovial lying in bed, not being able to sit up straight? It must’ve been gruesome and too painful? Will you be able to walk again? Will your scars heal and fade? Will your leg look like it used to before the accident and plastic surgery?”
How? When? Will? At times I used to get puzzled listening to these questions because I never had these thoughts about myself or the situation. So many doubts, so much negativity and lack of faith. My picture below where I am 2 months post-op the superficial skin graft and 1 month post-op the Nerve transplant and graft will justify their questions but my goal was to recover as rapidly as I can. So I politely replied “The moment I accepted the reality of the situation I was in, all my fears of pain and suffering and doubts about the future vanished. I could focus on my recovery without any distractions.” This moment I mentioned came, albeit unknowingly, on my 3rd day in the ICU. I didn’t realize how my acceptance affected others until the doctors, nurses and orderlies of the hospital said that I was the calmest, best-behaved and most respectful patient they had ever handled. They actually pushed their shifts and came to wish me luck on the day I was discharged. 
A year has passed and anyone who knows me well can confirm this- I never complain or get irritated about anything; complaining is not acceptance, it is ignorance towards reality. Even today as I am recuperating, I say to myself and my family- “This is the reality. It is what it is. I have accepted it. There’s no use in playing “what-if” games. Now I will completely focus on my recovery and come out in better shape physically as well as mentally than the one I was in before this incident.”

This is me 1 week into physiotherapy. Before this I couldn't even sit-up straight by myself.

The tension between society and acceptance

I have been reading the book 7 Habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey for the second time after 7 years and the first chapter itself describes this tension between society and acceptance. The problem that the society has in accepting anything be it new or old, traditional or modern, conventional or otherwise is the hard-wired perceptions we have about everything. During our upbringing, we were influenced by many people; family and friends, teachers, the media, the television and film entertainment industries. After a lifetime of living and growing with these SET perceptions, we see and believe things differently. So, when we are faced with the task of accepting something that is beyond the comprehension of our perceptions, we tend to instantly reject them.

A recent conversation with one of my best friends regarding the LGBTQIA community in India and how the country’s Supreme Court decriminalized and lifted the ban (I.P.C Section 377) on same-sex relationships gave me an insight about acceptance. As we were chatting, I said that this decision made by the government was a big step towards positive changes in society and the country. I am glad that the ban was lifted. Now, before we proceed further, I would like to mention that I respect my friend, his thoughts and views and the same applies to him. And we’re back in; he said that he couldn’t comprehend how or why a person would like or even want to be with someone of the same sex? It just felt too weird and awkward to him. He then asked me if I was accepting of these relationships. Waiting for him to fire his next question, I said that I not only accept but I support the community. His next question was a type of test to see whether I was actually telling the truth or was just a phony supporter; he asked “what if someone close to you, say your sister approached you and came out to you as a lesbian? What would you do? Will you accept her?” It was a fair question and I didn’t get angry or offended. I calmly said “yes, of course! She is my sister, her sexual orientation/preferences won’t change that and I will stand by her side through thick and thin. I have no doubt about that. As for the reactions of others at home, I am unaware of their point of view but I won’t let anyone harm or belittle my sister.”

The effect of acceptance in cases of mental illnesses

Living in India, I haven’t met many people who have mental health disorders like ADHD/ADD, BPD, DID/MPD, anxiety and depression. So, either there aren’t as many cases in India or these people are out there struggling on their own. Other mental illnesses like epilepsy and autism clearly project themselves through the patient’s demeanor.
Here, acceptance must come from both sides. Family members, relatives, friends, and society need to accept and understand the gravity of the situation, but the patient’s acceptance of his/her condition is paramount. One needs to accept that they are suffering from something and that keeping it hidden, not seeking help or treatment is eating them up. I have seen how people treat those suffering from autism or epilepsy; they literally try to put them down by undermining and criticizing each and every aspect of their life.

Being bedridden for 5 months and confined at home for 11, I have become quite active on twitter and here’s where I learned about the severity of these mental health issues in greater depth and how the dismissal of such matters can lead to extreme and perilous outcomes like violence or self-harm. I began studying the aforementioned issues, the stressors that cause the patients pain and how the stigma of the society, its ignorance towards these matters is affecting them. Mental health writers and advocates like Rebecca Burke (HERE is her travel & mental health blog. It’s quite inspiring. Do check it out!), as well as famous athletes like Michael Phelps who overcame depression and anxiety are supporting the cause. Just reading and listening to their experiences is motivation enough, at least for me, to reach out to those struggling with these problems and lend them some help, doesn’t matter how. 

This is a beautiful prayer recited in the Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings:-
"Lord, give me the courage to change the things that can and ought to be changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed; and the wisdom to know the difference."

Acceptance is important because:

·       It brings people closer than ever

·       Building personal and professional relationships becomes easier

·       Widens your horizon and changes your thought process

·       You get a complete understanding of any situation because you listen  

·       Dealing with challenges and difficult situations becomes less stressful

The obstacle in the path towards accepting anything is that we never want to listen. Sure, we hear what others have to say, but hearing and listening are two completely different activities. I have made some changes in my life that have helped me accept certain concepts that I previously neglected. It is a good feeling as it opens your mind to new things and newer possibilities.

Do you think Acceptance plays a predominant role in our day-to-day life? What has your experience been in dealing with it?


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