How can we find peace in a world where there are events, behaviours, conditions, situations, etc... that occur in our lives, and our children’s lives, that sit very much outside of our control and can feel completely unacceptable, devastating and unfathomable?
I would encourage you to speak with your young people from their perspective as to what feels unacceptable to them in their lives at the moment, and perhaps help them apply some of the ideas below regarding acceptance which I have adopted from a recent article I was reading.
Irrespective of what underpins a particular therapy/counselling style, you will usually find acceptance or some form of acceptance at the center. Acceptance is a major part of life and learning to accept the unacceptable can sometimes bring great relief for those that are suffering. This suffering could be as a result of a death or loss, chronic ill-health, financial difficulty, relationship breakdowns, world news/devastating incidents or other trauma that has been experienced by ourselves or others.
Obviously, acceptance is not always an easy pill to swallow. In fact, some may observe that it acts counter to our instinctual behaviors. As humans, we generally strive for control and autonomy. Autonomy entails having a satisfactory degree of control in regards to one’s environment, life, and choices. It’s having perceived control over the decisions that ultimately lead you to reaching, maintaining, and upholding your values and sense of self. Unfortunately, in a cruel twist, we occupy an existence rife with moments of grief, helplessness, loss, and discomfort. It may feel as though we are unable to obtain the very thing we are programmed to seek. How is it possible to live comfortably in a world that seems to go against our natural instincts?
Much like everything else in life, acceptance requires practice and an understanding that acceptance is for your benefit and most likely others close to you! Accepting the situation or behaviour that sits outside of your control does not condone it nor make it less confronting.
Acceptance simply provides a mechanism for you to move past that situation and on with your life. Acceptance is growth. We need growth to create new pathways, new ways of being in the world, given whatever circumstances you are faced with. Being on a new path leads to the attainment of goals, values, and that sense of self and purpose that we all desire.
No one ever said or promised that life had to be fair or even remotely comfortable. Despite this, people manage to carry out happy and fulfilling lives. This is where the concept of acceptance comes in, to bring hope to an otherwise irrational/unacceptable existence. Despite the human brain being hardwired to demand control over our environment, acceptance is what allows us to maintain forward progress in life.