Acceptance Is Self-Care, Or Is It?

With the rise of mindfulness, there is so much needed dialogue and discussion given right now to the concept of acceptance.  Especially for women.  Acceptance of where you are in a single moment.  Acceptance of others.  Acceptance of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It's the ability to accept what happens in a single day, the good and the bad, and let it go.  To move on. 

Acceptance is Self Care

Acceptance of ourselves and a higher mindfulness in the moments we live in life is something that I believe in.  It's something that I talk to my kids about.  It's a grace that I allow myself….often.  Especially after a hard day.   Acceptance is absolutely a form of kindness, after all.

But, is there such a thing as too much acceptance?

 When does acceptance turn into the status quo?  When does comfortable become the opposite of reaching for the stars?  Of reaching for your dreams?

I am a believer in moderation.  Too much or too little of anything can produce the opposite result of your intention.  I believe that acceptance is no exception to this rule.

Too much acceptance can mean you don't push yourself to reach your goals.  Pushing yourself means being uncomfortable.  It means NOT accepting the status quo about your body or your fears or your anxieties.  It means going beyond what you think is possible.  It means doing something you never thought you'd be able to do. 

Don't get me wrong.  Acceptance of where you are in a certain moment is helpful.  It's necessary and needed in many instances.  It's required for everyone's mental health.  If you are always pushing yourself or others, then you are never relaxing.  It means you are never breathing in the moment and always looking for the next shiny object.

Acceptance is important. 

 But, I've struggled lately trying to figure out when acceptance is right or when I should be pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

For example, I'm out for a run this morning and it's my weekly speed workout.  It hits me that I'm tired and that I'm pushing.  But, I don't feel like I can push any more.  I can't get my legs to turn over.  I can't get my heartrate up anymore.  And, when I do, I can't handle the gasping it's causing in my lungs. 

What do you hear in that?   I can't.  I can't.  I can't. 

The question I had in that moment was - do I just accept where my body is right now?  Or, do I keep pushing?  On one shoulder, I hear fitness experts and runners (faster than me) in my head saying you get better when you keep pushing past the point of comfort - to the point where it IS hard.  On the other shoulder, I hear the self-care experts say - it's okay, you're pushing hard.  Maybe today is just not your day.

Well, then I was just confused.  I mean, which one do I listen too?  How do I know whether to keep pushing or just accept?

I ended up somewhere in the middle - pushing a bit, but not enough.  I knew I could've done more, so instead of feeling accepted I feel like I just gave up. 

Here's another example, but one where I didn't accept my current state.

Recently, my husband and I went to Colorado for our 10th anniversary.  It was incredible, partially because it unintentionally became a trip where I was facing my fears and pushing myself.  I was NOT accepting my fears. 

I'm afraid of rushing water and oceans, so we went white water rafting.  I'm afraid of heights, so we went rock climbing and did the Via Ferrata (where you hang off iron rods that have been soldered into the side of a cliff).

The rock climbing experience was especially memorable.  I knew I was going to struggle - I'm not strong enough.  I'll be up to high.  I'm going to fall.  I'll look silly.  I don't want to fail.  Oh, I had lots of excuses. 

So, I decided I was just going to accept where I was that day…and if I didn't make it to the top, it would be ok.  This was my frame of mind when I went up.  It was overwhelming.   It doesn't take much for my stomach to jump up into my throat when I'm at heights, so hanging off the side of an actual mountain required a whole lot of deep breathing and concentration.  When it got hard, I "accepted" that's where I was and came on down. 

But, again, this acceptance felt like giving up.

 The second time up I decided I didn't want to just accept where I was.  I wanted to see if I could actually make it.  It took me forever, but I slowly zigzagged my way up the mountain pausing where I needed too to collect myself and then kept on going.  That final push up the mountain was rough, but I made it.  All the way to the top. 

I didn't think I could actually do it.  It was SO exhilarating to have first given up and then actually made it to the top.  I had initially given myself permission to give up.  So, when I didn't give in to that permission a second time and pushed myself, I made it. And, it was such an incredible feeling.

I felt like I had when I finished my first marathon - this incredible feeling of accomplishment.  Of achieving something you never thought you could do.  It is a feeling EVERY person in this world should feel at regular points in their life.  This is the epitome of self-care and self-kindness. 

So, how do you know when to accept where you are?  Or when does acceptance become giving up.

I don't know the answer and would love to hear from you!