Acceptance is not giving up.

I didn’t want to write about today’s word – acceptance.

For a split second I considered screwing up the piece of paper and throwing it in the bin. I wanted to pretend it wasn’t the word I had picked from the jar. But that would have defeated the purpose of my Out of the Jar project.

You see I have mixed feelings about the concept of ‘acceptance’.

On a positive note, accepting yourself and others for what they are is a powerful act.

That’s the kind of acceptance I fully embrace.

Then there’s the ‘accept those things I cannot change’ kind of acceptance.

This is a little harder for me but pretty darn important. The key is being able to identify first, ‘can this situation be changed, or not’.

I’m a pretty tenacious and mostly optimistic person, as well as a part-time control freak (I’ve been working on this, so I like to think I’m a little control-freaky than I used to be). So when I’m presented with something that can not be changed or fixed, my first instinct is to see it as more of a ‘challenge’ than an ‘impossibility’.

On the whole though, I’m getting better at recognising what can and cannot be changed.

Then there’s the other kind of acceptance. The one that comes hand-in-hand with grief.

When a situation doesn’t turn out the way you want or expected, or you suffer some kind of loss or failure, you’re encouraged to ‘accept’ what has happened, so you can move on.

But depending on the situation, moving on can be a heck of a lot more complicated.

Does accepting the situation mean that you aren’t recognising, remembering or in some cases honouring what happened or the loss? That by moving on you are betraying someone or something of importance? I have come to learn, via a rocky path, that the answer is no.

I watched an old West Wing episode recently where a trauma counsellor told a character that it was possible to remember what happened without reliving the trauma over and over.

Remember without reliving. I liked that.

What if your loss is a failure of some sort, does accepting mean you have to it give up? Does it mean you won’t succeed in the future? No it doesn’t. At least I don’t think it does.

Over the last 12 months I have come to learn (with a little help) that acceptance is accepting that what has happened, has happened. But for me it also means accepting that success in some areas of my life may be difficult (in fact far more difficult than for others) but not impossible. I accept that in some time in the future I may need to surrender some dreams, but I don’t need to accept it right now.

Accepting is not giving up. Acceptance, moving on, tenacity and remembering are not mutually exclusive for me.

Acceptance in its many forms is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. That is what I remind myself.

‘Acceptance’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my Out of the Jar project here

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PS This blog post is based on my personal experiences only. If anything I have written is an emotional trigger for you please contact a mental health professional for advice, or Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit

Kylie Fennell
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