Acceptance is the Key to Recovery… and Living a New Life!
“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” – AA Big Book
When I first came into recovery, I believed and said I wanted peace and serenity in my life. But my actions, my behavior showed otherwise. I was at odds with the police, the legal system, my dad, my significant other… and truth be told, myself! Why? Because I did NOT accept “people, places and things” as they were… in fact, I wanted everyone and everything to be different right now, so as to conform to my will and how I wanted things to be!
What working the 12 Steps with my sponsor helped me to eventually realize was how my demands that people and situations change were keeping me in a state of constant conflict. And when I say “constant,” I mean perpetual: there was NO peace and serenity in my life, only wave after wave of anger, frustration, anxiety and fear rising and falling in my soul. (Along with a core-level emptiness, too.)
I remember the day I heard that phrase: “Acceptance is the key to recovery.” It was like someone had pulled open the door to my jail cell and told me I was free to go. Because it finally made sense to me that I had/have a choice: I can either struggle to try and change everybody and everything in my world OR I can accept this person just as they are or this situation just as it is – without wishing for them/it to be different.
As I’ve continued to practice accepting people and things as they are, I’ve found deeper levels of peace and serenity growing in my heart and soul. And I like being more easy-going. I may not get along with everyone I meet, but by keeping the principle of acceptance front and center in my life, I tend to have a healthy, humane response to people, rather than regularly ending up in arguments, fights and bitterness (as I’d done in the past). Similarly, when “things” aren’t going the way I’d like, when I practice acceptance, I’ll typically navigate through those challenges with less anxiety, more forbearance and better decision-making.
Ultimately, peace and serenity are more of a choice than I’d ever imagined… and acceptance really is the key!