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Why is Acceptance so Hard to Accept?

The waves and whitecaps make the bay outside my office window feel like an angry ocean.  The wind is howling and blowing the snow sideways with incredible force.  And yet, in the middle of this powerful Nor’easter, the seagulls are still flying around, barely flapping their wings.  So inspired by this scenario, I burst into song…

“Let it go, let it go

I am one with the wind and sky

Let it go, let it go

You'll never see me cry

Here I stand and here I stay

Let the storm rage on…”

…at which point the cats, Barney and Ozzy, give me a side-eye and leave the room.

OK, fine boys, “the cold never bothered me anyway”!

No matter how much I think about it and want to do it, learning to accept and let it go, isn’t that easy to do. 

nancy mendelson hertelier

In her article for Verywellmind, author Arlin Cuncic, MA, tells us that, “Some people have a hard time accepting situations because they feel as though acceptance is the same thing as being in agreement with what happened or saying that it is OK. In other cases, people don’t want to acknowledge the pain that would come with acceptance.”

To that point, only recently I realized that I had confused acceptance with acquiescence, which may have contributed to my resistance. I don’t much like the feeling of acquiescing…and here’s why:   “Acquiescence is passive, submissive; it is often a quiet, desperate defeat, a repression of one’s emotions, which can lead to resentment and passive aggressive behavior,” says Psychoanalyst, Virgil Roberson. “Acceptance, on the other hand, can be described as a surrender to reality that, in turn, empowers us to remain true to who we are.  In finding acceptance, we allow change to enter our lives rather than trying to deny its power over us.”

Understanding this distinction, you’d think acceptance would come easier…instantaneous, even, simply because we want to achieve it.  You’d think…and yet it still takes work. 

nancy mendelson hertelier

In her article for Psychology Today, "How to Practice Acceptance," Tchiki Davis Ph.D. tells us, “To be more accepting, it can be helpful to reflect on your habitual attitude towards yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you ever speak harshly to yourself about a perceived mistake you made or an embarrassing thing you said? 

  • Are you ever feeling overwhelmed with emotion, and on top of everything, frustrated with yourself for feeling this way? 

  • How might you be able to take a more understanding and gentle attitude towards yourself?

Davis then goes on to offer (and explain) these 5 ways to cultivate acceptance…

  • By noticing your resistance

  • By questioning your patterns

  • By being mindful

  • By thinking of your inner child

  • Through practice

You can also try singing, which I often find can be very liberating!

“Let it go, let it go!

And I'll rise like the break of dawn

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand in the light of day

Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!”


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Accepting that some things just hurt. Trying to let the past go.

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