The word accept is an interesting one. There is a lot of emotions that can be packed inside the meaning of that word. In fact, the word acceptance can be used to describe a particular emotional state. It's not a word found in the context of simple or easy tasks either. Being accepted into college is a time of joy and excitement but it was preceded by working hard in high school. Furthermore, accepting the facts of a difficult reality that we might find ourselves facing, is not an easy task. The loss of a loved one, experiencing a trauma, losing a job, going through a divorce, or realizing that your life is not going in the trajectory in which you hoped all require a high dose of acceptance. It rarely comes easily and for some, it doesn't ever come. 

For some, when faced with difficulty, they react in ways that hinder progress. For the purpose of this article I want to focus on one of the ways we hinder our own progress, and it starts long before we ever face difficulty of any kind. We don't build into our life, the idea of having to deal with something hard. We imagine, we get a job, a spouse, a child etc. but we don't ever think about the possibility that maybe life won't go that way. The image of having these things (certain job, certain salary, a spouse, etc.) becomes a certainty. But we need to learn to factor in other certainties. Such as, difficulty. Life will certainly be difficult at times. One great way to overcome difficulty and loss in the future is to realize now, that you will in the future. You can make room for these challenges and also create an image in your mind in which you will still be ok.

Accepting a difficulty begins long before difficulty strikes. Acknowledging that life is full of difficulty and having a plan to work through it gives us the opportunity to deal with it more effectively when it does strike. Experiencing difficulty doesn't mean that our life is bad or terrible unless you assign it that meaning. To explore the meaning a difficulty has in your life, try turning phrasing it in the form of an "I statement." For instance you might do something like this, "Because of this difficulty I am experiencing, I am ____________." Whatever word you put in the blank, study it. Test it to see if it is true. Ask your family and friend if that word you put in there is accurate.

Acceptance is hard. I don't want to give the impression that this article is the one way to work through a difficult time. In fact, there are many components to acceptance but I find this to be a helpful one.  

By: Nicholas Smith, LCPC