To Accept, Or Not To Accept
by Debra Lynn Dadd
Recently, in my own life, I have begun to notice that there are many words that I think I understand, but really don't. And some words have a lot of emotional energy attached to them, which affects what I think the meaning is, when it really is quite something
else. "Acceptance" is one of those words, as I found when I began to write this article.
To accept, by definition, is to agree to something and thereafter be bound to act in accordance with it. Indeed, there is a legal definition to this effect, but even in everyday life, if I accept something, that means I am willing to have it. To accept can also be to
receive willingly, to give approval to, to endure without protest or reaction, to regard as normal or inevitable, to recognize as true, to agree to take. The root of the word is from the Latin acceptare, from ad- + capere, to take.
What is not included in this definition is that things can be accepted with a whole range of feelings, from acceptance by defeat, to accepting something because one thinks it cannot be changed, to accepting something with resignation because one feels
nothing can be done about it, to joyfully accepting love, a victory, or acknowledgement of work well done.
And I also seem to have some degree of honesty attached to this word...the possibility that one might accept a gift, for example, with thanks and a smile, even if one doesn't like it, showing acceptance, but not actually having it.
The other side of acceptance is rejection, which, by definition, is the refusal to accept, submit to, or take for some purpose or use. The root of the word is from the Latin rejectus, from re- + jacere, literally to throw away from
I have in my mind the idea that as a "good" person, I am supposed to be "accepting" and allow things to be as they are...that I shouldn't reject people or ideas...that "acceptance" is good and "rejection" is bad.
But...all impressions aside, and looking only at function, both acceptance and rejection are vital to life, for they are the very anatomy of choice--the ability to select that which is preferable for a particular reason or purpose.
If we only accept and never reject, there can be no change. Even with something as mundane as housework, we can see the necessity of rejection. We accept the window, and reject the dirt. We accept the tender tips of asparagus for soup and reject the woody
stems to the compost pile. We accept the warm sweater and reject the package to the garbage can. Without rejection, our homes would be full of garbage to the ceiling and falling out the windows!
Acceptance and rejection is used throughout Nature to sustain life. A winter storm accepts the living tree and rejects its dead leaves to make way for spring growth. The immune system in my body accepts nourishing foods and reject viruses that cause
disease. A bird accepts ripe fruit to eat and rejects fruit that is not yet ripened.
A sculptor draws out a form from the clay or marble by rejects bits of material until the accepted form takes shape. As a writer, I hone my communication by accepting that which expresses my ideas most clearly, and reject words that don't get the idea
across. An actor accepts being a character, and rejects anything that isn't that character.
Within ourselves, we can accept those qualities we wish to have and cultivate, and reject those characteristics that are less desirable to us. We can make all kinds of changes in our minds and bodies through acceptance and rejection. We can accept
kindness and reject cruelty. We can accept foods that lead to our bodies being healthy, and reject those that don't. We can accept our own goodness, and reject pain and sorrow.
Basically, we create our lives through accepting what we want and rejecting what we don't want. What happens when we accept something is that we take it, we have it, we go into agreement that is it OK. What we are, what we have, what our world is, is that
which we accept. And since that is the case, we can accept that which contributes to the wellbeing of ourselves and the world at large, and reject that which doesn't. We can always make a choice to accept that which will lead to a result that we want, and reject that which
doesn't lead to the result we want.
Some years ago, my husband and I had quite a conversation about this idea of "accepting someone as they are." He said, "I don't want you to accept me as I am. I want you to accept all the good I am as a spiritual being, but I don't want you to accept my
pain and doubts and fears and flaws. I want you to help me get through anything that is keeping me from being myself as a spirit, so I can be more free and express what I really am."
And that has been our agreement since: to accept--to be in agreement with and take--the good in each other and not accept--not be in agreement with and discard--that which is not our highest good.
Looking at myself and others, it seems that too often we accept as inevitable or unchangeable many things that don't support life which we could change, if we made an intention to change and took the actions that resulted in that change. When we
accept things as they are, they tend to stay the same, or even get worse, if they are already headed in that direction.
An issue I'm going through right now has to do with the availability of pure foods. About a month ago, I made a decision to eat even more foods that are organic or better. In the process I realized that some years ago, when organic foods were not so
widely available, I "accepted" foods containing pesticides because I could buy no others. And I fell into simply accepting the inadequacy of our food supply. Now, I am no longer willing to accept pesticides in my food and I'm taking another, more detailed look at what I am
eating and what foods are available to me. I'm not only shocked that natural food stores have so little organic food where I live, but also that they are selling so much food still in toxic styrofoam containers, and cans that leach bisphonol-A, a known endocrine disruptor,
into the food in the can. But I'm not just accepting this. I'm searching out local organic farms, and talking to the store owners, to let them know there are alternatives to styrofoam. I reject toxic food and the standards by which I accept food for my body are getting higher
I've learned that I don't need to accept everything, but I do need to be able to experience anything, and that is quite different. To experience something is to be able to be there and observe that something is as it is as a basis of knowledge. If
I can see something clearly as it is, then I can understand it, and make a choice to accept it or reject it.
There are many things in this world I do accept...love, beauty, creativity, order, peace, abundance, health, and many other things that bring me joy as a spiritual being. I have accepted these things by choice, and I know they are mine.
© Copyright 2008 Debra Lynn Dadd.
All Rights Reserved.
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Debra Lynn Dadd has
been a leading consumer advocate in the field of health and
the environment since the early 1980s. She was the first to
comprehensively write about toxic chemicals in common
household products in language meant for consumers, which
created a demand for the many nontoxic products we find on
the market today.
Beginning with her first
self-published book in 1980, Debra's various books have been
continuously in print for twenty-five years. Her book Home
Safe Home is the definitive guide to toxic exposures in the
home and safe solutions. She also publishes Debra's List--a
free online directory of 100s of links to 1000s of products
with health and environmental benefits--and three free
online newsletters: Health, Home, and Habitat, a weekly
recipe using natural sweeteners, and Words of Wisdom--a
daily quotation on nature or spirit. She has been a regular
contributor to Natural Home & Garden magazine since it's
Hailed "The Queen of
Green" by the New York Times, Debra has appeared on
many radio and television shows including Geraldo and the
Today show. She was featured on the cover of East West
Journal (now Natural Health magazine) and Yoga Journal.
Please visit Debra's
website at www.dld123.com.