There is an amazing section at the end of the Big Book (the foundational book of the 12-Step Program), where an alcoholic, who had been through a lot in life, writes that acceptance was the solution to all his problems. He claims that acceptance was the key to his sobriety, and that it totally changed his relationship with life, his spouse and with God:
“When I am troubled, it’s because I’ve encountered something in my life – a person, place, or situation — that is unacceptable to me. I only find peace when I accept that also this is something that has to be exactly so at this moment. Nothing happens in God’s world by accident.”
Learning acceptance is crucial for anyone trying to recover from addiction. Actually, the first step of our program is accepting your problem and accepting that you need help.
Recently I saw these amazing photos from the Paralympic games – the Olympics for handicapped people. I saw people missing limbs compete in high jump, swimming and running! This was an incredible lesson for me about the power of acceptance.
There can be two people in the exact same situation, both having lost their legs in an accident. They are both saddened by their loss, and neither find it easy. But, what matters is what they choose to do. One of them accepts the fact that he’s not going to grow new legs. The other cannot come to terms with his situation. One of them accepts the fact that he is handicapped and decides to compete in the Paralympics, using prosthetic legs of steel, while the other sits at home, weeping over his bitter fate.
I am not claiming that with enough willpower we can change any reality. Actually, acceptance is the opposite of that. Acceptance recognizes the limits of our personal strength, and gives us an enormous push to act within those limitations. A person missing a hand is handicapped for life, whether he accepts it or not. But, with acceptance he may end up competing in the archery games in the Paralympics, holding the bow with his one hand and drawing back the arrow with his teeth, or doing anything else in life he puts his mind to.
I’ve got a pornography problem. That’s a fact, whether I accept it or not. The question is — what am I going to do about it?
Accepting it means I recognize my limitations. It also gives me the clarity to take action within my limits in order to help myself. For one person this may mean he will filter his smartphone; for another it may mean joining a PA live group. Acceptance empowers me to lead my life the best way possible; and to put an end to my suffering.
The choice is mine.