by Jeff Katowitz, LMFT, BSL
Acceptance tends to provide us with a map or path towards comfort and better health. Often times, what is on the other side of an uncomfortable event allows us to have a deeper and clearer understanding of what is ultimately important and valuable. As we begin a new year, there is a tendency to reflect back and evaluate what transpired during the previous year. We also examine and look forward to a new year, hoping to accomplish a series of goals, attend events and generally feel a sense of hope. We seek a “fresh start” or a new beginning. With great anticipation and yearning, we hope that our planning will yield experiences filling us with joy and satisfaction.
For many us, however, the previous year may not have been favorable. We may have experienced events or made poor decisions that leave us burdened with regret. To further our discomfort, we may focus on the new year with trepidation, anticipating that familiar negative experiences will resurface. There may be situations looming that we cannot avoid and therefore a “clean slate” outlook is diminished by what is on the horizon.
What if we were to simply say to ourselves “whatever the situation - we will deal with it”? Sometimes what we are facing is simply too stressful, and we become consumed by the thought of struggling in the future. Though a new year is likely to include events that are stressful (and this is highly likely), we will also be in situations that bring us joy and a high level of energy. Acceptance allows us to embrace what is right in front of us – the situation at hand – as we look at it and experience the situation for what it is.
Time and time again people will say that once they dealt with an undesirable situation, they felt “lighter,” “better” and an overall sense of relief. The definition of “acceptance” in the dictionary says “an action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.” We should look more closely at this definition and focus on the words “receive” and “offered”. Perhaps we can view the process of acceptance as “receiving an offering” free from judgment. This will then assist us in viewing undesirable situations as valuable information – as they provide us with a choice to see the experience in itself as containing substance and value. It is interesting to examine how, while most of us may feel burdened by having to confront and accept a particular circumstance, we may rather begin appreciating a process that ultimately can yield a positive outcome or, at a minimum, lead to growth.
Let us look ahead to the New Year through this lens of choice and possibility. Situations will arise that challenge us – and each presents us with an opportunity to set down our lens of burden and despair and instead pick up a new lens that invites growth, creation, and expansion.
Jeff Katowitz, LMFT, BSL is a licensed marriage and family therapist with his practice at The Resiliency Center in Flourtown. Jeff specializes in helping family systems in transition such as separation and divorce, blended families, and families with children and teens with diagnosed with autism. For more information on Jeff Katowitz, please call (215) 307-0055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.