Accept But Don’t Settle

In spiritual circles there is a lot of talk about acceptance and surrender. The idea is solid enough: By accepting what is actually happening and surrendering the idea of changing this current moment, one can release a large amount of needless stress. By ceasing the struggle with what is, our resources are freed up for taking what action we can. The flip side is that by not occupying our minds with something which is not actually occurring (like worrying about bad news, or what might happen in an upcoming meeting) we can use that energy instead to skillfully deal with the situation at hand.

The above points are very good, as far as they go. The danger comes when acceptance crosses over into settling. Acceptance is when you understand a situation cannot be changed in the moment. Settling is when you know you want something better & you know it’s possible, but you decide not to do what it takes to get it. Acceptance is necessary when your time would be wasted in struggling against something. Settling is an abandonment of your capacity to choose. Acceptance frees your power up to do what is useful. Settling always means getting less than you deserve.

Settling is what can happen when you take the act of acceptance to an extreme. From there it is a slippery slope into the victim role.

The funny thing is, settling is kind of the opposite of acceptance. Acceptance is about the current moment. It’s about what is actually the case. It is not about the future since the future isn’t actually happening, and therefore there is nothing about the future to accept. Settling is all about the future. By settling you assume that what is happening now will also be the situation in time to come. That is silly thinking.

Settling is about giving up. Acceptance is about surrender. Those are two very different things. When you surrender, you deal with whatever is as it is. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a change. Surrender just means that you start to┬áchange things from what is actually the case, and you pursue the change that is currently possible. When you give up, you no longer take action. Having given up, you drop hope and don’t bother to help yourself.

Life throws us curve balls. That’s part of its charm. When it does, we can choose to accept the situation and deal with those curve balls as they are. Or, we can settle for what happens to us and not bother to try.

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