Acceptance really is a super power. Most of the time living with a chronic illness is hard. It is a journey into the dark unknown. A journey we did not want or plan for.
One of the hardest tasks in adapting to life changing illness is to get your head round the term ‘acceptance’: accepting that the illness is now an enduring part of life.
Most people struggle with this concept, because acceptance is frequently mistaken for submission, or giving up. The schema most of us hold is that giving up means ‘throwing in the towel’.
Culture itself increases the struggle. There is a false belief that to live fully we must be always pushing forward. Pushing forward usually means achieving and amassing, even if that pushing forward becomes harmful in some cases.
Yet acceptance of an illness, and of the impact it has on your life, is not giving up or submitting. In this case, acceptance is simply an acknowledgement that the disease or illness is there and, like it or not, it has an impact.
How Acceptance Can Change Your Outlook
The wonderful thing about acceptance is that when you reach it, a layer of suffering vanishes from the daily struggle. When you acknowledge the fact that an illness is present, instead of fighting against it, stress is lessened and some joy and autonomy returns. Now that is moving forward, and it can be a catalyst for growth.
This acknowledgement allows strategies to be developed to reduce the impact of the illness on both yourself and those close to you. Realistically, as well as lessening stress, you are gently but firmly taking control of your life, rather that coping with the extra pressure of fighting it.
Put simply, acceptance brings both freedom and peace. This is not a gloss-over. Chronic illness is very hard – often it is brutal – but acceptance paves the way to a different life, fully lived within the current reality. And if you wonder what a full life can mean in this sense, Psychology Today has some useful insight on living well with chronic illness.
Non-acceptance means a continued struggle with little chance of adjustment and a greater level of pain, physical and emotional.
Acceptance transcends hope or fear – it is simply seeing reality as it is.
Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).
If you’re looking to deal with pain management and negative thought patterns as part of your chronic illness, you may want to consider CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Click here to find out about CBT with Christine Tizzard Psychology.