Acceptance – What Does It Really Mean?

Acceptance is a willful and courageous action. It’s an active dialogue, there is nothing passive about it. It’s not a fleeting thought. It’s a hard commitment, and that’s why it’s so difficult. You can’t fake acceptance; your mind won’t let you. You’ve heard this word over and over again. It’s part of the Serenity Prayer which is the foundation of your recovery.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”

You know it’s important, but do you know what it really means? Let’s take a deeper look into acceptance. If you have a clearer vision of the meaning, it might help you on your journey to achieving it. 


When you really want to dissect and understand something it’s always best to start with definitions and explore from there. The first definition from the English Oxford Dictionary is a great starting place.

It defines Acceptance as Willingness to tolerate a difficult situation.

The important part to focus on is that acceptance is a willful act. In other words, it’s a choice. The ability to make choices is really what makes us human and so incredible. No animal makes choices like us, they just do what their instincts tell them to do. Us humans can change the direction of our lives dramatically by simply making a willful choice.  

The First Part of Acceptance

To achieve acceptance, you first must acknowledge what exists.  How can you accept that there’s a problem if you don’t even know there’s a problem? Or are unwilling to see the problem? This is called denial and is a natural obstacle that stands in the way of acceptance. It’s the first hurdle, and often times the biggest hurdle you must jump on your road to recovery.  The wonderful thing is, once people jump that hurdle and open their eyes and speak the words of what is, they have gained enormous strength.

If you’ve joined a help group you’ve jumped the denial hurdle already, otherwise, you wouldn’t have even joined. You may be tempted to go back and deny reality, but your mind already knows that you’ve acknowledged reality and won’t let you forget. This is the great thing about our subconscious mind. It’s always sending us messages, important information. The more we listen, the wiser we become. 


Acceptance is Transformation

Ultimately when you truly accept something you undergo a transformation. The structures of your brain literally change. New neurons and networks are formed; you literally physically transform.  That’s pretty cool. We’re powerful beings in this sense. The most powerful we know of. This speaks to the saying “Write your own life story or somebody will write it for you, and you might not like the ending.” You have the power to author the story of your life. No matter your past, you can change your future. But you must first accept your past – this is the thing the Serenity Prayer hints at. Accepting the past allows you to write a new future. The great thing is the transformation takes place at the moment of acceptance. Once you’re able to truly accept you transform, and start your new journey. You’ll continue to transform as you progress, hopefully for the remainder of your life. Continual transformation toward the good is the journey of life. It’s what leads to happiness.

Acceptance is THE critical stepping stone to a better life. Knowing what it is, is the first part of moving forward to the life you deserve.



Serenity offers gender specific treatment and provides specialized groups related to life skills, relapse prevention and spiritual concepts.

NEED HELP? ➡︎ (901) 521-1131

Share this...