Accepting Acceptance
by Boyd Martin

acceptance Carlos Castaneda quoted his shaman-mentor, Don Juan, "A warrior takes his lot, whatever it may be, and accepts it in ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as grounds for regret but as a living challenge."

True acceptance itself requires humility, because true acceptance is about accepting the reality of one's self, one's situation, and one's gifts, unimpaired by the illusions of ego. The challenge is twofold: 1. Seeing one's true situation, and 2. Applying one's gifts, talents and resources to the change or maintenance of that position.

Acceptance as a concept and a self-transformative tool is deeply regarded by warriors because without a true and accurate assessment of a challenge, stupid mistakes occur, lives could be lost, and dishonor possibly brought to all.

I remember reading (twice) the James Clavell novel classic, Shogun, as a young man. To me, the main theme of the series was acceptance. The samarai rejoices at the lowest point of his life, because the only way to go is up. This tenet served me well during a time in my life where I had lost my home, my friends, my wife and my self-respect.

I kept resisting my situation, never fully able to accept what was happening to me. I kept saying, "I can't believe this is happening," and that was the problem. Finally, after my wife attempted suicide, my "friend" had thrown all our possessions out on the lawn of her house that she had been allowing us to stay to get on our feet, and I was spending the night in a tent, digging for potatoes in their garden potatoes in order to have something to eat, it dawned on me. "There is no lower I can go, so things have to go up from here." And, it all became clear to me--my attitude of denial, my insistence of rightness, my unwillingness to reach out, my blindness to my own power, and most importantly, my victimhood.

It was not a pretty picture, but it was an accurate one, and brought a certain kind of relief. The next day, my wife was out of the hospital, we had a place to stay, we had food for two weeks, and I found a job--the result of seeing my situation for what it was, and taking the next obvious move to change it.

Without this perception of acceptance, it's easy to stumble around, blaming "life" for everything that happens that "shouldn't be happening." As I've matured, I cherish those moments when I catch myself saying that. It's happening because it should be happening, since I created it on some level.

Without fully accepting an untenable situation, it effectively blocks the imagination from delivering you from the situation. Because there is no perceived "problem," and because it "shouldn't be happening," then there is no reason to kick the imagination in gear to figure out a change. Additionally, once acceptance has occurred, perceptions improve, and opportunities to change the situation suddenly show up, and oftentimes that had always been there--you just couldn't see them.

There's another very basic value in acceptance, and it has to do with the physics of manifestation. The as yet unseen, unaccepted condition creating the situation becomes polarized against its own resolution. There are, in effect, two colliding realities being created and things grind to a halt: 1. The reality of a living, expanding, and fulfilled life, and 2. The exact denial of that life, the "this can't be happening life." So, you have equal and opposing forces caused by a lack of awareness, caused by denial.

On the other side of having finally accepted one's true situation in life, there is a tremendous amount of relief and (dare say it) comedy. In fact, many comedians pull much of their humor from human denial and behaviors of people in non-acceptance. An example:


Scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to launch standard 4 pound dead chickens at the stationary windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, mimicking all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the British engineers.

When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest in two, and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin, like an arrow shot from a bow.

The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the U.S. scientists for suggestions.

NASA responded with a one-line memo...

"Defrost the chicken."

Had the British engineers fully accepted the fact that they were using a frozen chicken in the experiment, common sense would have prevailed, which brings us back to one of the properties of acceptance: increased common sense. When a previously denied reality is revealed, solutions for changing that reality are easily seen.

Do you have unresolved, recurring, stuck conditions in your life that have been resistant to change? Use acceptance to begin the change process.

  • Honestly assess the situation by looking at it through the eyes of another person or a being from another planet.
  • Observe when the situation is a problem, and when it is not.
  • Look to see how other people are involved, and how they would be if the siuation changed.
  • Really look to find the "pay off" you are getting by continuing the situation.
  • Look at what excuse you've been using to avoid the discomfort of the discovery of its true nature.
This takes humility and honesty and no small amount of courage, but those features become much easier to acquire by doing this: Drop down into your heartspace--imagine yourself moving downward to the middle of your chest. By doing this, it automatically ceases internal chatter, and allows you to see with greater clarity and insight. The heartspace also has the property of acceptance built into it, so you're there already without having to launch the frozen chicken.