The help skill of accept is all about being able to recognize the reality of your world, and accepting it for what it is. I learned in treatment that there are different levels of acceptance. We accept things because we like them; if someone compliments you on something, you accept it because it is flattering. We accept things that are neutral because we have no emotions attached to them. But, we have a hard time accepting averse things because there could be multiple negative emotions attached to them.
Here are some wise things from my skills notebook:
-The natural pain that results from our suffering will eventually lower in intensity if the reality that caused the pain is accepted as real
-Acceptance is acknowledging the reality of what is, what has been, making the conscious decision to accept that certain things are the way they are, certain people are the way they are, certain things that have happened are the way they are
-Once something is accepted, any problems involved with it can be solved easier
Throughout my battle with anorexia, it was so difficult to accept things.
One of the main forces that propelled me into starvation was two of my close friends completely leaving me with no reason. I did not want to accept that they were gone. I had so many great memories and I did not want to have to try to forget those all of a sudden. By not accepting that those two were not capable of being emotionally stable, I broke myself down so badly. Maybe if I had been able to accept the circumstances I could have worked toward putting them out of my mind, rather than dwelling on the situation, crying day in and day out and spiraling into a depression.
Upon my arrival at inpatient treatment at Remuda Ranch I did not want to accept that I was as sick as I was. Looking back at pictures, I see that I was one of the thinnest there, but I did not realize that when I was there. With that frame of mind set, I was reluctant to believe that I needed to drink as many nutritional supplements as my doctors told me. I refused to go to Arizona for their Remuda Life program-a step-down from inpatient to get me more prepared for life on my own- so I could get my weight to the ideal weight that was set for me. I know I did not maximize my time there, I know that for sure, because I could not accept what my doctors were recommending me to do.
Out of treatment, I could not accept the fact that I had to let things go, that I had to give up some of my control. I insisted on looking at my weight each time I went for my weigh-ins at my doctor. Working with my therapist, I was able to accept the fact that in order to gain my life back , I needed to follow my doctors’ orders. Learning to accept what is has helped me so much in my life after ED.
A study featured in the International Journal of Eating Disorders studied ideal characteristics that eating disorder patients look for in a therapist and treatment team. There were 38 women with anorexia nervosa aged 18-51. “Acceptance” was the first quality named.
Acceptance is a big part of my everyday life. It has helped me to become a more easygoing and laid-back person.
At school, I am learning to accept the fact that I can not expect myself to excel at everything. In high school it seemed like I was a jack of all trades, graduating with straight As. In college, I was expecting to make Dean’s List every semester. I did my first semester at Loyola, when I was taking basic classes. I also had no friends to interfere with my study and homework time. At Hood, I made Dean’s List my fall 2011 semester, but not my spring 2012 semester. I was crushed at first, immediately thinking I was stupid for missing the list by less than .1 GPA points. When I remembered that I was taking 18 credits full of difficult classes I was able to accept the fact that I don’t need a sheet of paper saying I earned a 3.5 GPA to know that I did well for what I had on my plate.
Making friends is difficult for me. I have a hard time opening up to people and accepting that some people just will not like me. A big problem of mine is wanting to please everyone at all times. I am still learning to accept that I can not spend my time with all my friends at once. I am accepting that not all my friends will get along, no matter how hard I try. I am accepting that I need to balance my time between my boyfriend and my friends.
Generally, I have to accept that I will make mistakes. I have to accept that things will not always go my way. I have to accept that I am not the same size for clothes as I used to be. I also accept that my quality of life is so much greater now that I am actually living. When you are able to accept things, you are able to move on from averse things so much quicker and I can appreciate things around me, rather than worrying all the time.
As a closing remark, acceptance is the first step in my recovery skills. It seems like a fairly simple thing to be able to do-accept things around you- but it can be surprisingly difficult sometimes. All it takes is determination and mindfulness that things will be out of your control and they will happen as they are meant to be.