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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Acceptance is Losing?

 

A close friend of mine, “Blanca,” recently sent me an Instagram reel in which an individual stated the following:

 

The person that challenge[s] you to be uncomfortable is the person that love[s] you the most. What you’ve been told for many years is that the person that love[s] you the most is the person that accept[s] you for who you are. How can I love you when I notice more that you can do, but I don’t push you? That can’t be love! [There’s] healthy ways of challenging. People need it. There are tons of people that don’t see that they can do more. They’ve accepted their fate. So they only attach their self to anybody that accept[s] them for being who they are. But the reason why you lose is because you’ve accepted who you are.

 

Emotionally manipulative music played in the background of the monologue and predictably comments on the video were mostly supportive of the message. One isn’t certain as to the intended meaning of Blanca’s shared reel, though I told her I’d like to write a blogpost to process my reaction regarding the content.

 

Predominately, I consider the reel through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). I didn’t used to retain this perspective, because at a different time in my life I would’ve agreed with the aforementioned person’s diatribe. For instance, in a blogpost entitled That’s Knot Friendship, I stated:

 

Years ago, I heard a quote attributed to Will Smith and applied it as a rigid prescription to my own life. The rapper reportedly stated, “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.”

 

I interpreted Smith’s quote to mean that I should, must, or ought to challenge other people—making them uncomfortable so that they could grow by pushing through the discomfort that came with my association. To me, that was what it meant to improve the lives of those I loved.

 

After all, I was adamantly opposed to the attitude stemming from a quote falsely attributed to Marilyn Monroe, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” That perspective is toxic, so I saw it as my personal responsibility to push others as a means of achieving growth.

 

Considering the fact that I’ve been behaving in this manner since having begun life coaching in the ‘90s, and practicing psychotherapy since 2011, I’d say I’ve challenged others quite a bit. Regarding this matter, I stated in a blog entry entitled In Terms of REBT:

 

1.I seek to help people push through discomfort so that they may grow.

 

2.Rather than helping clients feel better, I aim to help them get better.

 

3.I try to help people achieve a higher level of functioning and improved quality of life.

 

While I agree that discomfort is generally necessary in order to grow, I disagree with the notion that one cannot love another person unless the other individual’s full potential is realized. I can love a person irrespective of growth potential.

 

This is where my role as a personal point of contact diverges from that of a psychotherapist or life coach. The people in my personal life may not want me to perform a Will Smith-esque challenge to their self-disturbing behaviors.

 

Though not necessarily easy to do, I can watch the people in my inner circle disturb themselves into a miserable state of existence. If they ask for my help, I can assist with an invitation to consider REBT techniques offered throughout my blog.

 

As a psychotherapist and life coach, individuals seek my services which are devoted toward challenging unhelpful attitudes so that people may improve their lives. Regarding my professional role, I quoted the originator of REBT, Albert Ellis, in a blogpost entitled Luv(sic):

 

The goal is to help the client maximally accept reality (even when he doesn’t like it), stop whining and wailing about it, stop exacerbating it, and persist at trying to actively change it for the better. The therapist tries to show the client how to surrender her dictatorialness, with its concomitant compulsiveness, fixation, and fetishism, and to maximize her freedom of choice and be able to fulfill her human potential for growth and happiness.

 

Given Ellis’ unique approach to human potential for growth, acceptance is an integral component in the overall process. This is antithetical to the individual in the Instagram reel who advocated, “But the reason why you lose is because you’ve accepted who you are.”

 

A fundamental tenet of REBT is unconditional acceptance. In particular, and contrary to the message espoused in the social media post, unconditional self-acceptance (USA) is something I use in my own life and which I encourage my clients to practice in their lives.

 

At its core, USA acknowledges that I am a fallible (flawed) human being. I’ve never been perfect, I’m not faultless right now, and I never will be without defect. Therefore, I accept my imperfection as an inherent characteristic of life.

 

That’s it. Nothing more to add. Don’t try to improve upon yourself, because you’re imperfect. Have a nice life. Buh-bye.

 

Of course, I jest. Some clients disturb themselves in our sessions, because their irrational beliefs about USA lead them to conclude that unconditional acceptance of oneself is an act of giving in—it’s supposedly an excuse for mediocrity and a means to nihilist defeatism.

 

On the contrary, USA merely accepts what is rather than demanding what ought to be. I’m imperfect and I accept this irrefutable fact. Nevertheless, I can improve upon my fallibility while not disturbing myself on a pointless quest for imperfection.

 

Forgive me three personal anecdotes to demonstrate what I mean:

 

Anecdote 1 – When serving in the Marine Corps, I sustained physical injury to my bilateral shoulders. I could’ve chosen to disturb myself with unhelpful beliefs about how I shouldn’t have been injured. I could also have abandoned hope for any physical improvement thereafter.

 

However, I used USA to concede that I was flawed to begin with, so additional injuries weren’t entirely awful. Therefore, I sought medical attention, underwent physical therapy, and continue performing rehabilitative exercises to improve upon my imperfect condition. All of this requires discomfort.

 

Anecdote 2 – In childhood, and aggravated by military service, I sustained the condition of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I could effortlessly self-disturb about how I ought to have had a different experience in child- and adulthood, forsaking ambition for psychological improvement.

 

All the same, I’ve used USA to admit that I’m flawed with or without PTSD. As well, I’ve realized that I can tolerate and accept stressful experiences—even those of a traumatic nature. Hence, I practice REBT in my own life to maximize my growth potential. This requires challenging discomfort.

 

Anecdote 3 – Without expressing too much detail, I once lost the most significant romantic relationship of my life. When losing my intimate partner and a child I raised, who wasn’t my own, I could’ve crumbled into my own footprint with self-disturbing demands of how life must never have been so difficult.

 

Still, and without knowing of the concept at the time, it was USA expressed by my late stepmom that helped me realize I was flawed with or without my love interest. Consequently, I could improve upon my disposition without needlessly longing for a dissolved relationship or trying to make perfect that which never was. There was lots of discomfort in that lesson.

 

In anecdotes one, two, or three, was I a loser? If I’m to irrationally believe that the reason why I lose is because I’ve accepted who I am, then I suppose the answer is yes—I’m a loser.

 

However, I reject the notion that acceptance is losing. From an REBT perspective, it takes accepting oneself unconditionally to then improve upon imperfection. Otherwise, one may needlessly self-disturb regarding mediocrity or perfection.

 

Although I used to share the sentiment of the individual featured in the Instagram reel, as I uninvitingly pushed challenges into the lives of others in an act of love or compassion, I now approach life differently. I can love those people in my inner circle who may never realize their growth potential.

 

If asked to help, I try to influence them to improve their lives. This, too, I do for clients who pay me for the services I offer. Nevertheless, as Ellis indicated, the goal of my approach is to help people maximally accept reality—even when they don’t like it—because acceptance isn’t losing.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

 

References:

 

AEI. (n.d.). About Albert Ellis, Ph.D. Albert Ellis Institute. Retrieved from https://albertellis.org/about-albert-ellis-phd/

Ellis, A. (1985). Unhealthy love: Its Causes and Treatment. The Albert Ellis Institute. Retrieved from https://albertellis.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Unhealthy-Love-Its-Causes-and-Treatment.pdf

Hollings, D. (2022, November 18). Big T, little t. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/big-t-little-t

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/circle-of-concern

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2024, January 13). In terms of REBT. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/in-terms-of-REBT

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2022, December 9). Like it, love it, accept it. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/like-it-love-it-accept-it

Hollings, D. (2022, October 30). Luv(sic). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/luv-sic

Hollings, D. (2022, June 23). Meaningful purpose. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/meaningful-purpose

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-truth

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/personal-ownership

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2024, January 4). Rigid vs. rigorous. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rigid-vs-rigorous

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2023, September 17). That’s knot friendship. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/that-s-knot-friendship

Hollings, D. (2022, December 14). The is-ought problem. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-is-ought-problem

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 1). Unconditional self-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-self-acceptance

Palma, B. (2022, September 20). Did Marilyn Monroe really say this? Snopes. Retrieved from https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/marilyn-monroe-quote/

Tantotime. (2023, December 17). “The person that love you the most is the person that challenge you...” Instagram. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/reel/C09BCw1vW2o/

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Marilyn Monroe. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Monroe

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Will Smith. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Smith

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