Acceptance is the hallmark of many Eastern teachings, including Taoism, which is not a religion but a way of being that is in harmony with the flow of the universe. To let tension go without effort, become aware of tension and accept it. This is an example of wu-wei or doing by not doing. In the beginning it is helpful to just observe and accept what your body is doing.
If you worry, you tense up and restrict the flow of chi or vital energy. Let go and breathe deeply to enhance the flow and allow yourself to accept things as they are. Author Melodie Beattie said, “Acceptance is the magic that makes change possible.” You are able to make the space for change if you accept and validate what is; accept your body as it is and breathe from your heart center or tan t’ien in order to regain balance and be centered.
Perfection does not exist in the real world. the best we can do is hope to come close to it. Perfection is either in the past or in the future or in the dream world. Because inside yang there must be yin — nothing is absolute. Denial prevents us from accepting what is actually there, what is happening, and what is missing. Accepting what is, you become keenly aware of what isn’t.
According to yoga philosophy, self-acceptance leads to true contentment. It is not easy in our present world. The images we see every day — on TV, in magazines, at work, and in the marketplace — stare back at us with reproach. We can never be beautiful enough, wealthy enough, smart enough, or even happy enough. Acceptance means to recognize something for what it is and realize that all of our experiences are temporary. What you see in the mirror today will not be what you see tomorrow. Acceptance allows you to handle change in a calmer way, and to work for change when necessary.
Many parents think it’s their job to correct their kids, to “straighten them out,” by pointing out what they do wrong and what is wrong with them. Though well intentioned, this type of parenting damages a child’s self worth when it is not balanced with plenty of praise and acknowledgment of the good things a child has said and done, and how beautiful and intelligent they are. One study showed that if praise is connected with touch, the child takes it in 85 percent of the time, while if it is only given verbally, the child accepts it only 15 percent of the time.
Negative criticism and punishment stick like glue and a child will remember it long into adulthood — much longer than the positive things you say, if you say them infrequently Criticism makes children self-critical and cripples their confidence.
By accepting your children as they are right now, you can help them grow up feeling secure with lots of self regard and healthy personal power. Jean Liedloff, in her wonderful book, The Continuum Concept, illustrates this point in her account of the village life of the Yequana people of South America:
“I was present at the first moments of one little girl’s working life. She was about two years old. I had seen her with the women and girls, playing as they grated manioc into a trough. Now she was taking a piece of manioc from the pile and rubbing it against the grater of a girl near her. The chunk was too big; she dropped it several times tryingto draw it across the rough board. An affectionate smile and a smaller piece of manioc came from her neighbor, and her mother, ready for the inevitable impulse to show itself, handed her a tiny grating board of her own. The little girl had seen the women grating as long as she could remember and immediately rubbed the nubbin up and down on her board like the others.”
She goes on to describe how the child lost interest in just a few minutes and ran off, but no one laughed or was surprised or saw her as “cute.” That the end result will be social cooperative, and entirely voluntary is not in question. The object of the child’s activities, after all, is the development of self-reliance. To give that either more or less assistance than it needs tends to defeat that purpose. It is always assumed that the child’s motives and social and that whatever he or she does will be accepted as the act of an innately “right” creature.
Many Western societies tend to take the reverse approach, and assume that children are innately impulsive and, if not anti-social, they need to be “socialized.” To put the principle of acceptance into practice in a Western family, the parents can allow their small children to help with the housework (using child-size tools), help wash dishes or clothes, help with grocery shopping, help cook by stirring a pot, and so on.
Beware of giving too many apprehensive warnings; you can thereby by unconsciously program your child to hurt himself. As Liedloff says, “. . . he is more likely to do what he senses is expected of him than what he is told to do,” because of his innate, unsatisfied longing for acceptance by his caregivers. “Mindful predominantly of playing the part expected of him in his battle of wills with his parent, the little challenger is out of responsible balance with his surroundings and his self-preservation system is handicapped.”
We have traded much that is good about village life for our modern conveniences. At least we can try to be aware if the messages we are giving our children through our expectations of them. They need to know it is assumed they will be cooperative and social, and that you are there to guide them to the information they seek. They need to know that, deep inside you and not just through your words, they themselves are always accepted, even though their actions may be accepted or rejected according to society’s rules.
Validation is to accept that the experience of an individual is true. We invalidate our children when we argue with them about what they tell us they feel, and when we tell them they should be seen and not heard. When we invalidate our children, we set them up to be invisible, to themselves and to others, and to put other people’s needs, wishes and opinions above their own — eventually, they won’t even know what they want or need.