Acceptance can be harmful

by maximusaurus

First off: THIS IS NOT A POST ABOUT AUTISM. I am NOT saying that we should not accept people on the spectrum for who they are. Alrighty, now the disclaimer’s out of the way, I would ask that all torches, pitchforks, and rotten tomatoes be declared upon entry. If you feel the need to voice outrage, the comment section is right below, for your convenience. 🙂

Acceptance can be a wonderful thing. I’m a huge believer in showing  tolerance of other people’s sexuality or race, for example. Then again, chocolate can be a wonderful thing too, but that doesn’t mean there are no downsides to wolfing down a whole block faster than you can say “Easter afternoon chocolate hangover”.

The problem with acceptance is that it can discourage self-improvement. If we accept that we’re “perfect as we are”, then we don’t feel the need to better ourselves. It becomes an excuse not to make the effort to be the best that we can be.

For instance, a year and a half back, I was quite overweight. What I needed wasn’t acceptance, but a wake up call, which I got from the parent of a friend, who commented on how much weight I had put on. This motivated me to do something about it, and push myself to get back into my healthy weight range. Given my family history, acceptance could well have seen me dead in my forties of a heart attack or stroke.

This doesn’t just go for physical health either; in every area of our lives, there’s always the temptation of setting comfortable limits, to splash around in the shallows instead of braving the epic waves further out.

I get it, it’s stressful (not to mention terrifying) to face the fact that we’re in the driver’s seat of our own lives, and everything is on us. That’s one hell of a responsibility, and let’s be honest, it’s a relief to just toss things in the “too hard” basket and be patted on the back for “accepting yourself for who you are”. But like strapping the Wii remote to the ceiling fan to beat the marathon on Wii Fit, you’re only cheating yourself.

If it’s something you genuinely can’t change, then by all means accept it, for your own peace of mind if nothing else. But don’t let the lure of acceptance hold you back from becoming the best possible version of yourself. You owe it to yourself not to settle for less.