5 Keys to Accepting What You Can’t Change

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” – William James 

Accepting what we don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life. I’m all for taking action and changing what we can, but inevitably there will be people, situations, and events we don’t like and that we aren’t able to change.

Do you find yourself trying to change things you have no control over?

If so, you probably find it difficult to be satisfied and content with life. If we can’t change a situation or an outcome our best option is to learn how to accept it and deal with it.

Acceptance has many benefits:

  • A more positive attitude
  • Less worry and stress
  • Less energy drained from trying to figure things out
  • Ability to embrace change
  • Greater appreciation and gratitude
  • A more compassionate perspective

Acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. We can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond our control. Here are a few tips to living with greater acceptance so you can have more joy and peace of mind.

1. Let go of the past

We all have baggage that we carry from our past, and this baggage gets heavier the longer we hold onto it. Many people have a hard time letting go of past. We carry a mental reminder of our mistakes and losses with us everywhere we go, not realizing how much they steal from our present joy and contentment. We can’t change the past. What happened in your past happened, so our only hope is to learn how to accept our past and move forward.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

2. Learn coping skills

At one point or another life will present us with an unexpected turn of events. It may be a difficult loss or a failure of epic proportions that we aren’t prepared to deal with. Sometimes these events are beyond our current ability to cope. So, part of the acceptance process is learning new ways to cope with a crisis. Keep your emotions in check so you can make a more conscious decision about how to deal with a difficult situation.

3. Make it meaningful

Sometimes the “worst” thing that happens to us ends up being the most fundamental part of our personal growth. It is easier to accept something when we explore the opportunities and possibilities that come out of it. What can you learn from your difficulty? How has your difficulty made you a stronger person?

“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

4. Expect less

We live in a world that tells us to want more, be more, and do more. This isn’t always a negative message, but it often gets in the way of our life-satisfaction. When something doesn’t meet our expectations we are disappointed and angry. Life can appear purposeless, unfair, and ruthless if our expectations are unrealistic. So, instead of expecting something to happen, or expecting a person to act a certain way, try to focus on accepting and creating. Focus on what you want to create instead of what you expect to happen. Creation is motivating, expectation is demanding.

5. Set new goals

When we run into failure or setbacks it can feel like we are stuck with nowhere to turn. Life will take unexpected turns and when this happens our trajectory might have to change as well. There is a point where it is in our best interest to move on and let go of what we want. If something doesn’t work the way we planned, don’t get caught up in the outcome. Instead of doing the same thing and expecting different results, accept things aren’t working the way you planned and do something different.

You may not be able change what you’re going through right now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life. You can adapt and adjust to your present circumstances.

Stop avoiding difficult issues and only focusing on what you can’t change. Focus on what you can do about the situation, and if you can’t change something it’s time to accept this reality.

What do you need to accept so you can be happier and more fulfilled?

  • Donnamarie Long

    My parents gave my brother and sister a condo down at the shore,
    I was given my parents condo that they still use every weekend!
    They can go down and remodel theirs totally and spend every weekend
    down there. I have to share my parents condo, can’t really remodel it without
    hurting my parents feelings, not to mention every time I want to change
    something my father disagrees! I am the oldest, the one that always
    gets stuck with doing things for them. This whole process has made me
    so bitter towards them. I just don’t know how to deal with this. It’s
    been a year now!

    • Trevor Kerr (Artmada)

      You’re making that a problem, they gave you a condo. There’s nothing more to the situation, they gave you a condo.
      You can’t get along with the people who gave you a place to live, because you can’t make it pretty like your brother and sister can theirs. You need to be grateful for the fact that you have a roof over your head and that you got it for free, this is the reason you don’t have it all to yourself.

  • Jessica George

    I am a college student, and I have been set on graduating and finishing spring of 2018. If I don’t I will have to pay my tuition out of pocket which I can not afford because Mr and my family lost our home in the flood and we are trying to repair our home. The closer it gets to that graduation time, something comes up. How do I accept that I may have to graduate after the expected time and not share that graduation time with my classmates?

    • Nirvik

      Hey Jessica,

      Life is filled with surprises, ain’t it? I have been where you are before. The situation of course was a little bit different. I was a Computer Science major who failed math classes over and over. It delayed my graduation time by 4 to 5 months. I wanted to go to grad school, but I couldn’t because I didn’t receive my diploma yet. But my friends had already started on their new jobs or they were already going for grad school.

      Now, I applied for PhD programs in Computer Science and it’s not easy to get in at all. Plus a bunch of backlogs just lowered my chances of making it more and more. I was miserable that I was not able to graduate with my classmates.

      However, I just kept telling myself that I should accept it and focus on the things that I can work on and are in my control. I worked hard on the remaining components of the application package, such as writing Statement of Purpose, getting Letters of Recommendations, giving the GRE etc. Finally, I graduated and voila! I made it into a PhD program from one of the top 70 schools in the US.

      So graduating late means nothing. It just means that you are taking things slow at the moment and giving yourself time to think about what you want to do. Even if you are not consciously thinking about your plans, for some reason, life is making you take things slow. Go with it. Because life is always full of surprises. Take it easy on yourself. You will be just fine!

  • Katekani

    I am a 20 year old ..my boyfriend is 21..he told me that he has a child outside that was conceived before I came on the pic …now I cannot accept because what I know is that the mother will always be part of our lives . please help..cos I love this guy

    • Acceptance isn’t a simple process. There are things we can’t change and if we aren’t willing to accept them we will face resistance and dissonance. If you really want to be with this guy, what can help you accept the reality of the situation?

    • Ella

      Hi Katekani I am 23 and going through the exact same problem. I have been with him 3 years but I still can’t get over this… and it’s getting worse… I hate seeing his kid because it makes my thoughts go to awful places… the kid brings up his mom a lot too so it’s like all I can think about when he is here. I feel mentally ill because of this. Did you find a way to let go of it? Or at least stop the awful thoughts of what happened before you?

  • Boho

    I have recently tried to confront an individual about a situation where we were both at fault, I have admitted my faults and apologized, but he doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong, he thinks he’s completely innocent and has no reason to hold responsibility for his actions and apologize. It hurt me when he pinned all the blame on me, even though I was already admitting my mistakes, but he refuses to see his. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that he won’t see it, and I may never get an apology that I deserve.. I want to move on, but the conversation haunts me, and I crave relief from this pain. What perspective do I need to change? How can I move on with him living like he’s innocent?

    • Nirvik

      Look at the situation from the perspective of the above article. Clearly, there are things that are outside of your control. Accept it that you cannot change how the other individual thinks or believes. If he is not apologizing, then you cannot force him to apologize. But, there are things about the situation that you can control. You apologized for your mistakes. You have done what’s in your control. Now accept it and move on. Do not dwell on it.

      It’s hard to accept and move on. But think about it like this. The mistake was the result of 2 people. Both people have equal control on the mistake. You can only take care of one end. The other end is his problem. You have done what you were supposed to. Now it’s time to let it go.

      Do not dwell on things that you can’t control. Tell your mind to come to terms with it. At one point your mind will surrender to the fact that it doesn’t have control over everything. Things get better from that point.

    • Matt B

      Does he have Asperger’s syndrome, because people with aspergers normally can’t understand why or what they did wrong, they can’t understand fully

    • Juanita Juniper
      • Juanita Juniper

        watch this Boho.

  • Aku

    long ago i already have accepted the fact that my mom is an overprotective person not just over me but over anyone she loves really, but its worse with me because i am her daughter, its reached to the point where its more like absolute control than protectiveness and its effecting my mental health in so many ways that i cannot accept it anymore, and i refuse to because i know i am capable of making good decisions on my own. i always have been a good daughter i always try my best to become better and show her i am capable of making some decisions on my own and being independent, but i realized no matter what i do she’ll never change. i know i am only 17 but still i don’t get to do things that normal 17 year olds would do which is what upsets me the most. i really am afraid my life is gonna going to waste under her control and i’ll grow up not having any fun memories to look at or any fun stories to remember or even tell anyone. too much control can ruin a person and make them become someone they never thought they would be, and i really don’t wanna fall into those steps. i’ve met so many people my age who have issues or do things that aren’t to be proud of at all and its all because their parents or one of them was too controlling. i really don’t wanna be like that, i wanna stay a good daughter but im afraid she’s gonna drive me crazy and will make my life ruin right in front of my eyes.

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  • Mahmoud Khaled

    I am 20 years old and i can’t find anything interesting in my life… it all started when i was not accepted for the second and last time in the police academy which i have always been dreaming to join. If it was a fair rejection it would be more easier on me, but in Egypt.. if you are blind and your father is a powerful cop you will be accepted in the academy. I was not accepted because i have done a laser surgery to improve my vision. I have some close friends who should have never been accepted but they were, and i have to deal with them normally, but how? Now everytime i see someone in the police uniform i feel like i should have been like him. And i don’t talk as much as i used to do before

    • Grant

      There’s a reason for everything it may not be for u. Be something better there’s a life lesson in all. I’m in a boarding school I hate it’s all guys. I love girls and that’s all my friends were and now I’m stuck at this place with a bunch of people I don’t like, but u have to work on urself and not give a fuck about other people because it’s u in the end and that’s all that matters. This is a chance and there was a reason not because u weren’t capable because it wasn’t ur plan and ur mission to do that.

    • Marie Schmude

      Pick up the Holy Bible and start reading it….It will change your Life for the better….We all have a purpose and goal in this LIFE, you just have to TRUST GOD to let you find it.

  • Jhulz

    I had this dream of topping a major exam like I wanted it so badly. But unfortunately, things didn’t go my way because the items that came out was something I never studied. And now, I am having a hard time moving on from that exam because it was some sort of plot twist that I need in my life.

  • Kay Collins

    How do I accept that my adult daughter chooses to be out of my life and takes my only grandchild away? How do I accept that my adult son, while he calls or texts weekly, would prefer to live away from me? How do I accept that while I have 6 siblings, only 3 communicate with me? I have friends, but no close friend. I feel alone, and sad. My friends spend time with their adult children and grandchildren, so it can make it unbearable to be around them sometimes. How can I move on and accept that?

    • Ed Taruc

      Hi Kay, it’s really difficult, right? But we need to move on, shouldn’t we? Are you from Texas?

      • kjc

        No. I’m not from Texas. And it is very difficult

    • Rebecca

      I think it helps to focus on the positive things that you do have, the three siblings that do communicate, for instance. Also, it’s good to explore new interests and passions, and to focus on helping others. We can’t change others, only ourselves.

    • Corrine Bock Loyola

      Sounds like you have an issue you may not recognize, a problem within yourself. When that many people choose to distance themselves from you, it may be your problem not theirs. My guess is borderline personality disorder, you should seek professional help.

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  • Christina Sharmeela Biggs

    I got married 8 months ago. I’m very fair and beautiful. But my make up artist put terrible make up on my face n made me looked grey. Almost everyday I cried thinking of it. I don’t know how to get rid of this from my mind. It’s over n I can’t do anything anymore. Pls help me