Emotional Freedom Begins With Acceptance

Written by on July 14, 2014 in Adaptability, Emotional Mastery


The price we pay for overloaded schedules, stress, dysfunctional relationships and too many unfulfilled dreams and goals is our emotional freedom.

While becoming more aware of your feelings and emotions will surely serve to spark the desire for meaningful change, the key to reclaiming your emotional freedom is acceptance.

Acceptance is highly underrated as a growth and recovery strategy, in large part because it’s so often confused with resignation. While both terms fundamentally involve accepting the reality of a situation, resignation is giving up because you believe there’s no other choice. It’s sad and heavy and feels like settling for less – less joy, less confidence, less self-respect.

On the other hand, acceptance can feel like a new beginning because it is proactive and empowering. It’s letting go of what was, acknowledging what is, and getting busy actively creating a better future, even if it means a vastly different future than the one you once planned for yourself.

You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. ~Marianne Williamson

Acceptance is …

  • The ability to be truly honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Think of this as your benchmark – a starting point from which to grow.
  • Admitting you failed, made the wrong choice, or flat out screwed up. It’s coming to terms with where you are now, what needs to be done to make amends, and deciding on a course of action to move on and make better choices in the future.
  • Recognizing that someone close to you has a behavior problem (Fill in the blank: substance abuse, physical abuse, eating disorder, etc.). While you accept this about them, you determine that you’re not going to allow their problem to become your own and you are not going to enable their behavior. It’s also accepting that the process may lead you to determine that ending the relationship is your best option.
  • Coming to terms with the reality that your life will be irrevocably changed as the result of a physical injury or debilitating health condition. It’s also believing you can still live a full and rewarding life; just a different life than you originally planned.

A personal example …

I rarely write about things I haven’t experienced firsthand, and acceptance is right up there at the top of the list. I’ll give you just one example.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with a rare degenerative eye disease for which there was no known cure and that would result in the complete loss of my eyesight – sooner rather than later. While I accepted the reality and severity of my situation, by no means did I throw a pity party or resign myself to the eventual worst case scenario.

Instead, I got to work researching the disease along with every available option, including experimental drugs and procedures. At the same time, I took a serious look at my living arrangements and options available to me to learn new skills that would enable me to continue living independently in the event that I did lose my sight. You see while I accepted the circumstances, I also trusted that somehow I would find a way to push through the crisis, even if it meant learning to thrive in a future without sight.

Fast forward, we not only located a specialist who was conducting experimental surgery on similar types of conditions, but he was based in a hospital nearby on the Island of Oahu. I flew over for a meeting and eventually he agreed to take my case – no guarantees – and beyond the surgery it meant months of flying back and forth from Maui to Oahu for testing and additional treatments, but it was a chance and that’s all I needed.

Now I go into this story in more detail in my book Resilient Living but I will tell you that the surgery was a huge success … but it could just as easily have gone the other way. The most important point is that I would never have had a chance to turn things around had I resigned myself to fate.

Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. J.K. Rowling

Acceptance and trusting that things will work out don’t guarantee that everything will turn out the way you want it to, but it’s certainly better than the alternative because when you don’t trust, everything becomes more difficult. You fight, resist and hang on for dear life, which only serves to reinforce the insecurity that comes from lack of trust. It’s a vicious, exhausting cycle. But when you honestly accept your circumstances and genuinely believe that YOU will be okay no matter what happens, letting go becomes much easier and it’s at this point you are far better able to see all the possibilities available to you.

There is no question that it takes inner strength to master acceptance and to let go of how you think things should be or how you wish they were. In fact, acceptance may be the hardest and bravest thing you will ever do, but then emotional freedom is a pretty big payoff for the effort!



Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


Thank you for sharing!

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21 Reader Comments

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  1. martyherald says:

    Glad you enjoyed the article Yorinda it’s always nice to welcome you back and I do appreciate your thoughtful insights.

  2. martyherald says:

    Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation Dr. Erica, always appreciated! As far as sharing my story, that’s a relatively new thing for me. I’m an intensely private person but with the publication of my book on resilience it occurred to me that it was important to let readers know my knowledge and advice comes from more than research but from personal experience. I’m still not comfortable sharing, but I think it’s important.

  3. Worli

    Hello Marty,
    Perhaps one of life’s most difficult things is to accept/admit that you have failed. The world is in a constant state of flux and nothing stays the same for very long. Dealing with these frequent ups and downs can make the difference between being miserable and contented.

    “Love yourself and be happy and share yourself with the world and teach others they too can choose happiness for themselves.”
    Worli recently posted…Love Is When You Look Into Someone’s EyesMy Profile

  4. Yorinda Wanner says:

    Hi Marquita,
    thank you so much for sharing your insights which obviously come from experience.
    So glad to read that you managed to recover.
    I like J. Rowling’s quote. Acceptance also helps us find understanding.

    As always I appreciate your interesting and inspiring post.
    Love and Light!
    Yorinda Wanner recently posted…SuperBetter introduction to the Game for getting betterMy Profile

  5. Marty, Thank you for sharing your very personal story. You certainly are a role model for teaching about resilience. That may be one of the most important qualities we can and need to cultivate. Life is a great equalizer. No matter how wonderful or unfulfilling our life is at this moment, it will definitely change. A severe accident, the loss of a loved one, rejection by a loved one, failure at a project or activity, anything that causes a change in our familiar lifestyle, can be a moment to give up, to bemoan our fate and suffer – or – to do what it takes to survive and thrive.
    Accepting the way things are, right now, and holding a vision of the way we want it to be can often work wonders. But sometimes there is a loss that we cannot undo and that is when resilience and acceptance are essential for our own well-being.

    Warmly, Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…Leave Something Good … For Something BetterMy Profile

  6. martyherald says:

    Welcome back Willena and thanks for sharing your own story with us. I can tell from the tone of your writing this is really a sore spot for you and I think you’ve come a long way by recognizing the problem, but I don’t need to tell you that you’ve got more work to do. Hang in there and never forget you are one of a kind and very special!

  7. martyherald says:

    Thanks for sharing your story and contributing to the conversation Leslie. And I’m glad your eye condition worked out for the best as well. I am a BIG believer in getting a second opinion!

  8. martyherald says:

    Welcome back Mark and thank you for sharing your thoughtful insights about acceptance. Always appreciate your contribution to the conversation. 🙂

  9. martyherald says:

    Hey Donna, thanks so much for contributing to the conversation – always appreciated! 🙂

  10. martyherald says:

    So glad you found the article worthwhile Dave. You know the interesting thing about my “story” is that when I happened I didn’t tell anyone – not my family, friends, co-workers – nada. I had to tell my manager because I had to take 2 weeks off for the surgery and stay in Honolulu but I swore her to secrecy. It was only when I wrote my book about resilience that I finally broke down and started talking about it because I decided readers needed to know I was coming from a place of firsthand experience.

  11. martyherald says:

    Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation Chery – always appreciated!
    martyherald recently posted…Stories of Resilience: W. MitchellMy Profile

  12. If I could only ACCEPT the fact that I have ADD, instead of resisting the way I am made, I would finally get over the hurdle of obstacles and move forward. I only learned about the ADD nine years ago. I can see how I’ve been resisting all my life, and struggling and striving to find that safe track where others won’t ridicule me for being stupid. I can see how I’m doing it to this day. Trouble is, I know it only in theory — the vast majority of the time I am not aware I’m doing it “right now”.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Marquita. Accepting doesn’t mean labeling yourself or giving in to “the inevitable”. It means knowing where your starting point is, and working from there. I like Garret LoPorto’s explanation of ADD. He says it’s only the downside of something very positive… that ADD symptoms typically show up only when one resists, and struggles to fit into someone else’s mold.

    Like you, I need to do what it takes to minimize the negative symptoms — and recognize my strengths and do what it takes to maximize them. THEN my life will take the most positive path, whatever it turns out to be.
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…Bird in the HouseMy Profile

  13. Leslie Denning

    Hi Marty. Acceptance is so important. There are things we can’t control in this life, and we need to either live our life in misery or accept what is and go on.

    It’s interesting about your eye condition. I was told about 5 years ago that I had a degenerative eye condition. The only thing that would slow the progress was semi-rigid contact lenses. Although I’d never had luck with contacts, I gamely wore them. Like you, I began to prepare myself mentally for the eventual loss of my sight.

    Turned out, it was a misdiagnosis. Because I have rather dry eyes, it caused a misread by the fancy machine. I am now happily in disposable soft lenses and seeing better than ever!

    I’m glad your story had such a happy ending, as well, and I really enjoyed this post.

    All the best,
    Leslie Denning recently posted…The Home Biz CEO MagazineMy Profile

  14. Mark

    Where do I begin Marquita!

    And without a doubt as far as I’m concerned, you have definitely more than made the case for acceptance over resignation!

    Clearly the way you have so skillfully articulated it, acceptance is far more empowering!

    I’m so glad you took the proactive approach to our earlier medial situation! You demonstrated amazing courage and resolve!

    That was truly inspirational! Thank you so much sharing it! And I’m so glad you had a happy ending!
    Mark recently posted…Why These Examples Of Target Marketing Really Work! Part SixMy Profile

  15. nick catricala

    acceptance… this word means a lot more to me .. ho yes, you done a great job to explain.. and I thank you very much.. very interesting to read your articles since you take such a great care to research the subject.

    Sharing how things have worked for you have made me feel good.

    I always come back with saying that accepting ourselves comes first on the list, and once that is done properly, the rest will follow much better.

    Thanks so much again for sharing..
    nick catricala recently posted…A Lifetime Commitment -Part 5 of 6My Profile

  16. donna merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    Acceptance! What a great topic to write about. When we can truly accept, there is less stress in our lives. When accepting people and things the way they are, we can live in our own peace and harmony.

    I know it is sometimes difficult, but I’m getting there! I’m pretty good about it, but when it comes to family members, I still am working on it.

    Thanks so much for writing about this important topic.

    donna merrill recently posted…Guest Blog Post | Lesly FedericiMy Profile

  17. Love this post, Acceptance is so important. I love the section you talk about making sure other people’s problems don’t become yours.

    When you let this happen it drags you down and adds to those stress to your life.

    Thanks for sharing your story in this article, it is a great story

    Andy Lockhart recently posted…5 Great Plugins for WordPressMy Profile

  18. martyherald says:

    Funny about us both focusing on acceptance – that happens sometimes. I look forward to reading your post Sebastian. I’m sorry to hear about your friend and while I am certainly in no position to offer personal advice to her, I will say that one lesson I’ve learned is to keep pushing for answers and get more than one opinion. In my case it was only after I nagged my doctor that he finally started helping me with the research than lead to finding my surgeon. Another instance had to do with my dog – his vet told me he had arthritis in his back and there was nothing that could be done. The kindest thing I could do would be to put him to sleep. I took my dog to a different vet who prescribed a $15 medication for the arthritis and within a week he was jumping and playing like a puppy! I have the greatest respect for the medical profession, but personally I will never resign myself to the first diagnosis again. Wish your friend a speedy and full recovery! 🙂

  19. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    This made me smile. On my weekly WEdnesday quote post I did acceptance quotes this week. It looks like we were both thinking about similar things.

    I agree acceptance is so important to living a healthy and full life. Only when we accept ourselves as we are then we can take the steps to change. I think it is also important to accept others as they are and where they are at in their journey.

    I am glad your eye surgery went well. My best friend is having issues with her eye and major headaches currently. She just saw a specialist and they don’t know what is wrong and she has to get an MRI done on Thursday. I hope it turns out okay. I’d be devastated if it was anything fatal.

    Thanks for the post.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…34 Quotes About AcceptanceMy Profile

  20. Dave

    As always, the nuggets of wisdom you provide contain a healthy and much needed dose of perspective. For me, this article’s comparison of the words acceptance and resignation hit home.

    As I look back, so many times I convinced myself that I was “accepting” a situation when in reality I was “resigning” from it. Sometimes it is the simplest of reminders that pulls us out of a funk and helps to open our eyes to reality and the possibilities available to us.

    Your story is inspiring and a perfect example of how you live true to your words. Thank you for sharing such a personal story and some valuable insights that we can all apply to our own lives 😉
    Dave recently posted…AwakenedMy Profile

  21. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty What a great story, I Love to hear good endings like yours.. Acceptance Oh Yes, It is a hard one sometimes but once you make the decision and follow through I bet you will find you made the right choice.

    Especially if it was something that didnt allow you to be the best you can be.. YOU>> Yes I am talking from experience here LOL

    Thanks for sharing..Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Is The Network Marketing Profession For You?My Profile

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