How to accept things as they are but still grow as a person?

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    I know to be fully present and accept things as they are completely is the way to inner peace. That is what is true to me. I am wondering though, how can I accept things for how they are but also grow? Wouldn’t accepting things as they are keep you stagnant? If you accepted a brutal relationship as it is, how could you possibly grow while being held down? You could learn from the pain for certain but could you really truly continue to live a life worth living if you do not move forward? If you do not accomplish growth?  If you let the world do what it will to you? If you accepted things for how they are and you are jobless, would you just then be homeless as well? I think my real fear is remaining stagnant. Is not growing, evolving, learning. I like to grow and create a beautiful life for myself by learning and changing. Evolving into a more peaceful way of life. How could I let fear go if my fear is to remain the same while precisely accepting things as they are is my way to real peace? I guess I should not want peace and just be it. Is there truly no “me” to defend in the first place? Could you accept a brutal partner for who they are yet still live while being beaten down? You would have to have some sort of non-acceptance of suffering at the hands of another and take yourself out of the situation or else you would possibly die. I am very torn and confused. I am not in a brutal relationship but i have been in the past and i got myself out of it and i am much happier and healthier now. It seems like a good example here. Any advice would be great. I know there are many questions here. Mostly a rambling of my own thoughts. What are your thoughts?


    Dear dom:

    “how can I accept things for how they are but also grow?.. If you accepted a brutal relationship as it is, how could you possibly grow”?-

    – the suggestion to accept things as they are is only for situations you cannot change. For example, if you were in prison, and you took all the possible actions to free yourself, but all failed, then better accept being in prison. Because the desire to get free will wear you down with distress. On the other hand, if you are in a brutal relationship, and it is possible for you to leave, then you shouldn’t accept that relationship.. and leave!

    The serenity prayer expresses it well (think of “things” in the following as situations): “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

    Differentiate between situations you cannot change and situations that you can change. Differentiate between people that are not open to a positive change and people who are open to a positive change, same principle.



    Great question Dom

    I think this is one of the most important questions. If you find yourself able to say Yes to life as it is, how do you stay engaged in life. A attribute that is helpful is being able to hold what appears to be opposing ideas at the same time. Getting comfortable with Paradox

    The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. F. Scott Fitzgerald

    How to remain engaged in life and Accept (say yes) to the life (the moment) as it is?  How to “be grateful for the thing you wished most never happened” – Steven Colbert   How to “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” – Joseph Campbell

    My understanding of Buddhism engages the idea of Detachment. This is not indifference which would lead to the issues of stuckness your concerned about. Detachment is the practice of acknowledging/accepting the moment as it is without attaching a sense of self (ego) to the experience while living your truth and engaging in that moment. Can you hold the two seeming opposing actions of accepting the moment while living your truth to engage that moment?

    This is action coming from a place of humility, honesty… vice anger, revenge… If one is in a brutal relationship the task is to see the relationship as it is and as Anita mentions changing what you can. Love may require that relationship end. Accepting the situation as it is in that moment does not mean you don’t stay in that situation. Accepting may be recognizing that you can’t time travel to undo the moment. Accepting is Seeing the situation as it is and acting on your truth as you know it to be in that moment.

    Perhaps the problem comes down to how we define the word ‘Accepting’ ?  If accepting is a surrender you will likely end in indifference. But if acceptance is seeing things as they are then your in a better position to recognize what you might influence


    Hi Dom,

    I wanted to say that I have the exact same question as you for quite some time and have finally found a way to resolve this paradox which seems irreconcilable. During my years of studying psychology, i came across this therapy called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) created by Marsha Linehan. One of the key therapeutic technique she shared was radical acceptance, which is similar yet different to simply “accepting”. Radical acceptance means accepting the past & present for what it is, and yet also knowing that in the future, nothing is set in stone yet and YOU have the power & ability to make positive changes that you hope to see.

    For instance, we can try to achieve a goal and work towards it, hoping to manifest what we dream of. However, if there are setbacks or hiccups along the way, we need to learn how to accept it and in response be flexible & adaptable about managing it. You mentioned how can this be applied to a brutal relationship, I feel like it’s not always about accepting things for what it is if it’s actively causing you distress and unhappiness. Acceptance is important, but self-love is even more important. In fact, we choose acceptance to free ourselves from pain. Its basis is respect and love towards oneself. I’m sorry for what you may have been through, and also very glad that you’re in a much better place now.

    So in conclusion, my thoughts on how to reconcile the paradox would be learning how to practice ‘radical acceptance’. I came across this article: . I hope it enlightens you (:


    Hi dom,

    Your confusion is genuine and valid. I too had it for a long time.

    Eckhart Tolle has given a very good example in his book The Power of Now.

    “If you were stuck in the mud somewhere, you wouldn’t say: “Okay, I resign myself to being stuck in the mud.” Resignation is not surrender. You don’t need to accept an undesirable or unpleasant life situation. Nor do you need to deceive yourself and say that there is nothing wrong with being stuck in the mud. No. You recognize fully that you want to get out of it. You then narrow your attention down to the present moment without mentally labeling it in any way. This means that there is no judgment of the Now. Therefore, there is no resistance, no emotional negativity. You accept the “isness” of this moment. Then you take action and do all that you can to get out of the mud. Such action I call positive action. It is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair, or frustration. Until you achieve the desired result, you continue to practice surrender by refraining from labeling the Now. 

    Let me give you a visual analogy to illustrate the point I am making. You are walking along a path at night, surrounded by a thick fog. But you have a powerful flashlight that cuts through the fog and creates a narrow, clear space in front of you. The fog is your life situation, which includes past and future; the flashlight is your conscious presence; the clear space is the Now. “

    I give you one more example. You are in a car and stuck in traffic. You are not able to move left, right, front or back.

    What would one do?

    option 1: Get angry, upset, frustrated, may be even get out of the care and see how long the traffic is and get even more frustrated.

    option 2: Accept that “Okay there is a lot of traffic and I cannot move. What is it that I can do?”

    Play up a good song in the car stereo. Call a friend or a partner. May be focus on your breath. Smile at the person in the car next to you..and things like that…till the traffic moves. It nowhere meant that you cannot take action and move.

    So acceptance does not mean “inaction”. Acceptance does not mean “resignation”. It simply means “the situation is as it is”.

    “If you let the world do what it will to you?”

    For this question of yours too Eckhart has given a quick example

    A question asked to Eckhart was – (Referring about his book A New Earth)

    “I’m a little bit confused with chapter 2. I understand the quote, ‘If someone takes your shirt, let them have your coat as well.’ Where do you draw the line without getting walked all over? I don’t want to be an egotistical person, but at the same time I do not want to get taken advantage of. So I’m having a little bit of confusion with that.”

    Eckhart replied:

    “All it says is sometimes letting go, there’s more power in letting go than in clinging or hanging on to something. So there are situations when you actually become empowered when you let go, rather than when you cling. It does not mean that people walk all over you. In fact there are situations when you have to say no very clearly as to a situation or to a person, but even that ‘no’ can be of two different kinds.”

    Tolle continued, “Usually the no is very negative. When you say ‘no’ to a person; a person says, ‘I’ll give you a ride home.’ But you see the person is drunk. Of course you wouldn’t say yes just to be pleasant. You say no.”

    “Now do you say no with negative energy and in a state of resistance or do you say not that is positive? It simply means a clear and straight forward, ‘No, I won’t do that.'”

    “This is very different from the resistant no. I call that the no that is not negative – a high quality no.”


    To get more answers on the title of this thread I recommend you to read/watch articles, books and videos from Eckhart Tolle. There are also free videos of him on YouTube.



    In the example you give why does accepting that a bad relationship is bad equal staying in the relationship? Once you accept something is what it is it frees you to grow and move on. The opposite is to be in denial that a relationship is bad and stay stuck in it denying the truth and constantly struggling to make the relationship something it isnt. Once you accept it for what it is you can make a choice based on truth.

    Acceptance means not struggling to change something that you can’t change or being stuck in wanting something to be different that can’t be like another person’s behaviour or feelings.

    Accepting that you are jobless doesn’t mean giving up on everything, it means not attaching emotion to it. You could be jobless and angry about it, use alcohol to escape that reality or you can accept that currently you are jobless and put effort into remedying the situation rather than resisting the situation.


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