Friday, March 31, 2017


When you Google the word “Acceptance” be prepared for the possibility that you may find yourself feeling confused. There is a lot of really deep-sounding stuff out there on the topic of acceptance but it often gets lost in a sea of over-philosophizing and psychobabble. The reason is probably because acceptance in itself is such a paradoxical concept; in some ways it can seem so simple, yet trying to explain acceptance can be so complex. Therefore in an effort to avoid being just another paradoxical, overly-philosophical, quasi-spiritual, confusing essay on acceptance, let’s consider this idea of acceptance in practical terms. When something is practical, it is easily used and applied rather than overly deep and abstract. How can we start to apply acceptance in a practical, useful manner?

One obstacle that makes acceptance such a challenge is that many of the prevailing messages we receive each day fly in the face of acceptance as many media messages are based on an idea of not sitting back and accepting things as they are. Some of these messages include

  • You can do it if you try hard enough
  • Keep on pushing, trying, struggling, etc.
  • Never give up

One of the more bitter to swallow realities of life is that there is a time to keep on fighting but there is also a time when acceptance can tell us to “cut our losses”. In its simplest form, acceptance begins at those moments in life where we just come to the conclusion that “It is what it is…” Certain causes and situations in life may call for a “fight to the end” but many others are better handled by accepting, coping and then adapting. Sometimes when we accept a situation for what it is, then learn to cope with any negative feelings, we can then start to adapt our lives as needed. Often when this process occurs the way it should, we can find eventually ourselves in a better place…

Consider the following questions for thought and discussion:

How does a person know when it is time to just say (at least for now): “It is what it is…”? Come up with some examples.

When it comes to substance misuse, abuse and addiction, what is it that some people may need to accept? Why can that be so hard to do?

Acceptance can be like opening a doorway toward coping with a situation, and then adapting life toward change and self-improvement. With that in mind, what is one thing in your life that you are changing for the better?

Click Here for a follow-up group therapy exercise focused on the concept of Accept – Cope - Adapt

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Upside Smack

Depending upon how old you are, there most likely was a time when life smacked you in the face as if to say “Wake up stupid!” Sometimes it takes something that seems negative at the time to serve as a wakeup call to get back on track. Sometimes it can be a near miss, like almost getting arrested, hurt or even killed. Sometimes life can smack someone who is stubborn several times around before they even decide to listen. Therein lies the key question, when life smacks you to wake you up, are you going to be ready to wake up and listen? 

Consider the following questions for discussion and think about the upside of life smacking you upside the head as a wakeup call:

Share about a time in life when you finally had a wakeup call and decided to change. (Did life have to smack you more than once for you to finally listen?)

Statistically speaking, there are many situations in life in which if someone plays the odds and refuses to change, eventually things will catch up and there won’t be a happy ending. There may be exceptions to the rule but realistically speaking, discuss the most common ending in the following situations:

Cheating in relationships

Living a criminally oriented lifestyle

Abusing alcohol and drugs

Are there any other situations that the group can think of which most often do not have happy endings unless there is a change?

Sometimes learning from others can be a way to smack yourself to wake up and change before something bad happens to you. Be honest, what is one life situation (even if it is just a small one) that you need to readjust before something you regret might happen?

As always, to end on a positive note about taking some action, what is one thing that you can start doing now to change your course, even if just a little but toward a more positive direction?