Acceptance: The step you’re missing to emotional healing

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During the holidays, we had a couple of fish die. One was a yellow lab, and after its death the only other yellow lab in the tank looked lost. Then my husband bought another yellow lab. Upon its arrival into the aquarium, the surviving yellow lab instantly swam over to it and they accepted each other. This got me to thinking about acceptance and why it’s crucial for our success in both this world and the next.

What is acceptance?

Acceptance is what happens when we stop fighting and resisting whatever it is that is affecting us emotionally. Definitely, what has happened cannot be changed. But by accepting what has happened, we stop waiting for worldly justice and move on with our lives. Why is that a big deal?

What’s wrong with waiting for worldly justice?

Waiting for justice is an immense stress on the body, as it is a heavy emotional state to remain in. The expression “waiting for the other shoe to drop” comes to mind. We begin to feel empty, impotent, and helpless. On top of this, a more permanent victim mentality can take over.

The reality is, however, that worldly justice isn’t guaranteed. Innumerable people are violated in this world. Many of them never see their oppressors even questioned about what happened, much less punished for it. To reject this fact, that people don’t always get to see justice in their lives, is insanity.

Accept it.

So I just accept?

Acceptance doesn’t mean you give up. You can still accept and use that as motivation to help others. Your rights can be sought through the legal channels by filing charges or anything else available to you. You can definitely wait for Divine Justice if your attempts at seeking justice in this world fall short.

The difference here is accepting reality and then choosing what actions to do next. Those who jump straight to action and never accept frequently find themselves torn apart, unless they achieve their goals.

What about the deen?

The best part about acceptance, however, is that you are submitting to Allah ta’ala. It is He who created us with free will, and you are accepting His Will. Have trust in your Lord who said:

“For certainly, with difficulty comes ease. Certainly, with difficulty comes ease.” Surah Ash Sharh, Ayahs 5-6

Please note: The fact that something was willed by Allah does not mean that Allah ta’ala wants you to suffer. Do not confuse the Will of Allah and the Pleasure of Allah. Allah has willed that we have freedom of choice. Unfortunately, that means that humans can choose to be horrible to each other. But such is the nature of our test as a creation.

Is it really that simple?

Yes. Accept whatever you contributed to and then accept what you had no control over. Then move forward in life.

This of course doesn’t mean things go back to the way they were before. For example, a victim of violent crime may have memories triggered by certain things. He might be more vigilant in his personal security than he previously was. But if something triggers memories of the past, it will not take over his thoughts and derail him. His attempts at seeking more security will be done not out of fear but out of lessons learned from his past.

Thinking back to the fish, I can’t help but envy their simple acceptance of each other. A human in a similar situation, who lost a loved one and then another person was sent to replace them, could react very differently. They could taint that new relationship by constantly grieving over the deceased, to the point that their new relationship was stagnated or even ignored. They might even choose to reject anyone else who wants to be close, simply out of fear of being bereaved again!

(And yes, when it comes to mating fish do sometimes reject each other. I’m speaking about a specific incident.)

What if I accept and then I stop accepting?

Then your acceptance wasn’t complete. That’s OK, just try to figure out specifically what stopped you from completely accepting and try again. Work through it a thousand times if you need to. You can even enlist the help of a counselor or therapist if it feels too heavy for you.


Further reading

Once I Know Why by Zaid Ismail



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