Many recovery treatments will focus on certain words or phrases. For some, this can be an in-depth exploration of voice, or looking at “all or nothing” vocabulary in words like “need,” “definitely,” or “impossible.” There is a reason that the vocabulary that someone uses and employs is so important in recovery. The words that someone chooses are gateways to the emotional power behind them.
If recovery involves changing one’s mind and outlook on the world, the vocabulary that someone uses also needs to change. Another couple of words that are important to differentiate are “understanding” and “acceptance.” While these two are certainly related in many ways, there is a key difference between the two that makes studying them especially important.
Understanding the Past
Addressing addiction requires someone to look at their past in order to find their triggers and other environmental factors that may have contributed to their drug or alcohol use. Understanding these triggers is very important. Understanding what someone likes and dislikes—or what may be dangerous for them specifically—in recovery can help inform their decisions regarding how they choose to form their social circles.
However, understanding and accepting are still not necessarily the same thing. Understanding involves looking at these different aspects objectively and creating a connection between the events and the education that comes with recovery. However, understanding something about one’s self or the recovery process doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is happy about the sacrifices that they may have to make.
Understanding the mistakes that someone has made doesn’t mean that they have forgiven themselves, allowed themselves to move on from their mistakes, or healed properly. Understanding something is a practice that looks to the past. Dwelling on the past carries its own dangers though, and acceptance is the process of using understanding as a resource to define one’s future.
Acceptance Is More than Understanding
Acceptance is a necessary part of someone’s recovery. However, it is often extraordinarily uncomfortable. Acceptance involves someone looking back at their past and understanding the mistakes that they have made, and also acknowledging that those mistakes are a part of their identity. Mistakes and poor decisions are a difficult aspect of someone’s past, but changing past actions isn’t the point of recovery.
Acceptance can happen when someone knows that they made mistakes and begins the process of forgiving themselves. Acceptance is not just internalizing that someone did something, but knowing why they did it, and coming to terms with its effects.
Acceptance can also take the form of someone accepting their own identity. Someone can understand that they want to pursue a hobby, but they may not do anything about it if they think that they will be judged or embarrassed for various reasons. Acceptance of one’s self helps someone put aside these feelings and places them in control of their own identity, allowing them to pursue whatever interests they have without the fear of judgment from others.
The Necessity of Being Accepted
Being accepted is another aspect that needs to be addressed during the process of recovery. Community and strong social circles are paramount in recovery, as they allow someone to practice social skills and express themselves through difficult times. However, finding a place where someone belongs can be a difficult prospect.
Acceptance isn’t just someone expressing their identity, it also involves allowing someone else to accept them for who they are, mistakes and all. This part of acceptance may be the most difficult for some. In order to be accepted by others, a person must be vulnerable.
Allowing one’s self to be accepted involves not just openly acknowledging the past and one’s decisions, but being willing to move forward toward the future even amidst the fear and guilt that they may feel. Acceptance is the framework for growing trust and building on relationships, as well as improving someone’s self-image.
It can be difficult to be positive each day if someone lives hidden in their shame. It can be challenging to have meaningful interactions with others if someone struggles with accepting their identity. Acceptance breeds the beginnings of forgiveness, which is a necessary component in rebuilding trust and love in personal relationships.
Understanding the facts and evidence is the first step in exploring one’s past. Acceptance can occur when someone internalizes these findings and embraces being vulnerable, in order to explore each step of their future.
Understanding and acceptance are abstract concepts that each person will engage with differently. They are personal journeys, much like each step of recovery. Lighthouse Recovery understands the unique and personal needs that each person seeks in recovery. If you are struggling with addiction and its co-occurring mental health disorders, there is a program that can be catered to your life, your needs, and your goals in recovery. With many different addiction treatment programs, such as our partial hospitalization program in Dallas, and a personalized, holistic approach to each patient, Lighthouse Recovery prides itself on developing meaningful relationships between each patient and professional.