Why Acceptance is Essential in Your Healing Journey

Why Acceptance is Essential in Your Healing Journey | Hopeful Panda

Acceptance is essential in your healing journey. To be able to begin healing, it’s important to embrace acceptance.

When talking about acceptance, some people might mistake it for approval, tolerance, giving up, or even fondness. While the word acceptance can mean any of these in other contexts, the acceptance I will be covering in this post is different.

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What Is Acceptance?

In regards to this post and healing, acceptance means recognizing a situation, condition, or process without attempts to deny, avoid, change, or go against it.

In this case, accepting something does not mean you like it, approve of it, or that you got over it. It simply means acknowledgment – acknowledging what has happened, what’s happening, and what can possibly happen.

In his book, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, John Kabat-Zinn explains it well:

“Acceptance doesn’t mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is – especially when you don’t like it – and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.”

To heal, you must accept your past, your parents, your journey ahead, and most importantly, yourself.

Why is Acceptance Essential in Healing?

Acceptance is necessary because there are things we can’t change. So sometimes, accepting is the only thing you can do in order to move forward and begin healing.

What happened already happened. What is happening is already happening. Acceptance may be your only choice because denying or resisting won’t make it go away.

Without acceptance, you stay stuck in “if only”. And if onlys are all wishful thinking, keeping you trapped in a fantasy. When you don’t accept something, you can’t do anything about it. You don’t have to fully accept something. But some degree of acceptance is needed for change to happen.

Many people suffering from the effects of childhood abuse are unaware of their origins because they can’t accept the abuse they faced. They don’t know why they keep ending up with toxic partners, why they’re constantly depressed or insecure, or why they struggle with a harsh inner voice.

We can’t change our past or how it affected us. We can’t change our parents or what they’ve done to us. So there’s nothing we can do but to accept this reality so we can move forward. You can’t move on from your trauma if you don’t accept that it happened.

Denial or avoidance keeps you from healing. Some abused victims end up becoming abusers themselves because they push away their trauma rather than face, accept, and heal from it. To keep yourself from following in your parent’s footsteps, it’s important to acknowledge what happened to you.

This doesn’t mean you have to relive your trauma. It simply means accepting the fact that something bad happened to you.

Accept that your parents hurt you. Accept that their behavior affected you.

Things to Accept in Your Healing Journey

Here are some things you have to accept, at least to some degree, to be able to start moving forward and begin healing.

Acceptance of your past

To be able to accept that your parent was abusive and unloving, you have to stop telling yourself “If only I was a better child” or “If only they had better parents”.

Try not to focus on the “why”, because you may never get to the bottom of it. You’ll never truly know why your parents are the way they are or why they treated you the way they did. Healing comes from looking at what happened, how it affected you, and what you can do about it now.

Accept that you can’t change the past or what happened. Accept that you can’t change how the past made you feel or how it shaped you into who you are today. And accept that what you experienced was abuse.

You can’t change the past or your parent’s behavior or actions. All you can change is yourself.

Acceptance of your parents

Accept your parents as they are. This does not mean you are condoning their behavior, but that you accept that they’re flawed human beings.

Accepting your parents as they are doesn’t mean you approve of or like their abuse towards you. It doesn’t mean you have to love them, either. (But it’s okay if you do)

Accepting your parent simply means you’ve accepted that that is who they are and how they behave. Accepting means you can let go of the fantasy of who you want them to be.

Accept that your abusive parents will never change regardless of what you might think, hope, or what they might say. It’s better that you accept this now to avoid further pain in the future. Realize that most abusers are incapable of love, affection, and empathy.

If you have trouble accepting this, remind yourself of all the times when they said they would change or that you thought they would. Did they? Or did they end up letting you down? If they’ve let you down time and time again, why would that suddenly be different?

By accepting your parents for who they are along with all their flaws and inabilities, you also accept that they were your parents and that you can’t replace them (unless you’re in a situation where you can “literally” replace them like being adopted).

Unable to accept this truth will cause you to constantly search for someone or something in your life to fill your parental void.

You might try to find a partner in your life to replace the parent you’ve missed out on. You could become codependent or too dependent in relationships. And you may rely on others to meet your needs or even feel entitled to them.

Once you’ve accepted your parents for who they are,

  • You’ll no longer wish or hope that your parents will change or have expectations regarding them
  • You won’t be in search of someone or something to replace them
  • You’ll meet your own needs rather than try to get them met in relationships
  • When someone is there for you, you’ll see it as an added blessing rather than something that’s owed to you

You need to be willing to grieve the loss. You need to understand that you can’t go back and get it. And acknowledge that you can’t really make it happen with someone else.

You might still hold on to positive memories of your parents and wish you could experience them again. But recognize that you don’t need to stop holding on to those memories to start healing. 

You can still love parts of your parents while still noticing that their behavior makes it difficult or even impossible for you to safely maintain a relationship with them.

Acceptance of your healing journey

Accepting your healing journey means accepting that it will be difficult and full of ups and downs.

This can be a tough pill to swallow but accepting the fact that what’s to come won’t be easy might actually make it easier to deal with. Because when hardships or obstacles arise, you already expect them and are hopefully prepared for them.

Also, healing will not be a linear journey. There will be ups and downs. So it can be easy to feel frustrated and discouraged whenever you seem to hit a wall or fall a few steps back. But please understand that struggling and relapses are a part of the process.

Remember that healing doesn’t happen overnight. And this may sound discouraging, but it will likely be a lifelong journey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still live a fulfilling life. It takes work but it is possible to reach a point where your past is simply that, a thing of the past.

See 15 Things to Remember for Your Healing Journey for more.

Acceptance of yourself

The abuse you faced left some effects on you that shaped who you are. And that can be hard to accept. But try to accept yourself for who you are now and who you were before. Focus on the fact that from now on, you have the choice to be who you want to be and do what you want to do.

I know I mentioned that acceptance in this post does not mean approval or fondness. However, this is an exception. Of course, you can absolutely approve of and be fond of yourself.

You experienced a difficult thing and you made it through. Yes, you’re left with scars and issues stemming from the trauma you experienced. And that will take time to work through. But try to find strength in your scars and notice the good that’s in you.

Maybe you’re an empathetic and kind person. Maybe you promise to never treat your children the same way your parents treated you. Recognize the good that is in you in spite of the dark parts.

And as you continue on this journey, try to set realistic expectations for yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. Be patient with this process.

Why Acceptance is Essential in Your Healing Journey | Hopeful Panda

What Does Acceptance Look Like?

Just the process of acceptance itself will take a while. But please note that acceptance isn’t all-or-nothing.

For instance, you may accept that your parents have hurt you but may not yet have accepted that they’re abusive or intentionally hurtful. Many abusive parents are incapable of love, so just needing to accept that they didn’t love you can be a process itself.

So just because you haven’t fully accepted an aspect does not mean you can’t work on other things in your healing process. Besides, accepting anything 100% is incredibly hard to do, perhaps even impossible.

Remember, there is no right way to heal. I’m still working on acceptance. But I can also be working on something else at the same time.

For healing, there is no timeline or guide to follow. I’d like to think we’re learning, surviving, healing, and thriving all at the same time in different aspects. Healing is complex. To simplify it is impossible. So do it your way.

On top of acceptance, you can also work on reparenting yourself, forming a support network, practicing self-compassion, learning healthy coping skills, and so on.

Acceptance Both Is & Isn’t the First Step in Healing

Okay, I know this seems confusing. So let me explain.

Acceptance is oftentimes considered the first step in healing. And that makes sense. You need to acknowledge the issue at hand before you can do anything to resolve it. Not being able to accept certain things can keep you from moving forward.

So some degree of acceptance is needed to jumpstart the healing process, such as accepting that you’ve dealt with trauma and that you’ll need to put in the effort to heal.

However, acceptance is the final stage in the grieving process. Healing involves grieving. Grieving for the parents and childhood you missed out. Grieving for the you that couldn’t exist or the potential you couldn’t meet because of the trauma.

So during healing, it’s also very important for you to give yourself the time you need to process everything and properly grieve. So if you can’t reach acceptance yet, that’s okay. Patience is a huge part of the healing journey, too.

On top of that, acceptance is also needed in various ways throughout this journey. For instance, you’ll have to accept uncomfortable emotions in order to work through them. You’ll have to accept that there are challenging things out of your control that’ll happen to you. That’s just life.

The bottom line is to first be able to accept the broader ideas so that you can begin your healing process and start moving forward. But also give yourself enough time to process things. Don’t rush or push yourself to accept things you aren’t ready to accept yet.


Acceptance isn’t just needed for our healing journeys. It’s needed for every aspect of living. I think it’s an important element of living. When things out of our control happen, acceptance is all we can do. It’s the only way we can move on from something rough, difficult, or stressful.

We have to accept the things we cannot change or things out of our control. And we should focus on what we CAN change.

We can’t change the past or our parents or how either of those shaped us. But we can choose to do something about it now and begin healing so we can live the life we want.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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