I saw an anxiety blog today, where the author was touting the benefits of acceptance in managing anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, this is a rather crude and concrete method, that should only be taught to children. As adults, we need more sophisticated and elegant ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, given that the demands, situations, and thinking of adults is much more complex and difficult than that of children.
I’m not saying acceptance is inaccurate or even wrong. What I’m saying is that it is too simple for adult needs. A more elegant and sophisticated method to manage anxiety and stress is to adopt the concept of giving way, which I explain in detail in another article: Giving Way To Anxiety Is About Learning To Deal With Uncertainty.
Acceptance in children is developmentally-appropriate, as it is concrete and simple enough to address children’s concrete thinking, as they rely less on abstraction. More advanced concepts beyond acceptance would not be effective in children.
In contrast, adults need a more abstract method to deal with anxiety and stress. When someone tells me as a shrink about acceptance (imagine that people try to teach me about shrink things- ha!), my eyes immediately roll over. The reason for this reaction is that the concreteness of acceptance insults the intelligence of most adults. This is where the concept of giving way is more age-appropriate for adults.
Using acceptance as an adult is like giving in to your anxiety. So the method of accepting your situation for what it is, is just like giving in. You resign yourself to the reality of the situation when you engage in ‘radical’ acceptance- you are giving in.
So don’t give in- give way.
However, notice the subtleties of giving way. When you give way, it is also an exercise into looking at the reality of your situation, but it is about seeing it in a different light, where the situation is observed and classified, but you do not have to make it part of your being, and you virtually ‘pass’ it as you give way to it. Why would you want to accept and make such horrendous thing a part of you? Radical acceptance just sounds too stressful…it is more elegant and sophisticated to give way.
Now I know what you are saying…ya, here’s a doctor who is a snob, and only wants to talk about sophisticated models, and not the simple, amateur ones! But I’m not throwing out the baby with the bath water. Acceptance has its role for children, and some adults with concrete thinking- in these cases, acceptance is better than nothing. But if you had a choice, would you rather drive a Lexus, or a Chevy?
Acceptance is about embracing your anxious thoughts…but why would you want to do that, if you had a choice to deploy a more elegant and sophisticated method? Acceptance is about giving in to your anxiety. It is better to give way to your anxiety, rather than accept it.
Don’t give in- give way.