Friday, May 11, 2012

Are You Strong Enough to Accept the Truth?

You may have heard of the five stages of grieving loss, described in On Death and Dying (1969), by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (1926-2004). The five stages are:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
Three things I like to keep in mind when considering this theory...
  • The important stage is the last one - acceptance - which is the goal of grieving.
  • The stages aren't rigid. They don't always happen in this order, and some people skip stages as they move towards acceptance.
  • I like to add a sixth stage after acceptance - affirmation. It's important to affirm what is real and natural and good, and that can only happen after acceptance.
I consider acceptance to be a personal strength, because most of the time you have to be strong to accept the way things are. To acknowledge a hard truth, such as "My beloved is dead," "My coworkers don't like my work," or "This habit is endangering my health," you have to face up to unpleasantness, perhaps even the hard work of doing something about it. So it's much easier to deny it.

But before you launch into accepting things, I encourage you to give some thought to what you're about to accept...

You could accept a lie, instead of the truth.

You could accept the way you wish things were, instead of acknowledging the way things really are.

You could accept nonsense, instead of seeking something valid, good and useful.

You could accept a miserable situation, instead of doing something about it.

You could accept negative, erroneous attitudes, instead of healthy, life-affirming ones.

You could accept poor quality, instead of insisting on high standards.

You could accept living with a problem, instead of doing something to solve it.

You could accept your shortcomings, rather than work on getting stronger.

Truth, reality, quality, balance, solutions, your best self - pursuing these can enrich you, but to make them a part of your life you'll have to be strong. You'll have to do the hard things.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use image purchased from

1 comment:

Beth said...

A perfect homily for me on this day. Thank you, Denny!