Acceptance is key, but what must I accept?

“Grant me serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

This is the third of three pieces on the obesity experience through the prism of the Serenity Prayer, triggered by ED advocates’ emphasis on fighting weight stigma. [BEDA | Rudd Center | Weight Stigma Conference] I’ve talked about wisdom to know what can be changed, and the courage to change, so now it’s time for some acceptance. [Part 1: Wisdom | Part 2: Courage.]

First, what does acceptance look like? I like the example of gravity: I accept that without mechanical aid, I cannot fly. I can object to that fact all I want, but my objection isn’t going to change the fact. Gravity is an unalterable fact.

That sort of acceptance is pretty easy — or ought to be, anyway — but many matters are open to interpretation. A good example for this context is those who have been heavier than they would like for a very long time. They have tried many times to be less heavy, only to fail, utterly or after only short-term success.

I know more than few people of that history who’ve decided just to accept that they’re going to be heavy forever. I certainly understand reaching that point: Having regained hundreds of pounds and finding myself — again, dammit! — above 300, I declared something similar more than once, though I have to say, strictly for myself, that that was self pity talking, more than any sober understanding of an undeniable destiny.

And, of course, I’ve now had 20 years-plus in a normal-sized body, so it would have been an incorrect conclusion. Regardless...

My observation is that it is these folks who militate against weight stigma: Look, this is how we are, deep down, so just get used to it.

Maybe for some people, that’s really true. But does focusing on how other people have to change deflect from what I have to change?

Happily, I have found middle ground, but  I couldn’t see it until I could accept the existence of paradox. One of the requests I make in prayer is “to accept myself as I am, even as I try to get better a day at a time.” That makes no sense, of course: Why accept a condition I find not good enough?

But I have found that change can’t begin without acceptance. Perhaps that’s where the ED advocates are coming from. I hope so.


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