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Self acceptance is a gift which is best kept to yourself. It’s the same with accepting one’s situation. It seems that some people would rather we suffer and rail against our fate, even though we ourselves have come to terms with a difficult stuation.

Chronic illness is an example. It can debilitating enough without having to manage the reactions of those around you. I knew one person who, when she received a diagnosis of what later proved to be a terminal illness, simply stopped seeing about half of her friends because of what she called “their attitude about my life.”

I remembered this when I was speaking a friend who has had to deal with the life-changes that living with chronic illness can bring. After a few years’ struggle he had come to a point where he realised that he is more than his illness, and that he would not let it define him. He accepted it as unavoidable and got on with his life.

Although it limits what he can do, it need not hamper his ability to live his life well. Sure, he said “I had to get my head around what my condition means to me. I learned to approach everything by looking at the possibilities for me, rather than the impossibilities as defined by others.”

So he spoke about how, to protect his self acceptance, he had learned to stay away from other people’s opinions, which he said, were overwhelmingly negative. “If I’d listened to any more of it I’d never have been able to hang onto my optimism, I’d have been swamped by their negativity and pessimism. I  had to do a lot of filtering out of what professionals and others told me the limitations would be.”

For example, he told me, when his diagnosis was confirmed he had as yet virtually no noticeable symptoms, but the doctor helpfully handed me a wheelchair brochure!

That was several years ago and the anticipated infirmity still hasn’t shown itself. “If I’ve learned one thing from this, it is that other people act as if it’s not acceptable to accept yourself. My advice? If you are happy with yourself as you are, keep it to yourself and get on with your life”, he said.

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