Vet Wellness Briefs: Learning Acceptance
Adopting an accepting mindset can help veterinarians move away from judgment and find more peace in life.
Smiling vet standing next to grey horse, practicing acceptance, experiencing greater joy.
Learning to accept life’s uncertainties can lead to greater joy in life and in veterinary practice. | Getty Images

Acceptance can refer to being accepted by others or practicing acceptance ourselves. A positive work environment in which employees are supported by their colleagues and are encouraged to develop new skills without fear of judgment can lead to greater job satisfaction and happiness. Because human beings need belonging and connection with others, feeling acceptable and accepted is crucial. This is the foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 

Acceptance in the Workplace

Creating a workplace culture in which everyone matters, every person’s contribution is valued, and differences are not only accepted but expected, is not an easy task. All people have inherent biases and different lived experiences that color their perspectives and shape their behaviors. By becoming more aware of the differences between people, we can broaden our understanding and acceptance of different ways to achieve the same goals, different opinions on the same issue, and different options for solving a problem. Once we accept that our approach isn’t necessarily the only way and that our perspective is only one of many, we can communicate more effectively and achieve better outcomes. 

Acceptance of Uncontrolled Events

Beyond our acceptance of different people and perspectives is the acceptance of the life that unfolds before us. Life is full of uncontrolled events that can upend the most carefully laid plans. As John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” Unexpected tragic losses and unanticipated joys punctuate most people’s lives. The inconveniently timed pregnancy that yields a beloved child. The disappointment of rejection from a particular college that ends with meeting your spouse at the school you attend instead. The heartbreak of a loved one’s death leading to successful efforts to change the world for the better of others.  

Moving Away from Negative Thoughts

The hard reality is you will live with more peace and joy when you learn to accept life’s curveballs and stop resisting them. It’s challenging to practice acceptance when you deeply wish things were different, but for the realities over which we have no control, it is the best path. While it is natural in hindsight to reflect on how a certain situation might have been different, returning to these thoughts repeatedly can negatively impact our mental health. Ruminating about how past events—especially negative or traumatic ones—ought to or could have been can prevent healing. In fact, getting stuck in this repetitive process can reinforce or intensify the emotions attached to these events, making it even more difficult to move forward. Practicing acceptance can help us move away from negative thought patterns. 

In this context, acceptance means fully acknowledging the facts of a situation and not fixating on how it shouldn’t have happened that way. We cannot change the past, and an accepting mindset moves us away from harsh judgment of ourselves, allowing us to break from thoughts of guilt or unfairness. By accepting our feelings fully rather than pushing them away, we can name them, accept them, treat ourselves with kindness, and move on with our lives in an uncertain but glorious world of possibilities. 

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