For other uses, see Acceptance (disambiguation).

Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest it. The concept is close in meaning to 'acquiescence', derived from the Latin 'acquiēscere' (to find rest in).[1]


The term acceptance is a noun with three different meanings.[2]

The first is the act of taking or receiving something offered. For example, if someone is giving you a gift and you receive it, then you have accepted the gift; therefore, having acceptance.

Another definition of acceptance has to do with positive welcome and belonging; favor and endorsement. For instance, a person could like someone and have acceptance for them due to their approval of that person.

The third description of acceptance is that it can be an act of believing or assenting.

Acceptance - "An express act or implication by conduct that manifests assent to the terms of an offer in a manner invited or required by the offer so that a binding contract is formed. The exercise of power conferred by an offer by performance of some act. The act of a person to whom something is offered of tendered by another, whereby the offered demonstrates through an act invited by the offer an intention of retaining the subject of the offer." (Chirelstein, 2001)

This definition overlaps with the definition of the quality known as toleration. Acceptance and tolerance are not synonyms.

Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now, etc.) defines acceptance as a "this is it" response to anything occurring in any moment of life. There, strength, peace and serenity are available when one stops struggling to resist, or hang on tightly to what is so in any given moment. What do I have right now? Now what am I experiencing? The point is, can one be sad when one is sad, afraid when afraid, silly when silly, happy when happy, judgmental when judgmental, overthinking when overthinking, serene when serene, etc.


It should be recognized, before any breakdown to types, that acceptance is treating what happens, the actual event which is the outcome of all the combined previous events, as on balance the best outcome. Acceptance typically contains the concept of approval; it is important to note that the psychospiritual use of the term infers a non-judgmental mindset. Acceptance is contrasted with resistance, but that term has strong political and psychoanalytic connotations not applicable in many contexts. By groups and by individuals, acceptance can be of various events and conditions in the world; individuals may also accept elements of their own thoughts, feelings, and personal histories. For example, psychotherapeutic treatment of a person with depression or anxiety could involve fostering acceptance either for whatever personal circumstances may give rise to those feelings or for the feelings themselves. (Psychotherapy could also involve lessening an individual's acceptance of various situations.)

Notions of acceptance are prominent in many faiths and meditation practices. For example, Buddhism's first noble truth, "All life is suffering", invites people to accept that suffering is a natural part of life. The term "Kabbalah" means literally acceptance. Minority groups in society often describe their goal as "acceptance", wherein the majority will not challenge the minority's full participation in society. A majority may be said (at best) to "tolerate" minorities when it confines their participation to certain aspects of society. Acceptance is the fifth stage of the Kübler-Ross model (commonly known as the "stages of dying").

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes the importance of acceptance in the treatment of alcoholism. It states that acceptance can be used to resolve situations where a person feels disturbed by a "person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- [which is] unacceptable to me". It claims that an alcoholic person cannot find serenity until that person accepts that "nothing happens in God's world by mistake" and that the condition of alcoholism must be accepted as a given.[3]

Acceptance (12 Step definition).. To believe as fact...

Self acceptance

Main article: Self-acceptance

Self acceptance is being loving and happy with who you are now. It is an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept, and support who you are at this moment.

For example, think of acceptance of yourself like being okay with your house right now. One day you might want a bigger house or you have this dream house in your mind, but there are advantages to your smaller home now. So you can be happy with the house you have now and still dream of your bigger house as a reality later.

Self acceptance leads to a new life with new possibilities that did not exist before because you were caught up in the struggle against reality. People have trouble accepting themselves because of a lack of motivation. Some have the misconception that if you are happy with yourself you will not change things about yourself. This is not true; you don’t have to be unhappy with yourself to know and actively change things you don’t like.

Social acceptance

This figure shows changes in attitudes toward cohabitation in the US.

Social acceptance affects people of all sorts and includes children, teenagers, and adults. Social acceptance could be defined as the fact that most people, in order to fit in with others, attempt to look and act like them. Or sometimes it is the ability to accept or to tolerate differences and diversity in other people or groups of people.

Children and teenagers tend to do a lot of things to try to be accepted among friends, a phenomenon known as peer pressure. Peer pressure sometimes determines how they do their hair and what clothes they wear. A desire to be accepted by those whose friendship the child or teen values also determines the child's openness towards smoking, drinking, swearing,and much more.

Adults also exhibit certain behaviors (and avoid others) out of the desire for the acceptance and approval of their friends. To be one of the group, they might do some of the same things as teens and children (e.g. drinking or taking other drugs).

When it comes to mental disabilities, social acceptance plays a big role in recovery. Social acceptance is important because many people don't understand mental illness so they don't know how to embrace their friends or other people who have a disease, leaving these people with feelings of not being accepted in groups of friends.

Conditional or qualified

Standards specify acceptable and hazardous gaps in infant beds

A type of acceptance that requires modification(s) of the conditions before the final acceptance is made. For example, a contract that needs to be accepted from two parties may be adjusted or modified so that it fits both parties’ satisfactions. A person has been made an offer that they are willing to agree as long as some changes are made in its terms or that some conditions or event occurs. A business contract that is made from the business to the employer, both parties may change and modify the contract until both parties agree or accept the details in the business contract.


A type of acceptance that involves making an overt and unambiguous acceptance of the set conditions. For example, a person clearly and explicitly agrees to an offer. They accept the terms without any changes. A person agrees to pay a draft that is presented for payment.


A type of acceptance that is not clearly expressed, but an intent to consent to the presented conditions is made. For example, acceptance is implied by demonstrating any act indicates a person's assent to the proposed bargain. A lady selects an item in a department store and pays the cashier for it. The lady has indicated that she has agreed to the department stores owner's offer to sell the item for the price stated on the price tag.


Acceptance is fundamental to the core dogma of most Abrahamic religions: the word "Islam" can be translated as "acceptance", "surrender" or "voluntary submission",[4][5] and Christianity is based upon the "acceptance" of Jesus of Nazareth as the "Christ" and could be compared to some Eastern religious concepts such as Buddhist mindfulness. Religions and psychological treatments often suggest the path of acceptance when a situation is both disliked and unchangeable, or when change may be possible only at great cost or risk. Acceptance may imply only a lack of outward, behavioral attempts at possible change, but the word is also used more specifically for a felt or hypothesized cognitive or emotional state.

Within Christian beliefs acceptance is characterized as embracing the reality of a situation without necessarily agreeing that the event is moral, right, or just.

In the Muslim community, acceptance of Allah as their higher being is similar to people that are considered Christian and how they accept God as their higher being (Bates, 2002) .

As for Judaism it has showed to have some similar beliefs in that they accept the Commandments as a way to live and have a good and fulfilling life (Mcdowell and Stewart, 1983). Beliefs can be used in different ways to be related to acceptance especially in everyday life although beliefs may be more based on religion.

Beliefs and acceptance overlap. However, they can be very diverse. The acceptance of one's beliefs is important to show commitment and structure of one's life. Not only is it vital for survival, it is a utility that is used in everyday relationships. For a single person to be accepted from a friend of theirs has shown to affect an individual’s self-esteem and well being. In fact, without the acceptance, it could lead to a host of psychological issues.


  1. "Acquiesce - Define Acquiesce at".
  2. "Acceptance - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary".
  3. Dr Paul O, "The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous" P449, 3rd ed or P417, 4th ed.
  4. Lewis, Bernard Ellis; Churchill, Buntzie Ellis (2009). Islam: The Religion and the People. Pearson Education Inc. p. 8.
  5. admin. "What does ISLAM mean?". The Friday Journal. Retrieved 13 April 2012.


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