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Is Acceptance a Form of Weakness or Defeat?

acceptance work in progress

Someone commented recently that to accept something you don’t like about yourself is a form of defeat.

When I asked what the issue was, he replied, “I can’t accept my height. I’m too short. I feel like if I were to accept it, I’d be giving in. I don’t want it to matter to me at all. I want to be indifferent around the issue.”

We’re playing with words here, but the central issue in this example has to do with accepting what you cannot change.

We could put acceptance into two categories.

Things that you:

  • Cannot change
  • Can change

In any of the above cases, is accepting the facts a form of personal defeat?


A defeat means you’ve lost a contest that you could have won. Acceptance is another matter entirely.

Accepting what you cannot change – like your height – is not a defeat because height is not negotiable. You can neither win or lose with this issue because you had no choice in the matter. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your non-changeable height as a way to feel defeated, as if you had a choice or did something to merit your height as a form of punishment. 

In other words, this could be paradigm-inspired self-sabotage —  in which you’re giving yourself a guaranteed failure. By viewing “accepting” as a “defeat” and therefore “refusing to accept” or “continuing to demand change”  as the path to victory, you might be guaranteeing a sense of failure. In reality, this is not a win/lose situation. It’s just a fact that you cannot change.

Accepting something you can change is not a victory or a defeat, either.

For example, your weight. Within reason, your weight is something you can influence. Whether you choose to influence it or not, accepting your current weight is, again, a separate issue.

If anything, accepting your current weight might help to motivate you toward weight-loss efforts. You may choose to berate yourself for being your current weight.. This indicates a lack of acceptance.

Still, whether or not you move forward to lose weight is a separate issue. Whether or not you accept your current weight, moving forward to lose weight is an option. Acceptance and progress on the issue are separate issues.

The advantage of accepting

In any case, accepting your situation reduces resistance and brings greater peace within. We’re all a work in progress.

Is Acceptance a Form of Weakness or Defeat?

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2019). Is Acceptance a Form of Weakness or Defeat?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Mar 2019
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