Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


A key concept in recovery - and healing - is acceptance.

We read about it in the 12-step literature on page 417. It might be one the most quoted passages in 12-literature.  And it's also a key idea in other disciplines.

We find it in mindfulness meditation. We're taught that while meditating to observe our passing thoughts - and then accept them.

My mindfulness instructor teaches me to accept them all - the good, bad, and the ugly. Accept them and let them pass by. This non-critical acceptance of our thoughts is a catalyst for change.

So what are the benefits of acceptance? I mean, is it a cure-all?

Of course not. But many of us go through life in a state of denial about things that are obvious. Instead of accepting what's going on, we hope things will change on their own. We try to shape the world to our wants, rather than accept things as they are.

For example, I know someone whose marriage is unraveling to the point that he's left the house. He’s not accepting the breakup, but he’s also not paying attention to the reasons they split. And he won't change unless he recognizes his part.  And now he's living in turmoil - and looking at what she's done.

Acceptance is the foundation of change. If we don't accept what the doctor says about health issues then we'll remain unhealthy. We won't quit smoking. Or eating a lot processed food. We won't exercise.

I know a talented college-educated woman who's blind to her anger issues. It's obvious to those around her because she's lost everything. Her marriage, her home, her business, and personal relationships are gone. But, she doesn't accept her part in any of it. It's always someone or something else. Lack of acceptance is a cloud over her life.

When I find acceptance of whatever is going on then I can make changes if they're needed. And that's freedom. Even when it's painful.