The Difference Between “Allow” And “Accept”

What is the difference between allowing and accepting? On the surface these two ideas seem the same, perhaps because they are close cousins, but understanding the difference between them can make a world of difference in your life.

Typically when we think of these ideas, we are thinking primarily in terms of acceptance. Many spiritual paths tell us to be accepting of whatever happens… that we should take things in stride or turn the other cheek. This is emphasized particularly strongly in relation to things that bring us pain and ‘deciding’ how we want to feel about something. Simply put, accepting means that whatever happens to us is ‘okay’ and if we are able to just accept these things, then we will not create the internal struggles which cause suffering. This is what Buddha was trying to communicate about the source of suffering.

Allowing comes from a different place, though. While accepting is something we can do after an event, allowing is something that happens before an event. We must open ourselves up to allow something to happen. Allowing can take many forms, whether it be the patience to wait for an opportunity, or learning a new skill to be open for when that opportunity arises. When we wait in stillness, this allowing enables us to spring into action when the right opportunity arises. “Right” isn’t meant in the sense of “right and wrong,” but rather, in the sense of being in the flow… of understanding innately what your spirit feels drawn to connect with.

When we combine both allowing and accepting, we enable a powerful force within us. This force is tied to (or just is) our essence… it knows what our soul yearns for, and it knows how to get it. The allowing helps position us for the right opportunity, and the acceptance enables us to be grateful for whatever opportunities come to us. Even things we perceive as ‘bad’ are wonderful, beautiful opportunities which teach us invaluable lessons.

By allowing ourselves to be taught these lessons, we again move into the stillness until we spring into action again. Another opportunity arises, and we accept whatever the outcome is. Perhaps this time we are successful in embodying what our soul yearns for, or perhaps we have yet another lesson to learn… to allow… and then to accept.

The relationship between allowing and accepting is intertwined and cyclical. When both are synchronizing in harmony, then we fall into a flow of mysterious, magical, amazing wonderment as our life unfolds before us with continued experiences of joy and synchronicity. With that in mind, here are a few reflection questions:

Reflection #1: How could being more allowing in my life reduce some of the stresses I feel?

Reflection #2: What part of myself or my life am I unable to accept right now? Why not?