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?

Further Reflections on Allow vs. Accept

The difference between allowing and accepting is subtle yet transformative. It's akin to the distinction between preparation and response. Allowing precedes the unfolding of events; it's the art of making space for possibilities without forcing outcomes. Acceptance, on the other hand, is the art of embracing those outcomes with grace and understanding, regardless of their nature.

When delving deeper into this dichotomy, one discovers that allowing is the canvas upon which the strokes of life are painted. It's an active state of readiness, an inner posture of openness and flexibility. Much like a seed nestled in the soil, it doesn't dictate when or how it will sprout but trusts in the conditions to align for growth. This mindset invites a profound sense of peace as it relinquishes the need to control every aspect of existence.

Acceptance, conversely, blooms from the aftermath—the moment when the seed has already grown. It's the serene acknowledgment that whatever unfolds is neither good nor bad but simply is. It's the understanding that resistance to the present moment only fuels suffering. Acceptance doesn't imply passivity; rather, it signifies empowerment through embracing reality as it unfolds.

Combining both allowing and accepting initiates a dance with the universe. Allowing prepares us to navigate the ebbs and flows, attuning our senses to the rhythm of life. It's the patient stance of a surfer, waiting for the perfect wave. Yet, without acceptance, the ride feels incomplete. Acceptance is riding that wave with gratitude, reveling in the experience, whether it's a smooth glide or a thrilling crash.

The amalgamation of these principles unlocks a formidable force within us—the synergy of aligning intentions with outcomes. By allowing ourselves to align with the current of life, we position ourselves for synchronicity and serendipity. This synergy doesn't eradicate challenges; rather, it reframes them as stepping stones for growth, casting even the most challenging situations as conduits for learning.

In contemplating these concepts, one might reflect on how being more allowing could alleviate stresses. The burden of trying to micromanage every facet of life often leads to anxiety. Allowing invites a shift in perspective, relinquishing the need for control and embracing trust in the unfolding of events.

Furthermore, exploring areas of life that resist acceptance unveils potent opportunities for introspection. Identifying these pockets of resistance offers a chance to investigate the underlying causes. Is it fear, conditioning, or a clash between expectations and reality? Understanding these barriers becomes the gateway to practicing acceptance.

In essence, the interplay of allowing and accepting unveils a path toward harmonizing with life's intricate tapestry. It's an invitation to dance with uncertainty, acknowledging that in the cadence of allowing and the grace of acceptance, lies the melody of a life well-lived.

Personal Reflection Questions

Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this blog post:

  1. Begin by contemplating moments in your life when allowing and accepting played distinct roles. Can you recall instances where you had to actively allow for possibilities before accepting the outcomes?
  2. Reflect on the concept of allowing as the canvas of life. How does the idea of making space for possibilities resonate with your current approach to challenges and opportunities?
  3. Explore the analogy of a seed in the soil when considering allowing. How can adopting an attitude of readiness and openness enhance your sense of peace and trust in the unfolding of life?
  4. Consider moments of acceptance in your life. Can you identify situations where embracing outcomes without judgment brought a sense of serenity and understanding?
  5. Ponder the synergy between allowing and accepting. How does the dance between these two states empower you to align intentions with outcomes?
  6. Reflect on the analogy of a surfer waiting for the perfect wave. In what areas of your life could adopting a patient stance, akin to allowing, enhance your experience and navigation of life's ebbs and flows?
  7. Explore the idea that acceptance doesn't imply passivity but signifies empowerment. How can accepting the present moment empower you to engage with reality more authentically?
  8. Contemplate the burden of trying to micromanage every facet of life and its connection to stress. How might embracing the concept of allowing alleviate stresses associated with the need for control?
  9. Examine areas of life that resist acceptance. What insights can you gain by investigating the underlying causes of resistance, be it fear, conditioning, or clashes between expectations and reality?
  10. Consider the overarching theme of harmonizing with life's intricate tapestry. How does the interplay of allowing and accepting invite you to dance with uncertainty and embrace the melody of a life well-lived?