In the wake of the recent Brexit result, where the British people voted by a slim majority to exit the European Union, many colleagues and friends were disappointed, angry or bewildered by the result, so I thought it might be useful to talk about acceptance.

How do you accept when things don’t go your way?

Perhaps the Brexit result is symbolic of many events or issues we face in life whereby things don’t go our way and when that happens it can be hard to accept. Perhaps you missed out on that job or promotion? What about being rejected for that course at a university? Perhaps someone you loved ended a relationship with you? How do you cope with bad news generally?

So, using the Brexit result as an example, what if you believe the result was wrong and it will cause immense damage to Britain, to you personally or even to Europe, Australia and the rest of the world? How can you possibly accept that?

Acceptance simply means accepting something has occurred. Nothing more.

Accepting that something has occurred does not mean you have to accept it will be like that forever. It also does not mean you have to agree with the Brexit result or condone it.

Acceptance allows us to put our ego’s to one side in order to understand why decisions and events occur. In this instance, it allows us to understand why so many British people voted to leave the European Union, regardless if we disagree with the decision. While anger and resentment are common and normal responses, ultimately it clouds our judgement, increases stress levels and in turn our own suffering. Anger has an inverse relationship with creativity and innovation which means we reduce our power to influence change, and paradoxically keep ourselves stuck experiencing situations or events we don’t like.

The faster we are able to realise life events are not personal attacks on us (as much as it may feel like it at the time), we are able to accept decisions and find creative and positive ways to start influencing how we want things to be moving forward. Acceptance becomes easier when we slow life down, become aware of our tendency to react and offer more compassion to see life from another perspective.

For example, some people have said that those who voted to for Britain to leave the European Union had xenophobic or racist motives in regard to reducing immigration into Britain. Does this mean we have to accept racism or xenophobia? No.

It simply means we accept this may have been part of the motivation. If we accept this to be a motivation and open up to understanding why, we might find people who hold these views maybe be living a fearful existence. They may have had an upbringing where xenophobia was promoted and encouraged. They may have had limited education which did not afford the opportunity to experience and relate to other cultures. Or they may simply be full on anger and fear and have their own judgement clouded.

By taking the time to understand this, we are much more likely to influence change for the better and thus increase our ability to cope and move forward in a positive way, without enduring high levels of personal suffering along the way.