Yonasan Bender
Psychotherapist and Clinical Director of Jerusalem Therapy

Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Agreement

A fair amount of people are uncomfortable with the topic of acceptance. This is because the idea of acceptance gets wrapped up in another complicated idea – agreement. While acceptance might lead to agreement, the two concepts are quite different. Acceptance is the opposite of denial and self-motivated blindness. It’s taking on the reality of the world and one’s personal life as objectively as possible – warts and all. Acceptance is planting oneself in reality, as it is, without condition. It is a stance of willingness as opposed to willfulness.

Once rooted in reality, once you actively push back against denial, only then does the world open up. Possibilities reveal themselves. Sure, we have our reasons to use denial. It’s the most common self-defense mechanism to pain. There’s no short supply of pain in life. But, denial takes you out of the world and lands you in a distorted house of mirrors. Being more in touch with reality might be painful. It might even be the last thing you want to do. Yet, it is the best way to protect yourself, collect all the facts, and really see where you are going.

While acceptance is taking reality as it is, agreeing with it, or not, is the next step. While acceptance is a science, agreement and disagreement certainly aren’t. These two choices are a moral act in response to acceptance. For whatever reason, the world lined up the way it did. Past actions and events have set the nonnegotiable rules to the game of life. What has happened “must” have happen given all that has come before. God and fate have confronted us and there is no re-do. How we move forward from that place is with agreement and disagreement. They are the tools we use to choose how to respond to the world.

About the Author
Yonasan Bender is a psychotherapist and the clinical director of Jerusalem Therapy. He is a graduate of Hebrew University’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare. He completed post graduate training in a wide array of therapeutic approaches ranging from CBT to Psychodynamic therapies. Before Hebrew University, he studied at Washington University in St. Louis and Drake University. Yonasan majored in philosophy and ethics. Yonasan is a member of the Association For Contextual Behavioral Science. He’s a key member of the clinical team at The Place, the Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. Yonasan has collaborated with other mental health organizations like Machon Dvir as a Dialectical Behavioral Therapist skills trainer. He’s also served a group leader for the National Educational Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder’ Family Connections program. He specializes in treating anxiety, depression, anger, poor self-esteem, insomnia, psychosis, autism, personality disorders, and marital conflict. He has an extensive background working with individuals, couples, families, and children.
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