How to Negotiate the Balance Between Discipline and Acceptance

August 1, 2019

Categories: Acceptance

People tend to struggle with the balance between discipline and acceptance. Some people struggle with discipline. Their life isn’t going how they want it to, but there are things they could do to improve their situation. For example, you might be struggling with your health, but you don’t go to the gym regularly and you eat a bunch of junk food. Or your marriage might be on the rocks, but you are a jerk to your partner most of the time.


If there are things you can do to improve your life or situation, the key is discipline and developing healthy habits in your life. We have more power to change our situation than we often realize. Do your absolute best to mold your life and circumstances so that they are as favorable as possible.


Other people have the opposite problem—they struggle with acceptance. The reality is that even if we maximize our effort and discipline, there will be some things in life that won’t turn out how we want them to be. There are limits to what we can control. You might do everything right with your health and still get diagnosed with cancer. You might work really hard at your job and still get downsized.

If you have done everything you can do to improve your life or situation, and some things still aren’t as you want them to be, the key is acceptance. Perfection is impossible. Part of life involves coming to terms with the things in life that aren’t as we want them to be. We can yell, stomp our feet, and have a temper tantrum, or we can be an adult, accept it, and move on with our lives.

2 Key Questions

If you are struggling with something in your life right now, ask yourself whether this is a problem that calls for discipline or acceptance. Here are the 2 key questions to determine which direction to go:

  1. Is the problem inside your control? How much control do you have over the situation? If you have a high degree of control, it’s more likely that the direction to go is discipline. If you have a low degree of control, it’s more likely that the direction to go is acceptance. In general, we are in control of our own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and reactions. Other people and outside circumstances are usually NOT in our control.
  2. Have you done everything you could? How much effort and discipline have you applied already in this area of your life? Have you given it 100%? Have you given up too soon? If you haven’t done absolutely everything you could do to improve your situation, it’s probably time to apply more discipline. If you’ve given it everything you have, and the outcome still isn’t what you want, it’s time for acceptance.


The balance between discipline and acceptance can be tricky. Both are needed in life. But each strategy requires a very different approach and mindset. The way to decide which strategy to apply in your situation requires an honest evaluation of what is inside your control, and how much effort you have already committed to the cause.


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