In both mediations and communication classes, I have often heard someone say “I wish he (or she) would accept me just the way I am.” Is there anyone who does not wish for this in relationships with others? Often such a statement is preceded or followed by a statement such as “he (or she) is so judgmental.”
We may feel anger, sadness, disappointment, separation and longing, or all of the above. We wish for the peace and harmony that would come if the acceptance was there. And although we’ve heard that accepting ourselves is what actually matters, recognizing that doesn’t help too much.
In all of this, something is generally overlooked that, upon inspection, becomes quite obvious. We are not fully in acceptance of the person from whom we seek acceptance. There may be many things about that person that we wish were otherwise. Most notably though, is that person’s “trait” of being unable to accept us. In other words, we find it “unacceptable” that the other person is not accepting us. This perspective is by definition demonstrating our own non-acceptance of the other.
What a marvelous thing the mind is, that it can overlook something so obvious. The mind is not a villain in doing so. It is simply conditioned to be this way. To look at people and situations to determine whether they are acceptable or unacceptable, right or wrong, good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, etc.
Something even more marvelous is the impact to recognizing our own non-acceptance. If I acknowledge that the another is simply unable to give me acceptance, and I accept that person just the way he is, then I am free. I am free of the toxic effects of my own judgment. I am free of the need to get his acceptance. And I may discover that the peace I was after through getting his acceptance may have just crept into my experience.
With this freedom all sorts of new possibilities open up, that were unavailable under the constricted state of our own judgment. What a freedom to give up on changing someone else, and being released from the sense that our own well being at all depends on it.
When we are in any dispute with another, there is judgment and non-acceptance. And we think that we need to get the other to see it our way. But it turns out to be quite the opposite. Our freedom arises in letting go of that notion. A big step towards harmony has been taken. Issues can be resolved. Divorces can be settled more amicably. Long standing pain can begin to heal.