Total acceptance of the people in your life is truly liberating. This means accepting someone for exactly who they are—not trying to change them or desperately hoping they grow, but rather accepting them for who they are right now. If you constantly try to change or pressure a person into becoming someone they currently aren’t, then even if they do change in the direction you desire, they probably won't do it very well, they likely won't do it for very long, and they will almost certainly resent you for it.
Once you truly accept someone, you can take a sigh of relief. You no longer have to figure out how to push, manipulate, coerce, or guilt someone into doing what you think is best for them or for you. It frees space in the relationship for enjoyment and gratitude.
Accept Others But Don’t Settle
Now, acceptance isn't the same as settling. There are always aspects of another person that won't be ideal or in line with our desires, no matter who they are or what kind of relationship it is. But if all the benefits of the relationship outweigh the costs of accepting those difficult aspects, then you are not settling. Rather, you are making a powerful, conscious choice to accept the parts that are difficult for you in order to keep the parts that are wonderful. If, on the other hand, the costs of accepting this person AS IS outweigh the cumulative benefits of the relationship—if certain aspects are just too difficult for you to handle (i.e. make-or-break items)—and you still stay, trying to talk yourself into accepting these parts or justifying that you can’t do any better or it would be too difficult to leave, then you are indeed settling. This goes not only for relationships but any situation in life, including professional positions. There are always parts we don't like, but the situation can work as long as the benefits outweigh the costs.
If you settle and stick with something when the costs outweigh the benefits, you are basically forcing and pressuring yourself to change instead of forcing them. Force in any direction, rather than fluidity, will very likely lead to dis-ease in the relationship. Which means you probably won't settle very well, or for very long, and you'll end up resenting the person for “having to” settle. Most likely, you will blame them for the hardships of the relationship, as though you didn't make the choice to stay, and as if the difficulty in the dynamic is all their fault. You’re essentially blaming someone for being who they are. How would that feel if someone blamed and shamed you for being YOU? In some blamers, this scenario can also lead to self-blame for getting oneself into this undesirable situation—for making the decision to stick around. All of this blame and shame is not helpful and needs to be discarded. If this is occurring, then you have firsthand experience that, whether it’s a professional position or a personal relationship, settling for a situation in which the costs are simply too high creates an unhealthy cycle of hardship, resentment, blame, and shame. That’s why you can’t settle for relationships wherein the difficult elements outweigh the benefits.
Make a Decision to Accept or Leave
So really think about it. Determine if the benefits are worth the costs—if enjoying the great parts are worth accepting the difficult ones. If they are, then accept the WHOLE person, all aspects great and difficult, and allow them to develop in their own way and along their own timeframe. When you do determine that the beauty of a relationship indeed outweighs the difficult areas, and when you can truly and unconditionally accept and perhaps even appreciate the difficult parts in the other person—be it a partner, a friend, or an associate—you have truly set the foundation for a dynamic, heartfelt, and deeply intimate relationship. Learn to cherish the difficult parts: determine the benefits of these characteristics if you can, and/or recognize how they help make this person unique.
So either stay and accept, or don’t accept and leave. But you cannot decide to stay and force, manipulate, or guilt the other person (which hurts them); and you cannot decide to stay and resent, blame, and feel ashamed (which hurts you). If you choose to stay, do some completely in your own power and with full acceptance of the other as they are.
Self-Acceptance: Change for Yourself, Not Others
Finally, you must totally accept yourself in relationships. That means never change "for someone else." When we change for others and not for ourselves, we don't do it very well, or for very long, and we resent them. Seeing a pattern? Any time change is manifested by extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation—feeling pressured rather than knowing it is your own choice—it tends to brings poor performance, temporary adjustment, and lasting resentment. If you choose to alter your behavior or to change, do so with complete ownership, wherein you are lovingly, willfully, and consciously making a change of your own volition. No one has forced you. Place no blame or fault on anyone else. Do not hold this change over anyone else as though they owe you something in return. This choice is yours and yours alone because you feel it will in some way improve your life, possibly by improving the relationship. Change only if you are doing so lovingly, in your power and without any expectations of reciprocation.
Getting clear on whether it is worth staying and then making the decision to accept is truly freeing. If you decide the beautiful outweighs the difficult and you accept all the difficult areas as they are, you will begin to rest easy in, enjoy, and appreciate the relationship like you never had before. Wouldn’t the costs of acceptance be worth feeling the benefits of true joy? Only YOU can decide.
AFFIRMATIONS OF THE WEEK
I am choosing this relationship and accept him/her exactly as he/she is.
I am in my power and making the decision to change.
I appreciate this relationship, even the difficult parts.