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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

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We all seek acceptance. We all want to be loved for who we are – warts and all.  That is what we desire from each of our relationships.  What is ironic is that the very thing that we crave – acceptance – is the one thing that we find so hard to give to others.

I have two friends who are getting divorced for no other reason than that the wife cannot accept her husband. She cannot accept that he has different points of view or ways of doing things.  When he doesn’t agree with her, she argues with him relentlessly because she can’t accept his having a different opinion.  And her inability simply to accept him for who he is has destroyed their marriage.

I once met a lady from Australia who had a very strong 30-year marriage. I asked her what their marriage secret was.  She said, “Greg has never once tried to change me, and I never tried to change him.  If we hadn’t completely accepted one another, our marriage would not have lasted one year, much less 30.”

Acceptance doesn’t mean that we allow people to hurt or abuse us. We don’t need to accept or tolerate people being unkind to us.  Rather, I am referring to our desire to change people who are good to us, but whom we would like to “fix.”

We typically aren’t seeking to fix something that is objectively wrong with the other person. Rather, we just want to make them more like us.  For instance, years ago I had a friend who tried to fix me constantly.  His lament was that I wasn’t “adventurous” or “spontaneous” or even “fun.”

The problem was that his incessant attempts to change me were irritating. There was nothing wrong with me.  I just wasn’t like him.  And frankly, I didn’t want to be anything like him.  I was fine with him being different from me, and I accepted him fully.  I even appreciated what made him different from me.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t accept me as I was.

We tend to do this in our closest relationships. We see something in the other person that is different from us, and we get the bright idea that the other person needs to be more like us!  And then we make well-meaning suggestions as to how he or she could “improve.”

But our advice typically backfires. That person didn’t ask for our advice, nor do they likely want it.  And it is arrogant to think that our way of doing things or way of being is the right way.

So, part of acceptance is keeping our mouths shut. The best rule of thumb in relationships is to compliment as often as possible and to ignore what is imperfect.  The message we want to send to those we love is this: I accept you completely.  I have no desire to change anything about you.

Frankly, the people in your life don’t want your advice.  Most people who want help or life advice go to a professional, not their friends or family members. We want advice from someone who knows what they are talking about, and whose judgment won’t hurt our feelings.  For example, my doctor could tell me to lose weight for my health, and I would not be offended.  However, if my husband told me that I needed to lose weight, my feelings would be incredibly hurt.  I only am seeking acceptance from him.

Since I write a column that offers life advice, I have to be particularly careful to limit my advice giving to my column. Very often, I am bursting to dole out advice to some poor soul, but instead I keep my mouth shut and write a column about the topic instead.

The reality is that those nearest and dearest to me don’t want my advice. They want my acceptance.  They want me to love them for who they are – warts and all.  So, I work to convey my acceptance with compliments and encouraging words.  And I try to keep my criticisms and advice to myself.  I don’t always succeed, but I try.

If you want to improve your relationships, remember that what people crave from you is unconditional love and acceptance. If you can offer that to those closest to you, your relationships will improve beyond your wildest dreams.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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