Do you have trouble accepting annoying people in your life?  If you are like others I have spoken to on the matter, your thoughts on the subject might be similar to theirs:

Why should I accept . . .

My sister’s condescending behavior?
My mother’s belittling me all the time?
My husband’s telling me what’s best for me?
My boss’s nitpicking ways?

If pressed to at least try accepting such people as they are, they might respond with something like

Why should I have to put up with them?
What good will it do me?
I don’t need them in my life.
I refuse to sacrifice my principles and values.
Nothing will really change.

These are all very valid concerns, and truth be told, I’ve felt them many times myself. However, I have learned that they stem mainly from certain misconceptions about what acceptance means.  In The Gifts of Acceptance (recently named a Best Wellness Book of 2018 by Library Journal), I discuss them at length in the chapter titled “What Acceptance Is–And Isn’t.”

For now, let’s take a look at three common misperceptions about acceptance.

Acceptance does not mean,

That you approve or condone another’s behavior. 

It is a mistake to equate acceptance with approval.  You are not approving or condoning another’s actions or behavior by accepting them as they are. Rather, you are simply acknowledging the “reality” of the way a person is and then acting upon or deciding what’s best for you aligned with that reality. Hence, you can accept someone as they are even though you disapprove of what the person has done. As such, acceptance is neither a positive or negative mind-set; it is more of an even keeled, neutral one.

However, to be very clear, acceptance does not mean that you should accept abuse, violence, or other aberrant or intolerable behavior. Nor does it mean that you cannot or should not remove yourself from, or even sever ties with, someone if you determine that is in your best interest to do so.

Acceptance also does not mean,

That you must “give in” to others. 

         Acceptance does not require that you relinquish your needs or subordinate your best interests to those of others. Once again, if you feel unfairly burdened or imposed upon, you can disengage or detach—and when necessary, stand your ground. The only thing that I believe you should give in to is that every person has her own life path and that it is beyond your power (and, I believe, right) to meaningfully alter it. If your respective paths are not in sync, you are free to acknowledge that and move on.

And very importantly, acceptance does not mean,

That you have no viable choices. 

To the contrary, it is only by accepting people (annoying or otherwise) as they are, that you are able to recognize the choices and options that will serve you best. Why? Because with acceptance, the focus changes from others and circumstances to you—and what you can do to better serve your needs.

Thus, when you have difficulty accepting someone as they are, keep in mind what it does not mean.   That will make it easer for you to practice acceptance and enjoy the many gifts that follow, including less resentment and frustration and more peace and serenity!

I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and experiences about accepting difficult people in your lives.

In the meantime,

Let It Go—and Accept “What Is!”, 

Let’s Help Make Acceptance Go Viral! 

Danny

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