When it comes to living a positive life, acceptance is key—particularly acceptance of others. Personally I struggle sometimes when it comes to accepting others. I have a tendency to think my way is the best way and when others disagree or act in a way I cannot understand, I am often critical or judgmental. I like to think of myself as an accepting person, but I know sometimes that’s just not the case.
We all have our moments when we struggle to accept others as they are (especially those closest to us), but most of us recognize that becoming more accepting of others is one way to make our relationships with others more positive. The more accepting we are, the more our relationships can flourish. And the more our relationships flourish, the more positive experiences we’ll have with others.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can be a more accepting person. I want to open my mind up to new ways of seeing the things, to new ways of understanding those I love most. There are many ways to become more accepting, but here are six things I’m going to start doing to increase acceptance in my life:
1. Watch your thoughts. Think about what you’re thinking about. I often think things about other people, judging them, without even realizing it. I’m going to work on paying more attention to my thoughts and do my best to push them in a non-judgmental, more accepting direction.
2. Look for the positive. Not accepting others is a result of seeing the negative in them. Instead of focusing on why someone is different, I’m going to focus on what’s good about that person and his/her choices and actions. My way is not always the best one.
3. Avoid right/wrong dichotomies. It’s very tempting to see the world in black and white with a right and wrong way to do things, but that’s just not how it is. Things don’t have to be right or wrong if I choose to accept them as they are. I’m going to stop labeling my way as “right.”
4. Stop judging yourself. Our judgments of others are often a result of our personal criticisms. If I stop putting pressure on myself to do things the “right” way, I’ll also stop putting pressure on others as well. Not judging myself or others is a crucial step to acceptance.
5. Focus on the now. A lack of acceptance can generate from comparing things to the past. I’m not going to think about what happened before and try to live accordingly; I’m going to think about now. Comparing things to the past always hinders an acceptance of what is.
6. Reverse the situation. I ask myself: What if someone were judging me and not accepting me? How would I feel? I’ll keep these questions in mind the next time I’m not accepting others. I will imagine someone constantly telling me to slow down (and how annoying that would be!).
It’s so easy to abstractly think of yourself as an accepting person, but when it comes to your daily interactions, really pay attention to them and ask yourself if you are accepting others as they are. Are you really accepting them? Are you really not thinking your way of doing things is the best way?
The more I use these six tactics in my life, the more I find myself being much more accepting of others. I’m more loving, more forgiving, more kind. I’ve discovered that the only way to live a positive and present life is to accept what is—something you certainly can’t do if you don’t accept others for who they are.