How Acceptance is the Best Path to a Peaceful Relationship

How Acceptance is the Best Path to a Peaceful Relationship

We just attended a group discussing diversity and inclusivity and it brought up for us one of the most basic aspects for having peaceful harmonious relationships: acceptance.

Why is one thing not like another thing? Because it’s different, duh. Whether it’s separating wheat from chaff or choosing which toaster to buy, we use differences all the time, but alongside differences are also similarities. All toasters plug into the wall and make toast. Differences and similarities coexist, and this, of course, is true for people, too. Everybody is different, and everybody is the same. It’s hard to hold both ideas at the same time; we don’t like such ambiguity.

Both of these have extraordinary implications. Other people are the same as you. The same need for air, food and water. The same number of ears. The same desire to stay alive. The same need for other people to help with that staying alive, and to help with easing your loneliness.

At the same time, everybody is different. Nobody is you. They have a different medical record, music collection, handwriting, favorite movie. They know different things, reach different conclusions, like different foods.

You can’t see it, but they have an interior world that is just as rich as yours. Recognizing that someone else’s world is different is how you have a successful relationship. When you realize that their life, their hopes, their desires are just as deep and strong and valid as yours, and their way is just as valid as yours, then you can understand that trying to change it would be just as unpleasant for them as if they started telling you what to do.

Now doing this is hard, because we have all learned how to do things a certain way, from the laundry to finances to social behavior, but look closely to see if the other person’s behavior is an offense against society or just offends your sense of how things ought to be. Look for how those differences arise from the sameness that you both share, and accept them.

Recognizing someone else’s world is different is how you have a successful relationship #quote Click To TweetAs with most things that are important to practice in relationships, a true understanding of the importance and meaning of acceptance originates with inner examination. When you come to accept and work with your own imperfections, it leads you to have a greater understanding of those of others. At the same time, an honest, non-judgmental view of yourself, your uniqueness and the special potentials that you possess, help you to embrace others in the same manner.

All peaceful relationships are based on a deep respect for and honoring of differences and methods of expression. This is a kind of peace you can apply in a general way to all brothers and sisters; to all of us who make up the human species. For many, it can be extended to all living things.

When you narrow your focus to those with whom you have more intimate relationships, the issue of your core values becomes a primary factor. Once you have matching or complementary, non-opposing values, an attitude of total acceptance is the way to bring living peace into all your exchanges.

This kind of acceptance demands an attitude of wonder and joy at the same values being expressed in often very different ways. It calls for a willingness to expand your ideas of how and what the way to do and say things might be. It is based on trust and comes from love and openness rather than fear and control.

The power of this kind of energy is present even when only one person in a relationship practices it. The sense of being accepted, of being heard and seen without judgment and with a gentleness born of love, is very healing as well as contagious.

A shared behavior of total acceptance has miraculous properties. It creates a feeling of safety and undefendedness. It allows you to grow and keep exploring and sharing yourself. It engenders a lightness of interaction and freedom of being that is the very definition of peace and harmony.

When you can act without defense, accept without control, relate without power and dominance being a factor, embrace differences, and greet each other with fascination and appreciation, you will truly be spreading peace one relationship at a time.

Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: Acceptance in the salt marshes of Carpinteria

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3 Comments on “How Acceptance is the Best Path to a Peaceful Relationship

  1. Love this picture! The blog was super helpful!!! As usual the relationship tip can be applied to world peace too! How are we the same, and how are we different? That’s a great curious perspective to come from in examining our relationship issues. Curiosity. That has helped me many a time to defuse arguments. I become genuinely curious about what has upset my partner and why, and I ask questions to try to understand more deeply, and that in itself seems to calm things right down.

  2. Your comments remind me of a Buddhist precept (attributed as such anyway) about differences.
    I had to look it up to be certain I got it right: “A great relationship is based on two principles. First is to appreciate our similarities, and second is to respect our differences.”

    How boring it would be in a world with only clones of me.

    I am not a Buddhist but much of what is presented there just makes sense to me, and what is taught must be rolling around in my head, because it so very frequently surfaces when presented with what life serves up day to day.
    Thank you for another thoughtful piece.

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