Why Relationships Last: Acceptance, Acknowledgment, Appreciation
In recent weeks we have written about how the perception of differences and the way they are handled has a big impact on whether or not we are creating peace within our relationships. We have discussed the negative impact of criticism and how learning to practice acceptance can support positive interactions.
Our culture promotes a view that looks more at differences than similarities. It teaches an emphasis on overcoming discord and sees conflict and distance-creating behavior as normal. Sharing problems and commiserating over them is the go-to position. So much so, that when one looks at the possibilities of conflict-free relating and acceptance of another’s separate and individual way of being and doing, there is often an immediate suggestion that something is being suppressed.
Many people have learned, and have come to believe, that they have to push their way upon others, that they are right, and that their way is the better way. They are firmly convinced that this better way they know about is not just better for them, but applies to the other person as well.
When interactions are filled with an undertone of struggle about whose way is the right way, continuous tension is created. It doesn’t feel safe to express yourself; you must always be on your guard, always be on the defensive.
Celebrating differences is a choice #quote #relationships #peace Click To TweetLet’s flip this around a bit and discuss the positive impact that celebrating the differences and the uniqueness of each individual has on all our relationships.
When there is no undercurrent of criticism, you can have an attitude of openness, the ability to be in the presence of someone else and not hold anything back. You can be yourself and not need to put on a public front. This is where the feeling of connection comes from.
What happens when not holding anything back involves saying mean things about the other person? That is going to inhibit openness on their part. So don’t go there; instead, express what is good about the other person. The manager of The Who, Kit Lambert, had a successful collaboration with Pete Townsend that avoided criticism by praising the good parts and saying of the rest, let’s set that aside until later.
It is an amazing feeling when someone truly sees you, hears you, and celebrates who you are; when the feedback you receive is acknowledging, accepting, and appreciative. There is a sense of warmth and relief that comes over you and a calm relaxation that engulfs you when you are offered this gift. This is the actual experience of peace that descends upon you when interactions are devoid of criticism, rejection, or attempts to change you.
There is a similar experience of peacefulness within you when you can accept, acknowledge and appreciate the uniqueness, the otherness of someone you are relating to. When you approach them with this attitude, it changes you. When you experience actions or statements that are different from the way you usually act and can still recognize the commonality, it is transformative.
Trust and a deep sense of intimacy and support develop between people who relate in this manner. It takes awareness and maintenance, and a continued intention of listening to the other person and coming from a place of acceptance, acknowledgment and appreciation. It is such a desirable state that it pulls at you to practice it and nurture it. You come to understand that poking the other person is high-risk, low-reward behavior.
Celebrating differences is a choice. When two people relate to each other in this manner, they become a powerful force for peace in the world.
Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Two plants in Harmony, CA
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