In the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking a lot about love and relationships. More specifically, I've been thinking about acceptance and how it eventually leads to safety.
First things first, we all want to feel safe and accepted in our relationships. Sure, we might differ in opinions and beliefs, habits and behaviors, career paths, and food choices. However, the bottom line is that we all want to feel understood, seen, and heard. We want to feel like we can relax and just be ourselves. We want acceptance. We want safety.
I've had experiences in the past where I felt like I needed to tip-toe around other people. I didn't want to express my real opinions or thoughts in fear that it will create conflict. I didn't want to reveal my truest feelings because I didn't want them to think I was weird, lame, or 'wrong' in some way. I didn't allow myself to be my realest, rawest me in fear that I wouldn't be accepted. ooft.
Recently I read a beautiful quote that really made me stop and think:
Let's unpack this little by little. Let's talk about this quote in terms of Acceptance, Safety, and Love.
The catchphrase 'accept people for who they are' has been thrown around for years. Not only is it easier said than done, but there isn't enough context for us to truly understand what that phrase means.
Accepting somebody for who they are doesn't mean that you need to stay in a relationship with a person whose values are the complete opposite of yours, and you're always in conflict. Acceptance doesn't mean accepting abusive and toxic behaviors. Acceptance doesn't mean having to tolerate someone (acceptance and tolerance are 2 very different things).
Acceptance is about understanding that you are one of a kind, and other people are one of a kind, too. Additionally, acceptance opens us up. It opens up our world view - it expands our horizons. Both ways. When we accept another person with all the light and the dark, it connects us even deeper to them. It shows us that we're human, but also that we're willing to be vulnerable. On the other side, when another person accepts us for who we are - we can let down our guard.
Many of us act in ways that are supposed to (keyword: supposed!) help us feel safe. We get snappy, we get defensive, we build up walls. Our automatic responses get formed because of fear, past, trauma, beliefs, etc.
When someone accepts us, and when we accept them, we begin to create a sacred space where our triggers and reactions are honored. It shows us where we need to do more healing. It shows us the wounds that need to be addressed.
Real, deep acceptance of another - and their acceptance of us - begins to create safety.
I wonder how often we truly feel safe in this world?
You go outside, you're warned to beware of strangers. You go to work, you're told to have your game face on and not reveal too much of yourself in fear of political games and somebody using your weaknesses against you.
We question people's intentions, we play games, we don't trust. Relationships - with friends, family, romantic relationships - can help us create a safe space in this world. Our little sanctuary where we can relax and simply be. There's enough in this world that we need to worry about, and there's enough that we need to do.
When we accept another person, we tell them: you are safe. It is safe to be you. What a gift that is. More importantly, what a rarity it is. Not only is it special to create this kind of safety for somebody else, but having somebody else create this sense of security for us, too.
We create safety by accepting another person just as they are.
Having said all this -- don't you think that acceptance is one of the highest forms of love?
No hidden agendas, no manipulations, no pointing fingers. Real, deep acceptance. Looking at another person and saying: you're safe here. It's safe for you to be you. And allowing somebody else to create this sense of safety for you, too.
What a gift.
And you know what the funny thing is? Your reassurance and acceptance of somebody else will only help them be even better!
We often look at other people, thinking: 'they should be more like this, less like that. If only they did X, if they acted in a Y manner. If they were only more like me...'
(you see how it all ties in with that quote now? ;))
Criticizing someone will not help them be better. Attacking another person will not inspire them to change for the better (if only!)
Think about yourself: if somebody told you,
'You do X wrong all the time, you never get Y right, if only you were more like Z.' That is not going to make them feel inspired; it will not make them feel empowered! It will only make them frustrated, annoyed, upset.
You are communicating to them: it's not okay to be you. You're not safe to be just the way you are. If only you changed, then you would be better.
When we accept another person, we create safety.
When we create safety, we communicate love to them.
When we love them for just the way they are, they feel empowered and inspired to be even better.
In this crazy, hectic, and unpredictable world, the best thing we can do is create a safe space for others to be just the way they are. To accept others for who they are. To show them that we all have the light and the dark inside of us, and that's okay. That it's more than okay - it's human, and it's beautiful.
Then, from this place of acceptance, safety, and love, people will be inspired to be even better versions of themselves.
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