Accepting People As They Are

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Relationships Columnist

Published in Relationships on 29th October, 2018

The world is not a black and white place, yet there's a common trait among humans to take a look at someone they may not know and make so many decisions about that person without ever knowing what lies beyond the surface.

Though it may be easy, this kind of behavior can quickly become toxic. It can lead to the decision that someone is unworthy of your time, when they're actually in need of help. We all have deeper things going on, and it's worthwhile to take a step back and try to understand others before we make decisions about who they are.

It's So Easy To Judge

Judgment is so easy, right? You take a look at how someone is dressed, what their hair looks like, how clean they appear to be, and make decisions right there about who they are and whether or not you want to be around them.

sensible people

However, you don't know what might be going on internally. Taking a look at someone who has a filthy home and judging them as "lazy", or as a "slob" is simple. Why else would they be unable to simply keep a clean environment? If you look deeper, you might find that there are a lot of reasons.

Although it is easy, it's also a great way to leave no room for personal growth. It can also leave those people you judge feeling like maybe they actually fit your judgments. The entire process creates a toxic cycle that is damaging to others and yourself. A far healthier option is to practice acceptance.

First, Let's Take A Look At What Acceptance Isn't

Before you head out to accept everyone you meet, keep in mind that accepting people as they are doesn't mean welcoming toxic behaviors, rudeness, or bullying. There's a big difference between someone who has more going on behind the scenes and someone who is blatantly using acceptance as an excuse to behave in nasty ways.

There are absolutely times when "that's just how they are," is a thought process that can be more damaging than helpful.

When someone is being condescending, insensitive, rude, or generally negative, that kind of thinking can actually become very enabling. As a result, it's important to be mindful of whether or not behaviors are toxic, and creating boundaries for those that are for the sake of protecting yourself.

That Said, What Does It Mean To Accept Someone As They Are?

Life isn't black and white, and neither are people. There are so many complexities among them with regard to experiences, identities, attractions, religion and so much more. When you think about it, creating rules through which to judge or accept people can seem like a lot of work.

accept someone as they are

Yet there are still people who choose to hate. Oftentimes, it's because something is different from what they're used to. Differences make them uncomfortable, and not everyone understands how to handle that discomfort. Some learn how to lean in, while others create rules and walls to keep themselves separate from those who may not be like them.

Why Is Acceptance Important?

We all have things going on, and there are things we all struggle with. Consequently, many of us also know how it feels to be criticized for those things. From there, it's not hard to make the assumption that it doesn't feel great for others either.

On top of that, we don't always know how these struggles are going to present themselves in others. For example, that person living in the filthy house may very well have depression, or another issue going on that makes handling something that may seem simple to you very difficult for them.

Furthermore, because of judgments from others it can be easy for such a person to begin to believe that they are actually just a slob. This leaves them feeling worse, and creates even more of a problem.

By taking a moment to consider the reasons for these kinds of things, we can help to keep from exacerbating the inner problems a person is experiencing. In addition, we can show them that others care about their struggles, or at the very least aren't going to fault them for it.

Acceptance Involving Children

Many of us love watching children grow up and become their own person, but some can forget that they are in fact, their own people. There are so many things that children are figuring out. Most importantly, they're still learning who they are.

acceptance involving children

For those of us raising children, or with children in our families, acceptance is absolutely key. We teach those children how to be people, how to treat others and most importantly, how to accept themselves. It can be all too easy to pass on the message that something about them isn't okay, and that can cause them a lot of damage.

Most of us want the children in our lives to grow up to be happy, kind people. In order to allow for that, it's important to remember how our behaviors reflect upon them. The way we treat children shows them how to treat themselves and those around them.

So whether they're figuring out how to be people, how to handle budding identity, sexuality or other values, being there to support and accept them can make a huge difference in their lives. On the other hand, judgment and criticism can cause irreversible damage.

How To Practice Acceptance

Acceptance isn't always an easy thing. Judgment can easily be ingrained, causing us to make judgments before even realizing we've done it. Because of that, there are some tips that are very useful for being more mindful when it comes to the way you view others.

Hit The Pause Button

When you notice yourself thinking nasty things, take a pause. Ask yourself where those thoughts are coming from. In many cases, they result from feeling bad about yourself in some way. Maybe you're feeling insecure about the way you look, or maybe you're just cranky and tired.

hit the pause button

Remember that being cranky or worn down is normal, but others don't deserve the brunt of those feelings. If you find that it is due to insecurities, it can be a sign to find ways to lift yourself up rather than bringing others down.

Stay Away From Black/White Thinking

There are few things in life that are either right or wrong always. Life is a complicated thing, and you don't know why others do the things they do in many cases. When you decide that one behavior or action is always wrong, you limit yourself from seeing deeper into the situation.

This can be especially damaging when it begins to create perfectionism, or the idea that there is only one correct way to do things, and many wrong ways. In addition, when you place this thought process on others, you're likely to find just about everyone is "wrong" in some way.

Care For Yourself

Sometimes it can be easier to fall into negative thinking and judgments than others. For example, if you're feeling worn down, cranky, tired or unhappy with something about yourself, the negativity can flow more easily. As a result, self care is key.

This can just be the basics. Make sure you're eating healthy food regularly, to keep your body feeling well. Drink plenty of water, and wear clothes you like and that you feel comfortable in. The better you're feeling about yourself, easier it is to leave negativity in the dust.

Search For Positive Aspects

Let go of judging others for the clothes they wear, the style they have, or the way their hair is styled. Instead, try to look for aspects you like. Maybe they have a tattoo you find silly, but they have a nice smile. Focus on the smile, and you'll find that the rest doesn't really matter that much.

Understand That Everyone Is In A Different Place

Human beings can have a tendency to be very self-centric. This can result in the assumption that others are essentially on out level. Meaning that they understand the things we do and share the same values. However, this really isn't true. People are all over the map, mentally, emotionally and with regard to their experiences.

everyone is in a different place

Understanding that everyone is in a different place on their path can help you to let up on them a little bit, because they may still be learning things you already know.

Remember That You're Only In Control Of You

Others aren't always going to be who you want or do what you want. They aren't robots, and they often have a bundle of their own things going on. You have no control over them, but you have complete control over you.

Think about the kind of person you want to be, and what you need to do to be that person. Slow down, and remember that being harsh on yourself and others isn't going to lead to anything positive. However, lifting yourself and others up can work wonders.

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