Never accept less than you deserve. We all deserve to be loved, cared for and respected, right? Believing this is easier said than done. Because it’s tied up with a whole bunch of other stuff in our subconscious about what we believe about ourselves and who we think we are. I think for most people, we’ll say that we believe we deserve these things, but perhaps our actions will show something different. We will accept being treated poorly by our boss or our colleagues. We will accept less than what we need from our partner or friends. Many of us will even accept poor service or poor quality food at a restaurant. And it’s a vicious circle. At the end of the day, we will believe about ourselves what we continue to accept. And we will continue to accept those things that align with those beliefs.
For most of us, the beliefs we hold about ourselves as adults go back to the things we were told or even subconsciously and inadvertently taught as children. Identifying exactly what these things are can be extremely challenging: not just because it can be difficult to pinpoint these moments in time, but also because we are often relating a defining moment about a negative belief to someone we love and respect. I’m sure I experienced some of these moments myself… but I am also aware of how much I have changed as an adult. So while I have many memories of my childhood, both positive and negative, I have made peace with my past and accept it as it is. I know this is something many people have difficulty coming to terms with, but the reality is that I can’t change my past and I can only change my present by accepting things as they are.
The other aspect to battle with in order to believe that we deserve love, care and respect is the expectation of society. As a forty year old man, I know there are many things that I don’t measure up to in the eyes of society. I don’t own a house and I sometimes make questionable decisions. I can feel judgement from others at every turn. But the reality is that I don’t care. I don’t care because I’m doing my best, and as long as I’m not hurting others with my actions, then I am worthy. And I think you know my thoughts on what society thinks I ‘should‘ do!
Acceptance is an incredibly powerful tool when understood properly. If you’re taking your life advice from Instagram posts – I hope you’re not – then you might see acceptance as something straightforward that means you just accept your lot in life and suck it up. It’s not really like that at all. Acceptance is an acknowledgement that things are as they are, not a rigidly passive approval of a shit deal. It means that you understand that the past is written and unchangeable, whereas the future is not. It means that you know where and who you are right now, and can make informed decisions about where you’d like to go. It means letting go of the things that are out of your control and focusing your energy on the things that are.
Let’s take the relatively non-confrontational idea of receiving a poor quality meal in a restaurant. We have the choice to accept it – shut up, eat it, pay and leave – or to do something about it. And doing something about it means making a complaint, right? Actually it’s possible to both accept that you’ve received a crappy meal, and to do something about it. It’s when we don’t practice the acceptance that the ‘doing something’ becomes emotionally fuelled. That’s when people get upset with the waitress, as though she’s the one going back to the kitchen and cooking your meal. Don’t shoot the messenger! If you practice true acceptance in this case, the following action becomes rational and more likely to deliver a positive outcome. An emotionally reasonable response is going to resonate with the server and that sentiment will filter through to the chef. I think it goes without saying that the reasonable customer is far less likely to have their steak spat on! But how can we apply this to other parts of life?
Think about a time recently when you overreacted to something that had happened. What was the cause of your response? If we take a moment to breathe and then accept, the next step gains your rational thinking! How might this situation have improved if you had been able to analyse things more based in fact and a clear head, rather than spontaneous emotion?
I know there’ll be a few readers out there who are very aware of my own changed approach to acceptance. I’ll say for sure that some of them don’t even like it. But the thing is that it’s not about them, it’s about me. And life is a far less stressful place to be when you are able to respond to whatever comes your way with love, kindness and rationality. You can’t change the past or other people’s actions. But you can accept them.