Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I have often acknowledged what a boring place the world would be if we were all just cookie cutter copies of one another. But instead I have constantly expected roommates, family, friends to see the world as I do, when in fact each of us is totally as unique as our DNA.

This is not a new behavior. I can remember trying often to no avail to convert roommates to my standards of cleaning and cleanliness, simple things like not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, taking out the trash when it was full. For people who are under 25, the greater good is not always first and foremost on their minds. I often just cleaned up to make the evidence of the problem go away and I slowly came to the realization that even going so far as assigning “job” responsibilities didn’t always keep the house/apartment clean.

This came up just this morning as I met with my current therapist. It seems someone near and dear to me approaches life sequentially and probably always has. It is not surprising that my suggestion to “multi-task” infuriates him. My infinitely wise therapist suggested that I simply accept his approach as a given and stop trying to force him to use mine.

Someone else I know well is always running late, not much, but just a little – enough not to allow for bad traffic or bad weather. As we struggled with early Friday rush hour traffic on our way to see the piano we ended up buying, I made just too many suggestions as to how to drive, which way to go, etc. to the point where my husband exploded. I do understand why my advice was so unwelcome, but it didn’t stop me from giving it.

And with friends, I seem to often come up with something I think would be fun to do to find it just doesn’t resonate with them. I suppose we all have different ideas about how to spend our time – with and without others.

Having contemplated recent problems, I am thinking I need to be working on acceptance of people EXACTLY AS THEY ARE, with no ideas of changing them. It would save me considerable angst and avoid the inevitable conflict that arises when one person tries to impose her will on another. The word of the day is ACCEPTANCE.

But can I really practice this new approach? Time will tell.


Blogger Jamy said...

It's a great idea and I want to try it too. You should also try accepting yourself and your desire to change people. I think we all have a bit of this but aren't all so willing to admit it.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

My husband makes a huge noise when he sneezes. Sometimes it frightens me out of my skull. I used to really get on his case about it. I know now, he just cannot change it. I guess I have to be glad the number of times that he doesn't scare me when he sneezes.

When I am frustrated, I think of the number of things that he has had to accept about me. In the end, it is worthwhile to accept others, because if we didn't, we would end up all alone.

I have family member who is never on time. I make sure I always have a book or something to pass the time when I am meeting her anywhere. I don't have that much family, I can't afford to lose her!

4:37 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

People who have no faults are terrible; there is no way to take advantage of them

Anatole France (1844 - 1924)

6:42 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I bet you can Barbara - it's a matter of paying attention, of listening instead of talking, much the way you do when you meditate...

7:00 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

With acceptance comes the realization that I may not, often "can" not, continue the intensity of the relationship I had with that person. This may not be true for you....but it has been for me.


7:37 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- Maybe the first step in this process is self-acceptance, just as you said.

Kellyann -- Welcome to my Blog. I saw your comment on the piano piece and never got back to respond.

Your last point is so true. Most differences are not worth the cost of ending a relationship. Mutual acceptance is a much better alternative.

Gewels -- I don't know anyone who has no faults! Do you?

Pauline -- I think it also involves a change of mindset that has been set for a long time.

Kate -- A change in intensity is sometimes a good thing for both people.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I agree, Barbara. And how does one change the mindset? Partly, I think, by learning to pay attention to the patterns of one's own behavior and then learning to recognize and listen to the other's. Then a change can be effected, no?

6:58 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Whenever I am able to accept people as they actually are (compared to how I think they should be, it allows me to increase the intensity of my connection to them. I don't have to control them, so I can truly relax and feel closer.

A technique I use for this practice (as well as with many other practices) is curiosity. I try to look at a person I'm having trouble with as if I'm just meeting them for the first time. I ask myself, what is this person like? (even though I believe I already know the answer. Or I try to see something about the person I don't already know. It helps me.

This is a great and thoughtful post. Thank you!

8:32 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I quite agree. Until yesterday I hadn't realized what an ingrained pattern this was in me. I tend to offer advice/suggestions with good intentions that isn't always perceived that way. Sometimes people simply want to make their own choices/decisions and I need to respect that.

Reya -- I'll have to try the curiosity approach you suggested. But I may find it difficult to divest myself from the knowledge I already have about the people I know so well.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I have a hard time accepting myself just as I am. I'm more lenient with friends, but I work harder at that.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I choose not to associate with people who annoy or irritate me.

Accepting people really depends on how much they invade your personal space. I can tolerate most people, even annoying ones, if I know it will be the last time I will see them.

On the other hand, some things take a little getting used to. I never had a roommate because I could not bear having to share accommodations with anyone - I wanted and needed my own space (and it needed to be bigger than just 4 walls).

Marriage was a bit of an adjustment and we're still working out some details (like my tendency to leave books everywhere and Sofia's tendency to want to neatly organize and put things away. She is dismayed that I don't put books back on the bookshelf and I get disoriented when I go to pick up a book I left on the piano two weeks ago and it is not there).

6:09 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Acceptance ... such a kind word.

If we can fully accept ourselves - warts and all - it is easier to accept others for who they are ... and that surely makes for a little bit of harmony?

6:22 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Accepting things in ourselves and other which we don't really like is a life-long challenge.

Richard -- If I chose not to associate with people who annoy or irritate me, I probably would live in isolation. Most people have at least one irritating quality, don't you think? Maybe you're actually more tolerant than I am, otherwise I think you would be a hermit!

Poor Sofia! Just put the books away so she doesn't have to do it or think about them. :)

6:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Rise -- I think that's Jamy's point exactly.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

At least you're part way to the solution because you can point out many situations where you recognize this trait and I'm sure you will continue to be more aware and try to let it go.

Now...your comment to Richard amuses me! Why shouldn't Sofia (or someone else in a similar situation) be the one to let go and just leave the book where Richard can find it?!

I'm smiling because at our house, we're both fairly loose on how and where we keep belongings!

9:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- I guess I can sympathize with Sofia...

11:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- Unless it's personal space. Then I think a person should be able to leave it however he/she wishes. I assumed that a piano was in a common area.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Men exist for one another. Either teach them or bear with them." - Marcus Aurelius

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

due to my current circumstances, talking to my therapist is beyond my financial capabilities. This is the first time in 20 years I have 'gone without' so to speak ....I have withdrawal pains often!!

Acceptance of others? Wow. Quite a large change to tackle. As I have heard: one cannot swallow an elephant whole, but only consume it piece by piece.

Personally, I still am working on accepting myself. All change needs to start 'at home,' - Yes?


11:24 AM  

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