Tag Archives: Acceptance

Look for Acceptance (not Rejection) and You’ll Find it in “Bits of Light in the Room”

30 Jul

Life can be variously wonderful, heartbreaking, exhilarating, depressing, emotional, and meh – and sometimes (for those of us who empathetically take in the energy of those around us) all at the same time.

I’ve always been highly sensitive to the emotions and needs of those around me, to a fault:  heartbreaks or injustice in the world can bring me to tears.  My empathetic sensitivity has been a lifelong source of rejection from parents/family/friends/lovers who lament “Toughen up, you’re too sensitive.”

Only recently did I discover that empathy is a gift to the world – and that there are many, many sensitive people who give their positive emotional energy to the world.   It’s a new concept to know that acceptance (and self-acceptance) of sensitivity is possible!

Last week, when discussing new (and innovative) business ideas with a friend, I mentioned that I procrastinate because of (the possibility of) rejection.  He told me to “Focus on the bits of light in the room” – meaning that my focus was misdirected… So, instead of looking at the darkness in the room (those who will reject new ideas), focus on the bits of light — and make them brighter.

Wow!

Coupled with an idea spawned by a CD by Brene Brown (I can’t remember which one… She stated “Whatever you look for, you’ll find… if you look for rejection, you’ll find it.  If you look for acceptance, that’s what you’ll find.”) – I came up with “The Acceptance Experiment.”

The Acceptance Experiment

So, I took two seemingly unrelated concepts:  Bits of Light, and Look for Acceptance, and did an experiment.  After a lifetime of watching for (and trying to protect myself from) rejection, I started looking for (and focusing on) Acceptance and Bits of Light in the room.

I’m happy to report positive results – everywhere I look I’m finding more and more acceptance!  Where I once saw only the dark patches (rejection), by focusing my energy on acceptance, there is more and more white light illuminating my world.

I find that I look at everyday encounters with people and places differently by looking for the bits of light – and, they are everywhere.  Suddenly the room has gotten brighter – even though dark patches (rejection) will always be present. (That’s reality!)

The Benefit of the Doubt (Reframing Rejection)

At the same time, learning to “step back and observe” the situations of others, instead of allowing my energy to deplete, is an important lesson.

It’s like being in an ocean and rolling with the emotional waves as they crest and trough instead of being dragged down by them.

While I’ll never be able to completely disengage/disconnect from the pain of others, observing helps me to stay centered.

Taking care of my energy (like putting on my oxygen mask first) helps me to stay helpful and inspiring when it’s needed (and it usually is.)

And…when something that feels like rejection comes my way (someone snaps at me, pulls away, treats me indifferently), I try to consider the options:  it may have nothing to do with me AT ALL.

Re-examining rejection (see the above drawing) often illuminates circumstances or situations as the cause (not me!)

(Side conversation with my deceased mother: “Sorry to disagree with you mom, but it is NOT necessarily my fault when people treat me poorly… they may just have a bad day! And, NO, praying more won’t change that.”  My mother (and my dysfunctional ex) insisted that I deserved (poor) treatment from others because of something I must have done.  If you’re facing a similar demon, know it’s B.S.!)

Does this Help?

I can speak and write about technical topics “until the cows come home”, but it’s not so easy to talk about my own personal journey (see, here’s that rejection thing again…)

Does anything I’ve written strike a chord with you?

If so, please post a comment or an emoji or even just let me know that you read this post.

While I write mostly as Notes to Myself… I’m inspired if you are.

p.s., Wherever you are right now… know that life ebbs and tides.  Wishing you a positive day!

Carol

Judgment or admonishment, excuse me either way…

13 Apr

Do you ever feel like you just want to be accepted — or left alone?  There are times when I get tired of having others reject, correct, chide, or otherwise disrespect me, that I wonder if it is worth meeting new people.  Is this what life is like for anyone else?

I make an effort to tolerate others “ad nauseum” (it just doesn’t make sense to get upset over little things in life), but it is not reciprocal.  Sometimes it is hard to keep up the good fight (being tolerant), when others seen to tolerate nothing (and then insist on telling me.)

I try to follow the motto “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” – and yet most people disagree.  I often am told off if I glance in the wrong direction (according to them.)  If you are a reader of my past posts, you might sense my growing frustration with how there is so much judgment and so little acceptance in the world today.

This week it started with a Facebook post…

I shared a quote (picture at left) on my Facebook wall and in turn, several friends shared it on their wall.  Different people commented – most agreeing with the sentiment – except for one who wrote:

” I understand the wrong of being judgmental. But to never judge doesn’t ring true does it? Quoting from “http://www.tldm.org/News6/judging.htm” Those without convictions proclaim a mistaken notion of tolerance: But ‘tolerance’ can be a genuinely harmful force when it becomes a euphemism for moral exhaustion and a rigid or indifferent neutrality in response to every great moral issue—when, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, it becomes the virtue of people who do not believe in anything.”

Holy Schmoley!

It always surprises me how religious zealots will cite scripture to justify why they deserve to confront (and judge) others about their choices.  While such people spout words of acceptance (“God loves everyone…”), they are typically intolerant of anyone who does not share their beliefs.

When religion and righteousness enter the conversation, logic often seems to exit. We end up with bullying behavior from adults under the guise of “I am compelled to save you (from your own misguided way of thinking)… because I know better than you what is right!”

Argh – I hate that!   It is like saying “I accept everyone for who they are, but I simply will not tolerate anyone who is not as righteous as me!”  (It reminds me of a notepad I saw once depicting a crotchety an old woman ranting “There’s nothing I hate more than intolerance!”)

You have a right to your opinion, as long as you agree with me…

I realized that what bothered me about the comment was that it felt too familiar. My parents use guilt and scripture as rationale for their non-accepting, strongly worded opinions, and incessant chiding (verbal spanking). It makes no difference to them that I am a good person with high morals and values, it only matters if I follow their edicts.

You might think, after decades of guilt mongering, I would have figured it out.  I COULD be loved and accepted if I could just fit into the first communion dress I wore as a child. It will never happen, and I am happy and healthy loving myself.

Today, I live thousands of miles away, yet my father continues to send me (dis)missive emails.

You might recognize the pattern of the email:  “Dear Carol, How are you?  I hope you know how much you are hurting (or how much suffering you are causing to) <insert family member name here> by <insert unrelated behavior here>.  You know that God would want you to <insert their recommended behavior change here> because He says <insert convenient bible passage here>.”

Fight or flight (or fright?)

I have learned to ignore such rhetoric until it escalates with follow-ups.  At some point, I end up confronted with the primal “fight or flight” response, and neither renders a good outcome.  Fight means a showdown of religious righteousness that I am unwilling to wage (it is a no win).  Flight ends up being a chase where I am eventually caught to further face guilt-laced “gentle correction” to save me from the fires of hell.  Why so much judgment when there is so  much goodness to accept?

Judgment or admonishment – who needs it?  Please excuse me either way…  I am living a good life, and no matter how much judgment you heap on me, I’ll still tolerate you.  What do you think?

Have a good week!

Carol

Recovery from Childhood – a Lifelong Journey…

24 Jan

I am a big believer in The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz and his recent book The Fifth Agreement.  In summary, don Miguel teaches us to get over the seemingly innocent agreements we entered into and made (often unconsciously) in early life.  We accepted these in childhood as a done deal imposed by parents with the noble intent of “domesticating” us into submission and assimilation into a civil society.

Our parents typically raised us in the same way they were, without consideration that such ways might not prepare us to deal with the disappointments and realities of adult life.  Case in point:  life is not fair, and there are no guarantees of respectful treatment, yet many of us learned to follow the Golden Rule.  Others were taught (especially females) to take care of others first and foremost (see my previous post Put on Your Own Mask First for more about this…)  These concepts don’t hold in adult world where others are focused on self-interests (as well they should.)

The Four Agreements and The Fifth Agreement are worthwhile investments for anyone seeking to understand relationships – especially because both books explain how to work with others and ourselves in daily life.  I love the writings and the works!

In spite of studying and practicing The Four Agreements (1. Live with Integrity; 2. Don’t take anything personally; 3. Never assume (ask questions instead); and 4. Always do your best) – I face challenges to overcome “childhood teachings”- even though decades separate me from those years.  Moreover, in talking to friends both older and younger, I am not alone!

Why is it that we spend the first 15-20 years learning how to live (childhood) and the rest of our life overcoming the same?

Some people do not have childhood baggage.  I know people whose childhoods abounded with unconditional love and acceptance, and their parents treated them as the apple(s) of their eyes. As a result, one friend has so much self-esteem that co-workers tire of her incredibly healthy self-image!  Unfortunately, I think that this situation is more the exception than the rule.

Is there ever a point when our parents can no longer get under our skin, or when they are no longer the voices in our heads?

Even though I am middle-aged, I routinely get emails from my father chiding me for not calling enough (I call every week), emailing enough (I respond and send emails all the time), thanking enough for gifts (no matter that I have).  These emails bother me, and it bothers me that they bother me!  I should be used to the treatment by now… and one would think I would stop hoping for acceptance!

As an accomplished professional, I know that I am a great person – so why would I still hold out hope that my father will someday notice this?  As a child, I learned that 97% was never good enough – it was always 3% short of the perfection that meant acceptance.

Why do we keep hoping for change in others even when we know that we can only change ourselves?  Why do grown women seek approval from judgmental fathers (and often marry similar men)?  Why do grown men keep hoping they will buy that perfect gift for an unapproving mother?  Why do we strive to make our parents proud long after it shouldn’t matter?

I know that parental love is expressed by pointing out shortfalls and faults, yet I still hold onto the dream that someday just being ME will be enough.  I’m not alone in the lifetime journey of recovering from childhood and some people have it much worse. I read about similar struggles on blogs, in discussions, and in listening to friends and colleagues worldwide!

I am optimistic as I watch my son and daughter-in-law raising two daughters in a loving, accepting and supportive home, and it warms my heart as they show their princesses unconditional love.  Even so, I wonder if anyone has a childhood from which they do not seek to recover.

Wishing you a peaceful week where you experience self-love and an ongoing recovery as you move forward in your life!

Carol

%d bloggers like this: