3 Ways to Accept Others Where They Are

and 4 Reasons Why We Find it So Difficult!

Is there a way to accept others where they are? Think about that person in your life who drives you absolutely crazy. Whether co-worker, acquaintance, church friend or family member, there’s nothing worse than having to deal with someone who gets under your skin. The problem is, you can’t change the people around you.

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You can, on the other hand, change you. And embracing self-acceptance is key to learning to accept others where they are.

By learning to accept people for who they are, you’ll find your interactions with these individuals will become easier. You’ll be more easygoing, and less likely to get bent out of shape. In short, you’ll become happier and experience far less stress. 

Sound too easy? It really is. Just start with these three steps for accepting people who they are:

Accept Others Where They Are: Recognize Everyone is Unique

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When we feel secure in how we’re living our lives, it’s natural to think others should do as we do. For example, if you went to college, got a degree, and then got a job, you might expect your children to follow the same path.

I homeschooled my children, so shouldn’t they homeschool theirs? The truth is, not everyone’s path is going to look like yours.

Your child may not be suited to college or has other ambitions after high school. Does this make them wrong? When we recognize everyone is unique and has their own path to follow, it becomes easier to accept them for who they are.

Friends accept others where they are
Accept Others Where They Are

It’s Okay to Disagree

Sometimes we see someone we love making choices we’re not comfortable with. Going back to the college example, maybe we’re worried that if our child takes a year off to travel to “find themselves” that they’ll never go back to school.

When the person you disagree with is an adult, and they’re not doing something to physically harm themselves or someone else, it becomes time to back off. Rather than feeling threatened or disappointed in their choices, ask yourself what you might be able to learn from them. Their unique point of view is something to celebrate. They, like you, are God’s precious creation.

What About You?

In the end, if you’re caught up in how other people (adults) are living their lives, you’re focusing your attention in the wrong place. The only person you can actually change is you. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start paying attention to different choices you could make that would create more joy in life and grow your faith.

Reasons Why We Find It Hard to Accept Things as They Are

When we set out to improve our lives, so much of what we need to learn is grounded in acceptance. 

  • We set out to accept who we are as individuals.
  • And we try to accept the people around us without changing them.
  • We need to learn that some things cannot be fixed.
  • And accept that sometimes we need to let something go and try something new.

For some reason, though, we tend to fight acceptance, even when we know it’s good for us in the long run. Why is it so hard?

Why Can’t We Accept Others Where They Are? We are Afraid

Most of our fear is grounded in the feeling that we will somehow lose control by giving in to something. If we accept our child is not going to college this year, we fear they won’t ever go.

Women at gym accepting others
Accept Others Where They Are

We fear that if we accept who we are now, we won’t ever change. Typically, these fears have no basis in reality. This is because fear has a way of getting under your skin. Think of these acronyms:

  • False
  • Evidence 
  • Appearing
  • Real
  • Future
  • Events 
  • Already
  • Ruined

To combat this fear, you need to ask yourself some hard questions. What is the root of this fear? Is it reasonable?

Do We Accept Others Where They Are? We Lack Faith

We don’t want to accept where we are or where we’re going because we really don’t know if everything is going to be okay. Here’s where you are required to trust that you have the ability needed to get where you want to be. Accept that you’re capable of taking this path, using history as your guide. Have you done this before, perhaps? If not, has someone else? If the answer is yes, then how can you apply those lessons?

We Expect Too Much from Others

 “Look for the positive. Not accepting others is a result of seeing the negative in them. Instead of focusing on why someone is different, I’m going to focus on what’s good about that person and his/her choices and actions. My way is not always the best one.”

ThoughtCatalog, Dani DiPirro

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Sometimes our acceptance is blocked by the worry that when we accept those around us, they’ll let us down somehow. In this case, you need to examine whether you’re asking too much, or if it’s your needs, you’re asking them to fulfill, not theirs.

We Lack Humility

Acceptance comes especially hard for those who think their way is always right. It’s hard to accept the ideas or input of those around you when you’re caught up in this kind of black and white thinking. By recognizing you don’t know everything, and that other people have valid contributions to make, you’ll find it easier to accept what someone else is doing might also be right.

Accepting things the way they are is absolutely crucial to your mental health. It’s exhausting to continually fight to be in control of everything, and it’s wildly impractical. Learn to let go. Accept the world around you, and you will finally find true happiness.

Strategies for Becoming More Accepting of Others

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When we seek to find true happiness, more often than not, the obstacles to that goal lie within ourselves. Our attitudes become our roadblocks, keeping us from enjoying fully the experiences waiting for us. 

The biggest culprit? The way we treat those around us. 

By becoming more accepting of others, we reframe our thoughts, as well as our feelings. We learn to let go of negative attitudes and dissatisfaction in our personal interactions and start to enjoy the process of meeting new people and old friends. We become happier with this one small change.

How do we go about doing that? Start with these six strategies:

Guard Your Thoughts

Acceptance begins with the thoughts going through your head. When you look at someone else, what’s your first thought? Are you immediately judgmental? It might be time to examine some of these messages and ask yourself where they came from. Are you reflecting on what you’ve been told by teachers or the media? Remind yourself it’s up to you to develop your own thought patterns and guide yourself over to more non-judgmental thoughts. 

Learn to Look on the Bright Side

Seeing only the negative in the people around you? Find something positive to focus on instead. Ask yourself what you like about this person. Find their good traits or something to admire. Soon this will become a habit, leading toward a more positive outlook whenever you meet someone new.

Avoid Black and White Thinking

There are a lot more ways to be accepting in the world than you might think. Rather than insisting there’s only your way to understand a situation, take a step back and ask yourself if this is truly the case. You’re going to find out not everything is so cut and dried. 

Drop the Perfectionism

Frequently, when we expect a lot from ourselves, we likewise expect a lot from the people around us. Learn to let go of this rigid, perfectionistic thinking. This leads you to more acceptance of others and makes your own life more enjoyable.

Live in the Moment & Accept Others Where They Are

When you get caught up in the past, it’s hard to see a person where they are now. Maybe they’ve screwed up the relationship before or done something else to hurt you. Move on. Accept people for where they are today.

Accept Others Where They are When You Put the Shoe on the Other Foot

How are you judging that other person? Would you like it if someone had that thought about you? If you don’t like the answer, it’s time to change your thought processes.

By employing these strategies, you’ll find both your mind and your horizons expand. You’ll discover contentment you never knew was possible. Acceptance of others, regardless of their differences, makes life richer and fuller than you ever imagined.

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