Like and Accept Everyone?
Recently someone asked me the reason I like and accept everyone. Being the person I am, I asked them to explain by giving me an example. They cited an example of my reception of the addicted clients I have worked with for twenty years. Further, they said that it seems I accept all the things they say, do and believe.
The truth, for me, is I do accept everyone.
I believe people are going to be who they are going to be. Moreover, I strongly disagree that it is my place in life to judge who they are. Or to attempt to mold them into whom I believe they should become.
Instead of the word acceptance, perhaps, that should be replaced with the word understand.
I fully understand that people are going to be a product of the environment with which they’ve been surrounded most of their lives. I think of a colleague who told me of a client who came from multi-generational abuse of the “system”. The client said he was unemployed but he should be getting “a check” pretty soon because he had been approved for disability. When asked his disability, he said, “I don’t know. My mom filed all that paperwork”.
While that scenario may make your head shake, it might be further frustrate you to know that this client didn’t see anything “wrong” with that story. As a matter of fact, he didn’t realize there was anyone that might. The client didn’t know any “better” behavior because he didn’t know any different.
Addicts who relapse in treatment or after don’t make me mad. Christians who tell me I’m going to hell because I am Catholic don’t make me mad. Society members who don’t know why I counsel people with addiction or tell me it is a “lost cause” don’t cause me to question my career choice. Students who attempt to bait me into debate about a high-voltage topic in class don’t make me mad. Actually, there aren’t many situations that do cause me to become angry. And when I do become angry it is usually not the situation, but my mood when I am involved in the situation.
My personal opinion? People are innately good. Do they always act as if they are? No. Neither do I. Another opinion, less frequently than you would like to admit, if you are intent on blaming the rest of the world for your troubles, people do not intentionally attempt to ruin your life. And if by some possibility, another person is setting out to destroy you, can they really? I mean, can they if you don’t let them?
So often I hear people use phrases that cause me to cringe. Some of those:
She’s trying to make me miserable.
I have no choice.
I never, ever ______________________.
I can’t stand ______________________.
You just don’t understand.
I have no choice (yes, I put that in there twice).
Those are places I have been before. I understand (not accept) people truly believe what they believe. People act out of their wiring. Until they find the tools, information, opportunities, and reasons to behave differently, why would they? I can tell you why they wouldn’t.
They don’t know how.
They don’t realize they need to.
They don’t even know other options are available.
No one taught them.
They don’t know anything different.
My Co-author, Tyrone Carrington, put it in words I best understand: “We are written this way. Why would we be different?” Being different requires acknowledging, owning and making a daily commitment to doing something different.
You may wonder if that means I am co-dependent and let people walk all over me and act any way they want…while I just smile and go along.
Not at all. I believe in rules. I am probably more rigid about rules than I care to be, honestly. If I am providing continuing education to a group who have rules that state you have to teach 50 minutes of the hour in order to get a certificate of completion, that is what we do, even if they don’t want to, even if I don’t want to.
You may wonder if that means I have no belief system of my own.
Nope. I have a strong belief system I live by. I teach it to my son. I share it with anyone who is genuinely curious about it and asks. I vote accordingly, I act accordingly, and I live accordingly. I just don’t ask you to. I don’t believe my place in the world is to mold you into being me (I said that twice, must be important to me).
How is it, you may wonder, that I understand but don’t accept all behavior. I understand people are who they are. So I don’t see a need to feel angry when they aren’t what I want them to be. But, I don’t have to accept that behavior. If there is a rule in a group that a client cannot be more than ten minutes late, I adhere to that rule. I understand people are sometimes late, but if the rule says you can’t be, then I don’t allow it.
In my personal life, my choice is not to involve myself with toxic people. Even if I love them, even if I understand them, even if at one time they were close to me. My choice is not to invite chaos in and not to allow it to remain if I spot it. If someone consistently shows me they will only bring pandemonium into my peaceful life, I don’t continue the relationship. I believe I get to be the one to chose how and who is in my life. This is an example of the truth for me not liking everyone.
Yes, there are people who I don’t like. There are people who irritate me, people who aggravate me, people I wish were different, people I wish would grow up, people I wish would take responsibility for their own behaviors and decisions and quit blaming everyone else for their circumstances…..I understand them but don’t have to include them in my life.
I actually believe this makes my life easier. I run my life. I help my son make the best decisions to run his. And that is about all I can fit on my plate. It frees up space for serenity. This deletes sleepless nights of plotting how I can make another person change. It allows me to do more of the things I want and enjoy.
I can open my mind to get to know people I might not otherwise. I can carry on conversations and learn from people very different than me. I can usually be anywhere, with most anyone and enjoy something about the experience. Why? Because I don’t walk into a room, go to a city, do work, take on a challenge that I feel I “have to”. Instead, I chose those.
And I don’t do any of the above in judgment of others. And you know what I am talking about. You know someone like this. Or maybe you are someone like this…..they walk into a room saying, “I don’t want to go to this stupid holiday party. I don’t even like anyone. It is going to be horrible. I can’t stand this. I am never going to have fun. I have no choice about going but I am leaving thirty minutes after we get there”. Yep. You know this person. And when they walk in (because they don’t like themselves, not other people) they immediately start picking everyone and everything a part.
Did you see her shoes?
Can you believe how fat he has gotten?
Oh, my! He is here with her?
What kind of food is this? It looks awful.
Did you see the dining room? The floor looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in months.
Can you believe what she just said?
She is trying to make me mad.
Did you see how he just looked at me?
That is exhausting. Stop it.
Access Counseling Group is presenting
A free workshop that is built for everyone!
Communication: It ain’t just what we say!
Remember the last conversation you had when you walked away shaking your head, wondering how that other person didn’t hear a word you said? Have you ever wondered how much of what someone hears is influenced by what they believe?
Many people miss the intrapersonal priority in communication. How sizable is the influence of this on your relationships (with clients, friends, family, significant others)?
Have you given much thought to what you think? The reason you think what you think? The reason you do what you do? Why you are who you are? Or are you living unconsciously?
Participate in this upbeat, active & informative workshop that’s built for everyone!
Paula Heller Garland, MS, LCDC has diverse professional experience in addiction counseling, speaking and program design. Paula is currently a lecturer at The University of North Texas, the #1 Rehabilitation Counseling program in the state of Texas.
Tyrone Carrington, BAA is an up & coming motivational speaker. With a degree in Criminal Justice, Tyrone currently works in corporate America. His diverse experience in life, employment and education bring an exciting and captivating component to his presentations.
Paula and Tyrone are currently working with Kendall-Hunt Publishing on Living in Consciousness, a workbook and DVD. You will be the first to get a sneak peek into this original material.