I wrote an article about acceptance some years back but thought the topic is so important that I’d write an updated version of the same. A lot of people are now talking about “unconditional love” and the act of acceptance. I’ve been writing about this for years. And yes, part of the process of creating transformational relationships is to come to a place of acceptance–acceptance of both yourself and your mate. It is part of phase three in The Pathway to Love and is the gateway towards an incredibly intimate, passionate, and fulfilling relationship.
However, there are important things to know about what acceptance truly means and what it does not. There are other things to know about how one goes about getting there. So in the interest of setting things straight, here’s what you need to know.
First, acceptance does not mean yes. While it is imperative to accept someone for who they are, the values they hold, and the habits and behaviors they present, this does not mean “yes.” In other words, it is important that you first accept what is, in order to make powerful choices about what works for you and what does not.
This is easier said than done. People resist accepting what is. In doing so, they perpetuate dysfunction, conflict, and tolerance to unhealthy behaviors in their relationships. However, before you judge, understand that the resistance is understandable. For when you fully accept someone or something for who and what they are, you are then confronted with choice. We resist acceptance because full responsibility comes with it. Responsibility for our lives, our relationships, ourselves.
For example, let’s say you have a spouse that is an alcoholic. Accepting this will enable you to better stop any co-dependent behavior or false hope for change. Once you accept that your spouse is an alcoholic, then it is your responsibility to consciously choose if this is the right person for you–addiction and all. If you decide yes, then you should no longer be trying to change, control or deny their addiction. If you decide no, then it is time to honor your needs and well-being and let go with love.
Accepting someone for who he/she is, warts and all, is a serious act. Doing so requires you to be completely honest with yourself–what you can live with and what you cannot. People avoid acceptance not so much because it is hard to accept someone or something as is, but because it will force them to make a conscious choice –Yes or No. Can I live with this or not? Does this relationship meet my most important needs or not? Does this relationship compromise my personal integrity or not? These are not easy questions. They will confront you at your core. Acceptance is risky. It puts you at a cross roads. You either move forward toward more intimacy or face walking away from someone you love.
The second thing I want you to know about acceptance is that it has its proper time and place in the life cycle of your relationship. It cannot come too early. It is impossible to skip phases. Acceptance is part of phase three. Therefore, you must go through phase one and two before you even have the option of going to phase three. Too many people would like you to believe that all you need to do is decide to be accepting and you will. This is simply not true. Relationships go through a developmental sequence. You will have to experience the object-fantasy phase and the self-discovery phase before you can move on to the personal transformation phase (aka phase three). When two people get together, they automatically develop a pseudo acceptance–this is not a real acceptance because it is based on the fantasy of who someone is in the early stages of relationship, not on the reality of who someone truly is. People reveal and see the truth in one another sometime later in phase two. Only then, with the struggle of losing the fantasy and understanding the reality, is real acceptance possible. This is so important to understand. Don’t mistake the lure of hormonal ecstasy with real acceptance. Real acceptance comes with the effort that two people put into struggling with disappointment, frustration, differences, and conflict. Real acceptance–and real intimacy–is earned. It is not easy to obtain and it is fleeting in nature. One must earn it again and again.
So for those of you that are up to the challenge (and its equal rewards), I say go for it and do the work. Choose acceptance. Venture into the powerful world of intimacy. Claim one another and then make the choice–Yes or No.
To learn more about the four phases of The Pathway to Love click here.
If you or someone you know would like help in how to navigate the four phases of their relationship (regardless of which phase they currently reside), don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here to help. I provide personalized counseling and coaching. And if you want to start right now, go and purchase The Pathway to Love at-home program. You don’t need to wait. You can begin the process today. Take advantage of the opportunity receive the support and guidance you deserve.