Last week we started part one by talking about the 5 basic human needs as defined by Psychologist Abraham Maslow: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Love and Belonging, Self-Esteem, and Self-Actualization. We are looking at ways to satisfying one of those basic needs, “Love and Belonging”, which refers to a human emotional need for interpersonal relationships, affiliating or being a part of something bigger than oneself, connectedness, and identifying as part of a group.
In David Richo’s book, How to be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys To Mindful Loving, he identifies these “keys” as attention, appreciate, acceptance, affection, allowing. The 5 A’s. These are what you will find in healthy and intimate relationships. Last week I covered “Attention.”
This week, we’re going to cover two more: Acceptance and Appreciation.
So, the second A for a healthy relationship is Acceptance.
What would it be like for you if you just let people be people? What would it be like if you just let you spouse be who they are without trying to change them, or wish they were different? Or your child, or your Mom, or that crazy neighbor? That’s what acceptance is: Embracing people for who they are, with all their funny ways of doing things: that noise he makes, the way she interrupts conversations, their insistence that the toilet paper roll goes under not over, the fact that they’ll never eat healthy even when they complain about feeling poorly, their love for the Dallas Cowboys. I’m just kidding. But I’m talking about all the things. All those little things that drive you crazy and you want to change. Now, I’m not saying you actually have to like the way are and how they choose to do things, or that you have to put up with unacceptable or hurtful behavior from others. That’s where boundaries come in. I’m just telling you that the opposite of acceptance is expectations, or wanting to change them. And you’re going to be sorely miserable because you cannot change people.
In Life Coaching, we call expectations Manuals. A Manual is an instruction guide we have for someone in our lives about how we would like them to behave so that we can feel good and be happy. Having Manuals for people is problematic when your emotional happiness is directly tied to their behaving a certain way. Again, because you can’t make them behave a certain way, you’re going to end up miserable with all your Manuals for people.
If you’d like to hear more about Manuals, I suggest you listen to Episode 108 – How To…Keep Your Peace. I recorded that just before Thanksgiving last year, so it might be a good one to review as we’re moving back into the holidays…with all the people.
When we’re willing to lay down the Manuals we have for others we open ourselves up to true acceptance. True acceptance is being unconditionally loved for who you are, flaws and all, without judgement. Acceptance means being seen with mercy, love, respect, and understanding. This is the most desirable and healthy relationship, because when you know you are loved with true acceptance, then you feel safe to be one hundred percent yourself. You are calm, relaxed, you feel comfortable and worthy. You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You’re not people pleasing. You’re not checking your every move or word. You don’t fear being judged or criticized, or fear falling short of someone’s expectations. Do you know what that feels like? Most of us do. We start feeling anxious, self-conscious, intimidated, not good enough. What an awful place to be. It’s usually a situation or environment you’d like to avoid, right? What if that’s how the people you have Manuals for feel about being around you? Ouch. But it’s something we should look at and not ignore, especially if we want to have healthy relationships.
Now, back to Boundaries for a moment. When someone’s behavior is unloving, or hurtful, or angry, or unkind, you have the right to decide how you want to respond, and hopefully acting like an adult in the relationship. That means deciding for yourself what YOU want to do when someone does something. Note that it’s not what you want the other person to do or stop doing that’s being decided. It’s not you demanding them to change their behavior. It’s what YOU will do when it happens. For example, if someone is smoking on an outdoor patio, I will simply move to another part of the patio where I can’t smell the smoke. Boundaries are about me, not them. If you want to hear more about Boundaries, listen to Episodes 37 through 39, Setting Healthy Boundaries.
Love And Belonging is not just being a part of something bigger than yourself, but also includes belonging outside of others. By this I mean, having agency and belonging to yourself, your own ideas, and dreams, and desires. And the way that you do this is by accepting yourself. Yes, we’ve been talking about how to accept others. But you’ll never be able to do that until you’re able to accept yourself with unconditional love, flaws and all, without self-judgement. It’s you giving yourself grace, respect, kindness, and understanding. It’s you accepting who you are and how God made you, uniquely, specifically, beautifully and wonderfully made. And this is done so completely and deeply when you belong to the very One who created you. When you have given your life over to Him, this is where true acceptance for yourself creates the most authentic you. The way you act is determined from your thoughts. If you have thoughts that God made you on purpose for a purpose, and that all your quirks, your personality, your intellect, all of you, is purposeful and good, then those thoughts will produce a healthy form of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Learning to accept that we are all created so differently, we think differently, we process things differently, we behave differently even to the same circumstances. We are all different. And the faster you start acting inside of your relationships like it’s a good thing instead of a problem, the greater appreciation you will have all the people in your life.
A beautiful segue to the third of the 5 A’s For a Healthy Relationship. And that is Appreciation.
Yes, it’s important to appreciate yourself. But in relationships with others, feeling appreciated and respected is so important. It’s as simple as acknowledging what you love about the other person, their gifts, talents, and skills. Especially appreciating those things in someone else that’s not like you. When you see and point out qualities that you don’t have, it creates connectedness through humility. And this might be, or should be obvious, it goes a long way when you voice appreciation for acts of kindness and for the things they do, big or small. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that when someone passes away, people gather to tell one another what they loved about that person. How much more beneficial and impactful would those words be if you said them directly to the person while they’re still here in your life? I think it would be good for them and good for you.
A last word on appreciation: If you find that you’re experiencing resentment or contempt for someone or holding hurt or anger towards them, it’s likely you have not taken time to find something to appreciate them for. Just finding one thing can change the trajectory of a relationship. And that’s because of the way your brain works. It’ll start looking to stack evidence to prove it true. Appreciation can be a steppingstone to reconciliation.
Friend, if you want to deepen intimacy in any of your relationships, you both need to feel safe, accepted, and appreciated. One person can change a relationship. And that’s because when you change the way you are relating to someone with acceptance and appreciation, they will automatically change the way they respond to you. So, as I said early on, you cannot change other people, but you are in control of changing yourself. When you change, it cannot help but change the whole dynamic of the relationship. Friend, what are some ways you can see that you’re able to create healthier relationships by giving intentional acceptance and appreciation?
Relationships are not easy, we know this. In fact, sometimes they’re downright difficult to navigate. If you need help, I can help you. I’ve put a link in the show notes to book a free 30-minute call at your convenience if you’d like to chat about it.
Also, get the free, downloadable listener’s guide with prompt questions to help you work through this topic.
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the last of the 5A’s of a Healthy Relationship here on Another Beautiful Life.
What would it be like for you if you just let people be people without trying to change them or wish they were different? Your spouse, or your child, or your Mom, or that crazy neighbor? That’s what acceptance is: Embracing people for who they are, with all their funny ways of doing things: that noise, that tick, that obsession, those things that drive you crazy.
In this part two episode, we’re talking about Acceptance and Appreciation from David Ricoh’s 5 A’s to “Mindful Loving” to create more healthy relationships.
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