Everyone does it and we are all guilty of it: evaluating others who don’t act according to our values, a.k.a. judging. Some judging can be harmless, but when judgment turns to righteousness about your own behavior, it is time to reflect and understand that accepting others for who they are can bring refreshingly new energy into your friendships and relationships. Accepting individual differences of the people in our lives can be very challenging. The key to accepting differences is to recognize these feelings and use the below tools to get to the root of what is upsetting you.
Accepting Others For Who They Are
- Be aware of your thoughts: People are in your life for a variety of different reasons, but people are not in your life for the sole purpose of making you happy. Be aware of how others’ behavior makes you react. When you start to have judgmental thoughts about others and what you think they should be doing, try to push those out of your mind and attempt to focus on accepting others for who they are.
- Focus on the positive: Not accepting differences in someone stems from having negative thoughts about that person. Negative thoughts are natural but never produce good energy for you or the other person. Instead, focus on the positive, what you like about this person, and why you are happy that they are in your life. One great technique to use when you notice yourself having a negative thought about someone is to replace that thought with a compliment towards the person. For example, if you are dreading going to a meeting with a co-worker, recognize this negative energy and before you enter the meeting, take a minute to list three positive things about this person. You could say, “they are extremely dedicated to this project, they are reliable, and, we have never missed a deadline having this person on the team.” This practice a great way to silently give another person praise, and will surprisingly change your outlook and energy towards that person.
- Understand your perception: When we struggle to accept others for who they are, we tend to approach situations in a very black and white manner. We believe that our perceptions are “right” and others who have different perspectives are “wrong.” However, life and relationships do not work that way: there is always a gray area of circumstances and situations that need to be considered. Be aware of this when you start to judge someone else. You cannot assume that your approach to something is the only option. When you stop labeling your perceptions as “right”, you start to open yourself to other possibilities.
- Don’t project your feelings: Many times when you are not accepting of others, it is because you are projecting your own insecurities and criticisms of yourself onto that person. When you find yourself judging another, take a moment to think about if the behavior you are criticizing is something you struggle to change about yourself. If the answer is yes then stop associating that behavior with this person. Instead, use the tactic above to focus on the positive and replace your negative thought with a compliment towards the person.
- Reverse the situation: If you knew that someone was judging your actions and behaviors, how would that make you feel? You would probably wonder why your character was being attacked and why you were being judged for simply being yourself. Thinking in this way should help you to accept others for who they are.
- Use the power of acceptance: We never really know what someone is going through in his or her life. Part of accepting others for who they are is harnessing the power of acceptance. Using this energy does not mean you have to agree with them or discard your opinions about certain topics. It simply means that you need to shift your own focus to accept that person’s reality. A great technique to harness the power of acceptance is to ask yourself what specifically about their personality bothers you so much. Next, ask yourself if you can soften your approach towards this person and if you can focus on the positive aspects of having this person in your life. Think about how much your relationship might improve with the power of acceptance and by focusing on what you like about this person.
When you accept someone else you open up new energy to give to him or her and to receive from him or her. You also open up space for that person to find their own path and live their own truth. Judgmental and negative energy can be stifling, especially because we never truly know what others are going through. If you focus on acceptance and projecting positive energy, your relationship with someone can shift dramatically. The Yoga Warrior has some great posts on improving communication and avoiding common communication mistakes. Take a look at these as you think about accepting others for who they are.