In a perfect world, we would only interact with kind, considerate and like-minded people. No one would ever be cranky, snippy, or take pot shots at us. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. And frankly, it would be pretty uninteresting to be around all this sameness. However, we sometimes come across people who just seem to push our buttons. In most cases, we accept that we can’t get along with everyone and just avoid these people. But what do we do when we can’t just walk away from them? They might be co-workers or even a member of our family.
Our mindfulness practice helps us be aware of our emotions and teaches us to pause before we judge or react. In other words, being present gives us the necessary space to consider our feelings and thoughts before we form our beliefs and judgments. Relationships breakdowns when people start “belief wars” and try to convince each other that their agenda or beliefs are superior. By practicing intentional acceptance of others’ differences—whatever they are—will stop the inner and outer wars in our relationships, lives, and communities.
Keep in mind, acceptance doesn’t mean you need to agree or even like them. It just means you accept them as they are. Learning how to stop judging others is healing for everyone involved. Being judgmental and critical becomes a habit over time. Some us of have been raised in critical or demanding families and learned to judge others as a way of life.
Some people judge others as a reflection of their self-judgments; they project on to others and see what they don't appreciate in themselves. Others use arrogance as a way to temporarily feel better or more important. Finding ways to be loving and accepting can replace old ways of relating and become a new habit. As you develop your mindfulness practice and become more in tune with your emotions and thoughts, you will begin to see how we respond habitually to events and people in our lives.
Here's a path to acceptance for you to try with a challenging relationship:
- Consider someone you have difficulty relating to or someone you are in conflict with. Reflect on the following the questions and before you make a choice about a way forward.
- Are you attributing intentions or hidden meaning to words or actions that might not be true?
- Is there another way to view the situation that might shine a light on this person’s actions?
- What might be causing this person to act this way?
- What positives does this person possess? Can you find at least three good things about this person?
- Consider the things you don’t like in this person. Are they things you don’t like in yourself?
Wait until you are coming from a calm and balanced perspective, then have a conversation with this person to establish your feelings and perhaps set boundaries. Speak with kindness – communicate from your heart. You might be surprise what you discover. No matter the outcome you can be comforted by the fact that your communication came from the heart.
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