For a long time, I had something called a deal-beaker list and it contained everything from someone chewing with their mouth open, to cheating on a partner and everything in between. I used this deal breaker list to close myself off from people and situations that I found annoying, with no self accountability for what may actually be something in MY life that needed adjustment... perish the thought.
After many years of isolating myself from new relationships, friends and family, I began to consider some of the things on my list. It became clear that maybe, even though some of them were annoying, they weren't exactly deal breakers. Being open to accepting something that we consider unacceptable on some level, is a huge first step towards healing. In order to do this, we must stop to evaluate whether the situation is really unacceptable or whether it’s our perception that is blocking our acceptance.
For instance, abuse in any form whatsoever, is unacceptable. There is no excuse for abuse. It's easy to say that there are many forms and gray areas and while this is true, I think it ultimately comes back to how we feel when we are interacting with someone. If we feel worse than we did before the interaction or if we have been harmed in any way, it’s a soul calling to step away. It’s an intuitive hit that this person may not be the right one for us to have in our lives.
On the flip side, we may find another person’s behavior unacceptable. Maybe they chew with their mouth open and this bothers us. That behavior isn’t necessarily harmful to us in any way, it’s more of an annoyance and personal preference. This is the type of situation where we have a choice. If the person is important to us, we may choose to find a way to accept it.
Over the years, I’ve found a few options for accepting the unacceptable:
Realizing it’s not about us
Acknowledging that although we may be annoyed and wouldn't exhibit the behavior, it is not harmful to ourselves or others is a great first step.
Focus on feelings
What is it that truly bothers us about this situation? Asking ourselves what the open-mouth chewing is bringing up for us, will help to trigger memories of the first time we were annoyed by it. Notice the people, situation and location of the memory. How did you feel at the time? This exercise is helpful for understanding the root cause of the annoyance and journaling all the reasons that it bothers us.
Set up some healthy boundaries
If we realize that we simply do not want to be around the behavior, but still want the person in our life, then boundaries are an excellent way to be kind to all involved. For example, you may choose not to share any meals together.
Focus on love
Focusing on what we love and appreciate about the person or situation brings about a sense of gratitude that far outweighs any negativity. Gratitude grows, so the more we water the situation with love and appreciation, the more it flourishes. This is also an opportunity to honor how we really feel, so it’s important not to judge ourselves for this. Taking time to appreciate all of the amazing things about ourselves helps to release any judgement or guilt stored that’s affecting our relationships with others.
Life will never stop sending us beautiful opportunities to love and appreciate ourselves more and to heal and grow from situations. Often, these growth lessons appear in the form of people in our lives. By giving ourselves more love as we go through this journey together, we make space for more loving interactions and people to enter.
How about you? How do you accept something that is unacceptable? Feel free to share your stories in the comments!