What is Acceptance?
Short hair, a few freckles, unsure of your athletic prowess, glasses with an elastic black strap keeping your visual crutches tight against the back of your head, you ponder, when you will be picked for the team. Girls and boys alike all over the world are picked by team members, coaches, and gym instructors. Apprehension and anxiety slowly build, for the last time this occurred you were picked next to last. We yearn to be accepted, to be wanted, to be at least considered to have a chance. In sports, in families, as children wanting attention from their parents, and in relationships and marriages we look for acceptance. Acceptance IS there whether we admit it or not. Daily, at the job we look for acceptance from employees and especially our employer. This phenomenological drive can become too consuming and we can actually make it too important, too embellished, then it actually needs to be. When we are young it is imperative for our self esteem, for our growth as humans to have normal acceptance from our parents, once that does or does not happen and we find ourselves in early adulthood it is time to rely on one person, “YOU.” Easier written then implemented.
Acceptance then, is an important factor in emotional growth, and the development of the self esteem. When this is lacking, or grossly becomes absent many struggle and seek this out from a variety of sources. Sometimes an Uncle, Aunt, neighbor, or friend fills the gap. This is also when the disillusioned teen develops that peer group that has the moral stability of a grade school built toothpick log cabin. Peers that seek out these less than desirable peers unconsciously pick out peers that are either lower functioning, unmotivated, involved in excessive drugs, and have the common sense and judgement of a broken steering column. This sends those individuals driving their path of life on a wavering, uncertain path and one of the primary foundations was the lack of proper acceptance.
After enough failures some actually pull through and straighten their road out by a high functioning man or woman in a relationship or by basic conditioned-response behavior. Action “A” is illegal which equals trouble, action “B” produces positive responses from loved ones and I feel good about myself, hmmm I will pick more of option “B.” Acceptance then begins to slowly turn and evolve. The human being slowly but surely starts accepting themselves, and feels good about themselves due to positive return on their actions. Ah the development of self through self actualization.
How does acceptance play into adult relationships?
In adulthood we often fall in love or think we fall in love, get married and maybe have some children. in marriages, and relationships “acceptance” becomes an issue. To deny this is to deny the reality of human interaction. Yes we can take a confidant stance that borders on arrogant, ” One just should accept me for who I am and I am not going to change.” We all change and in relationships there is a slow insidious change that occurs which is that each mate becomes a little like the other. In order for acceptance to occur there MUST be sacrifice, accommodation, and respect. There must be a giving back to each other in ALL areas. These areas are financial, emotional, sexual, house hold duties and partnership. Acceptance of each other is much, much easier when we respect each other and give back. Yes we must accept ourselves, but there are two parties and even the shortcomings should be accepted with an acknowledgment that each will have a want and desire to change them.
How do we accept the lack of acceptance?
When we realize that our parents for whatever reason fell way short in the parenting game how do we come to terms with this realization. It is not an easy road, this is a fact. Parents do the best they can do, at least for the most part. Bad behavior is many times learned behavior. When we stop looking for the acceptance, the warm fuzzies, the need or want to be acknowledged is when we feel the pressure leave us. We must accept us for who we are. Be confident with us and let the parental chips fall where they may. A friend of mine who’s parents were missionaries pushed religion on him daily, every day with no mercy. There was never a game, a trip, a good night book, without some conversation on religion and God. Even as an adult this banter was pushed to an amazing degree. At his polite request to please respect his views, was met with more pushing. There was no acceptance of him as a human and his beliefs. This walk leaves one starving for acceptance and a need to be liked, and HEARD from others.
As parents we do a lot of behaviors that are less than perfect, less than the right thing to do, however we hope our children will always know we love them. We must respect them, and accept our children as individuals not as extensions of US, but off spring that have their own ideas and own values. Accepting them will only help them in their future endeavors. There should not be a competition, a need to one up the other, but mutual respect. By the time our children reach early adult hood there should never be a control of their finances, especially when they have a job, living on their own and are self sufficient. Acceptance also means cutting the umbilical chord. Acceptance means allowing your children to help you when it is time.
Find your confidence, believe in your ability, do not look for the acceptance. When you follow your path, yours alone, and morally do the right thing for you, acceptance will follow. Keep looking for acceptance and you will be met with rejection and never be fulfilled. Like a Styrofoam cup with a tiny hole in the bottom, you can never keep it full. You will not be able to patch it up with the need for acceptance.