Wouldn’t life be wonderful if everyone just behaved exactly like we wanted them to? Our friends, co-workers, partners and family just did exactly what we told them to and behaved exactly how we expected them to?
Ok, so that probably has about as much of a chance of happening as pigs flying does.
Even though most of us know that we cannot expect people in our lives to behave exactly like we wish they would, so many of us waste much of our precious energy and time trying to force our own agenda on the people in our lives.
And when they don’t comply, we waste even more time and energy being sad, angry or frustrated by the fact that they are not acting exactly like we thought they should have. Not only does this constant struggle to make people be who we want them to be leave us feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, but it also causes problems in our relationships with them.
When people feel controlled or manipulated into changing, it is most likely that they will get defensive and upset and do exactly the opposite of what we want them to.
Isn’t that how we would act if someone was doing the same to us?
Maybe a stranger forgot to say “Excuse me” when they walked by, or maybe a friend forgot about a lunch date we had with them, or our spouse didn’t remember to make the bed before they went to work in the morning.
Whatever the case may be, when we impose our idea on others and allow it to upset us when they don’t behave according to our idea, we are not only letting our ego take over and convince us that they are in the “wrong”, but we are also sitting in complete resistance of the “what is.”
This means we are upset and offended by something that most likely was NOT intended to be a personal attack and we are allowing ourselves to be victims. Anytime we let the actions of another person control our emotions to the point that we are offended, angry, etc… we have given them the power to disturb our peace.
What we are really saying is, “Your behavior has the power to upset me. Therefore, my happiness is dependent upon you behaving a certain way. Unless you act like I want you to, I am not happy, therefore I am always at your mercy.”
Anytime our own happiness is left in the hands of another person, no matter how great we get along with that person, it is never a good idea. There will always be a time when they don’t act exactly according to our own agenda and therefore it is almost assured that we will get upset by them at some point.
Now with all this being said, there are going to be people we meet in life who ARE intentionally trying to push our buttons. It may be in a more deliberate way by doing something like calling us names, or physically trying to attack us. Or it may be in a more manipulative manner by saying or doing things “jokingly” that they know will hurt our feelings or get us upset.
Either way, in order to move through the situation in a healthier and more productive manner, we must do probably the last thing we would think would make a situation go more smoothly… accept others exactly as they are.
Accepting another person’s behavior fully is usually a lot easier said than done, but it is the
only thing that truly frees us from being prisoners of their actions. Technically, it is no one else’s responsibility to make sure we are happy and satisfied at all times.
The world doesn’t revolve around how we expect every situation to go. We can’t force someone to do, say or act exactly how we want them to. We do however, have complete power and control over our own actions and behavior.
So if we find in personal relationships that a person has consistently made us feel sad, or angry, or abused even, we have complete control on whether or not we choose to continue to put up with their behavior or whether or not we choose to cut off the relationship with that person, but we have zero control on whether or not they will ever become the person we want them to be.
By only focusing on our own behavior and our own reactions, we always remain captain of our own ship. We remain in complete control over our own choices and therefore are not helpless puppets, waiting for their behavior to tell us whether we can be happy or sad.
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” Michael J. Fox
Accepting others as they are has nothing to do with allowing ourselves to be mistreated and walked all over. It only means that we stop resisting the “what is” of the present moment by wishing it was different. Instead of wasting precious time in the “You should have done…, “ or “You could have acted like this…” and “If I were you, I would have…”, we deal with what actually DID happen.
We cannot force the past to have been different, we can only deal with life as it is presented to us in that particular moment. By dealing with “what is” only, we actually learn the art of responding vs reacting.
When we respond we give ourselves space to deal with a situation in a “what part of this situation do I have the power to change?” manner.
When we react we immediately jump to yelling or another form of defense because we are imposing our preconceived beliefs on how they “should” have acted, which proves to be a futile effort.
With some practice in the art of accepting, we soon realize that not blaming anyone for anything actually proves to be the most empowering thing we have ever done for ourselves.
At this point we take full responsibility for our lives and stop insisting that others change to meet our “standards” of how we think things should go. We literally take back our own happiness by not leaving it the hands of another person.