The Seventh Principle of Relationships: Acceptance

‘The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.’

Thomas Merton

The Seventh Principle of Relationships is:

Accept others as they are, not just as you want them to be.

Acceptance means acknowledging others and valuing their right to be different to you. You should not expect others to edit themselves for you. Nor can you make others change unless they want to. You can, however, understand yourself better and choose your attitude. This is a lesson some people never learn.

Love and Fear

Ultimately every response you get from another person is born out of one of the primary emotions, love and fear.

Your capacity for giving and receiving love is directly related to how much love you have for yourself. The way you treat others is either fearful or loving. Love fosters relationships, fear does not. It distorts your thinking and erects barriers.

Everyone wants to love and be loved. If you encounter someone who is aggressive or shy, remember that they are fearful in some way. If someone is rude, it’s because they’re hurting. Ask yourself, ‘What are they afraid of?’ This simple question can help unlock many a difficult situation. Similarly, if you find yourself responding negatively to another person, ask yourself ‘What am I afraid of?’

Fear is at the root of every emotional problem and behind most problems in relationships. If you choose not to be guided by love, fear will take over. Hurt people hurt. No-one is unkind unless in pain. In relationships, love really does conquer all.

Co-dependent relationships

In co-dependent relationships, people think the love is genuine and unconditional, but in reality one or both are scared they could not survive without the other. Co-dependent relationships are born out of fear. They result from believing that:

  • Someone else is responsible for your feelings, including your happiness.
  • You are not separate individuals with your own identities and ambitions, but are merged into one.
  • Your problems are caused mainly by others.
  • You can control others by manipulating, ignoring, or threatening them, etc.

The roots of co-dependency are often to be found in childhood.

Co-dependency prevents individuals from taking responsibility for themselves. Real love in relationships can only exist when both partners are perfectly capable of being apart but make a free choice to be together. It is a decision made from strength, not weakness.

‘The biggest thing that keeps people from having the relationships they want is that they’re looking for a relationship to be the solution to their problems.’

 Anthony Robbins


©David Lawrence Preston, 5.8.2016

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