Changing yourself in any way is a major challenge, but learning how to be more accepting of others is a skill that can enable you to be a more positive, happy and successful person.
Experts have never-ending advice on how to be more accepting of others. I have included some tips for you to start off the new year right with improved acceptance of others.
Stephanie Somanchi, a work-life effectiveness trainer and executive coach, said in an email that accepting others mainly depends on how you feel about yourself.
“Accepting others begins with accepting ourselves,” Somanchi said. “Usually, the disapproval we feel is a reflection of an inner aspect we reject in ourselves. By focusing on self-approval we gain the strength to do what is best first for ourselves, which then dissolves the need to judge others.”
Liz Friedman, the program director of the organization MotherWoman, said in an email that learning to accept others more will also help women to accept themselves.
She has four strategies that will help you work on your acceptance skills:
1. “Refrain from giving advice and trying to solve the ‘problem.’ We want to help. It's a natural instinct. But often that instinct to help is experienced as criticism. Remember the last time someone gave you advice?”
2. “Just listen. This is the most tremendous gift that we can give anyone. Our listening allows them to think more fully, connect with us more deeply and show us who they are and what their challenges are.”
3. “Remind yourself that every person is doing the very best that they can do under the given circumstances. With support, compassion and encouragement they will be able to act on their best intelligence and seek the support and advice they need.”
4. “Practice, practice, practice. Every moment is a new moment to practice acceptance and non-judgement. Don't criticize yourself for the internal critical voices in your head. We all have been trained in judging others from an early age. It will take time to unlearn this habit.”
Sheela Raja, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in an email that you have to keep in mind all the circumstances that influence the way people act in order to tackle the challenge of accepting others.
“We tend to think that someone is behaving a certain way because of 1) their personality and 2) how they feel toward us,” Raja said. “In reality, people are also highly influenced by what is going on around them and their recent experiences.”
Therefore, work on thinking about other peoples’ behavior in a new light.
“Instead of ‘personalizing’ and thinking that someone's behavior is targeted to you, consider that they might have had a bad day or have other things going on,” Raja said. “This approach goes a long way toward understanding and accepting other people.”
Kim Leatherdale, a licensed professional counselor, said in an email that it is necessary to start with your own self-esteem in order to accept others, and it’s vital to see people as equal no matter what they do.
“Accepting others starts by accepting yourself through healthy self esteem,” Leatherdale. “Healthy self esteem recognizes we all have successes and failings. In addition, everyone has intrinsic worth which is not increased nor decreased by actions, words, or thoughts. It just exists.”
Don’t let disagreements change your acceptance of others.
“When you wrap your head around intrinsic worth of self and realize everyone has it, than acceptance becomes easier,” Leatherdale said. “No one is better or less than another. We can be upset or pleased by someone's behavior, but it doesn't change the fact that they are a human being with worth.”
Phyllis Quinlan, a registered nurse and personal coach, said in an email that one way of accepting others at a greater level is to think not in terms of people being “bad” or “good,” but as “different.”
“One’s ability to accept another person is closely linked with one’s ability to let go of judgments about that person,” Quinlan said. “The need for judgment is usually rooted in the need to assign a value to that person when you compare them to yourself. The challenge is to let go of the need to compare/judge.”
By thinking of someone as “different,” you are not necessarily judging them and placing them in a “good” or “bad” category, and you leave more time open to learn about the person and reconsider the characteristics that may seem unappealing to you.
“Approaching someone from a vantage point of he or she is 'different' allows you time/room to gain some perspective before walking away from the possibility of getting to know this person and maybe including them in your circle of acquaintances,” Quinlan said.
Somanchi, Stephanie. Email interview. Jan. 3, 2012.
Friedman, Liz. Email interview. Jan. 3, 2012.
Raja, Sheela. Email interview. Jan. 3, 2012.
Leatherdale, Kim. Email interview. Jan. 4, 2012.
Quinlan, Phyllis. Email interview. Jan. 3, 2012.
Reviewed January 5, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith