I find it strange that people would choose to only associate with those who are most like them. And it just goes to show how out of touch people are with reality regarding their expectations and acceptance of others.
It is true that most wish that other people were more like them. And, they become peevish or easily irritated, even by the most unimportant things about people that are different from them.
The list of peeves is endless. We wish that other people would be honest and truthful, be on time, do what they say they will do, be more positive, have a worldview, cease showing up without notice, stop complaining about every little thing, acting like they are hurt or sad just to get attention, or that others would stop being rude. And, even when what others do does not affect you directly, you still want them to be more concerned about their health, or less anxious about life.
This is especially true of those in an intimate relationship. They may need to be held more, kissed more, complimented more, have the same sex drive, be given more attention, and have their spouse give more attention when in public. I can assure you that if the tables were reversed and they were given more than they expected, they would consider their partner more overbearing.
And that is just the beginning of expectations of others.
Consider Your Expectations of Others
Think for a few minutes about your expectations of those close to you, be they intimate, social, work-related, or family relations.
And, please do not use the age-old lie that you do not have any expectations of others. We all have expectations of every other person on this planet. You do expect someone to answer the phone when you call 911, or when you want to order a pizza, right.
And, then spend a few minutes thinking about your expectations of people you do not know; the persons driving on the same street as you, business owners, news reporters, politicians, world leaders, and yes, the person answering the phone when you order that pizza.
Unless you are a heretic1, you have expectations of others. You wish that they were more like you. You expect them to drive courteously and safely, have the same rituals, vote for the same individuals, the same religious beliefs, have the same stance on abortion.
There is a significant difference in expecting someone to do as you would have done and accepted their right to be different.
It is okay to hope that others will act differently, that politicians will vote pass laws that are written for everyone and not just to benefit their rich friends. That is just as true as wishing that you will act differently, e.g., be more honest, be able to stick to your diet or act with more empathy. It is also normal to try to influence others in skillful, ethical ways, and especially by acting as a mirror to others.
However, there are still norms that you do not want to step outside of in your relations with others. It becomes problematic when we move toward anger, badgering, bullying, fault-finding, resistance, righteousness, or any other kind of struggle.
Rather than entering into a struggle with others, we should recognize the difference and accept them just the way they are. You cannot create change in another person, as ultimately it is their own choice to accept the change that they need and want. Without their acceptance, they will continue down the path that they have chosen as their own.
Accepting others does not imply that you have to agree with their decisions, approve of them, or waive your rights. You can let people be who and what they wish without losing any of your rights. Whether you like it or not, if it makes you sad or even angry, you still have to face the reality that nothing you do can change the other person or the outcome of a situation.
However, at a deeper level, you can be at peace with their decisions. Sometimes a shift to acceptance can significantly improve matters.
Pick someone who is important to you. In your mind, say things like those in the following paragraph, and see how it makes you feel:
"I accept you completely. I realize that many causes, large and small, have led you to think, speak, and act the way you do. You are who you are. I let it be. You are a separate being, and I accept that fact in my life. You and I are part of a larger whole that is what it is, and I accept that larger whole."
If you like, be more specific, naming aspects of this person that particularly bother you, such as:
I accept that you . . .
- do not act in the same manner that I would
- belong to a different political party
- believe in a different religion
- don't always understand my needs
- disagree with what's important to me
- don't understand my lifestyle
You can always retain your right to disagree with others, make requests of them, or even stand up to others at times and still accept them and their rights.
Quite often some use non-acceptance as a manner of avoiding the feeling of fear that might arise if we become too open to others. Being open to accepting other does not lessen your senses as you retain your rights. You are just respecting the rights of others to believe and behave in the manner in which they are comfortable while allowing them to reciprocate.
In learning to be more accepting, you tend to let go of many of the negative thoughts that keeping you from living a more peaceful, serene, and tranquil experience. You become aware of your grievances, hurts, irritability, judgments, longings, narrowness, pushiness, remorse, and righteousness. By releasing yourself from these feelings, you can more fully experience calmness in your life.
When you experience the feeling that comes when another person accepts you complete just as you are, you will understand that acceptance is a beautiful gift. A gift that we give to our self, and to others when we accept them. It can be a wonderful experience in improving any relationship when the other person knows that you fully accept them just as they are.
Peace, Serenity, and Tranquility
Over the past several decades I have been on a spiritual journey of peace2, serenity3, and tranquility4 (PST). Each of these work together to allow me to grow a sense of connection, be relaxed, and establish a oneness, with all things. Experiencing peace, serenity, and tranquility is hard to do when we're struggling with other people!
When negative people attempt to infringe on my way of life, when people strive to take away my energy and bring into my space anything that seeks to destroy my sense of peace, serenity, and tranquility, I choose to ignore them.
Although similar, I usually use peace an undisturbed quietness, serenity to describe an untroubled state of mind (i.e., mental calmness), and tranquility to describe physical stillness.
In my goal to achieve peace, serenity, and tranquility I focus on several practices; being outward, being mindful, being present, expressing love, and seeking the good in all things.
I encourage everyone to find what makes them happiest in life and discard what makes them unhappy. To cast away as much negativity as possible to live a better life.
1. Heretic - a person that holds an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.
2. Peace - refers to freedom from disturbance, quietness, mental calmness and especially freedom from dispute or disagreement between individuals.
3. Serenity - implies a clear and calm inner state of a person. It comes from the Latin Serenus meaning "peaceful, calm, clear" or more of an "inner quiet" of a person.
4. Tranquility - refers more to the peaceful, quiet state of the environment surrounding an individual. It comes from the Latin tranquillitatem meaning "quietness, stillness,"