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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Acceptance can be a two edged sword!

We all want to be accepted by our friends, family, and peers.  Acceptance is a big deal to us.  It's a driving force in almost every phase of our lives.  We are introduced to it very early in our lives.  Usually, around the pre-teen years peer pressure kicks in and that's our first taste of our need for acceptance.  Then on through High School and even in our job and our families we have a need to fit in.  We want to be accepted.  And with the occasional introduction to alcohol and drugs a vast majority of this pressure to be accepted is seen a a good thing.  Truth be told conforming to society's norms are the best ways to be accepted.  And if you throw out the few bad things in High School, acceptance is on the surface a win-win for people and society. It makes people feel good about themselves and it keeps society in line.

Unfortunately, there is a negative side to acceptance.  That's when we start accepting people's bad behavior as normal.  Or we start making excuses for someone who is not doing what they are supposed to be doing in life.  When someone is abusive to their family and you tell others, "well that's just the way he is" you are accepting his behavior.  Or if someone is on drugs and you say, "he's always had a little problem area" you are creating a platform to accept that behavior as normal.  You might think I'm being harsh.  Actually, quite the opposite.  I'm all for compassion and second chances, but when you accept the bad behavior as normal then you set the table for really crazy things to happen.  You find yourself in the middle of a three ring circus and think to yourself, "normal people don't have their best friends beat up by their husbands, how can this be?".  Then you remember you are working on the platform of, "well he's always been abusive".  Or in the other example, your adult daughter has just lost her third job this week and you just can't see how this is normal.  Then your realize you've accepted long ago, "she's always had a little drug problem".  When you accept negative behavior you accept all the consequences that go with it.

Abusive relationship.
Of course the "acceptance" I'm referring to is the acceptance of not saying anything when something needs to be said.  For all our advances in society we seem to have a gaping hole when it comes to telling love ones when their behavior is sending them off the edge of a dangerous cliff.  Why can't we tell people we care about that their behavior is doing them and others harm?  Some would say this is the price of love.  I say it's the price of selfishness.  Fear of being without that person leads you to lie to them and yourself and accept their bad behavior.  Do your loved one a big favor, stop being selfish and tell them about themselves!  You just might save their life.  After all, life is more precious than acceptance.