"All of me, why not take all of me?"
Sing it, Frankie Baby! He didn't say to take 45% of me. It's a simple lesson around acceptance and appreciation for all the parts of a person.
I want you to imagine that you have just been introduced to someone new at a party. Let's call her Jane. You and Jane are hitting it off like a house on fire. You have so much in common, you really like her style and you just feel like you connect in a way that's pretty rare. You resonate with her ideals, and the things that matter to you matter to her as well. You can envision how Jane will fit into your life and feel really good about having just met this person.
Then, you tell a joke or make a funny comment and Jane starts to laugh, and all your hopes are dashed because the sound of her laugh is like nails on a chalkboard to you. You have some choices here. You can:
- Tell her that you really don't like her laugh but reassure her she has a lot of other qualities that are awesome so not to feel badly about her laugh. But, if she could just not laugh, especially in public, she is a friend you'd like to have.
- Walk away from her while making the decision to not continue the friendship.
- Get over yourself and realize there is probably something about you that is driving her crazy.
The right option has probably already presented itself to you. If it hasn't, let's flip the scene to see things in a new way.
I remember a dinner date I was having with a guy friend of mine and the subject around what we were looking for in a mate came up over nachos and margaritas. We both had our top 3 must-haves - no settling aloud! The coolest and most enlightening thing about our lists weren't what our care-abouts were but that we had both recognized that if we wanted to have a partner that fit the bill we designed, that we needed to posses these qualities ourselves. For instance, if "Being wise with money" was at the top of the list of things we were looking for in a mate, we both understood that we couldn't have a mountain of debt while gambling our rent money away because a money-wise person wouldn't be interested in dating us. If "Being honest" was at the top of our list, we couldn't be lying about our age or exaggerate our salaries. We needed to be the people we wanted to attract. Over the years, this friend has become not only my best friend but my husband as well - we were married just three years later with both lists fully realized. He loves me even though my hiccups sound like a loud dying rooster and laughs at me when they hit full blast in a grocery store.
Having taken a new look at things, let's go back to our three choices with the loud party-laugher. The option is clearly number 3 if cultivating good friendships is important. Option 1 is clearly not ok because we are asking them to check a part of themselves at the door.
But, when we say "all of me" how much do we really mean?
All means all - 100%. That means accepting people regardless of their financial decisions, choices around hair styles, religion, politics, movies and music. It includes accepting them for how they talk, how they walk, how they dance and their choice in friends and medical decisions.
One of the big obstacles for all of us, whether we're students, doctors, psychics, working mothers or athletes is we all want to be appreciated and accepted, but, often times, we're not all willing to appreciate and accept others as they are. It goes something like, "Don't judge me for my stance on global warming because your religion isn't even a real religion." Or, "I know you think my work is flaky and weird, but, I can't believe you're ok with breastfeeding your baby in public." Or, "Don't criticize me because my Little Johnny isn't going to college because you're on your third marriage!" Ouch - on all three! These zingers may not happen out in the open but versions of this conversation sure do happen behind closed doors and in chat rooms. Some of you might have even felt a slight twinge just reading these three examples. Powerful stuff to be able to evoke an emotion so quickly, huh? We know it hurts so let's stop doing it. Recognizing how much we do this is the first step to making improvements - without improvements, this merry-go-round of criticism will go on and on with no one getting or giving their deserved acceptance.
Does this mean we need to invite folks that don't jive with our core belief system into our inner circle of friends? Not at all, nor will we all be invited to be in everyone else's inner circle, but we all deserve the respect of not having to hear anyone's negative thoughts either directly, through the grapevine or through the very powerful ether. Accepting doesn't mean bullying, trying to convert, shaming or putting all these conditions in place (can you please not use that annoying laugh in public). It's simply letting everything be as it is.
It starts with us.
Imagine that every criticism or insult is a boomerang covered in horse manure. You sling it because you have to let the Twitter world know that not only was that Grammy performance horrible, the dress was atrocious. Or, you sling that boomerang because those moronic republican/democrat A**holes just passed the stupidest bill that will end the world as we know it. That boomerang is sailing through the atmosphere with little chunks of do-do flying off it. And, where is it headed? Right back to you and the countdown to being covered in horse crap is ticking. But most don't correlate the action and the reaction because the dots don't always connect in a way where we make obvious correlations.
We can all agree that being criticized is no fun for anyone. We've all dished out a healthy dose or two, or a thousand but we really don't like to hear criticism of ourselves or our loved ones. But, the shiny side of the coin is being on the receiving end of criticism is usually a good first sobering step in changing our own bad habits. If we don't like the way it feels, we're more likely to change our ways and to be less critical of others and being aware of the boomerang will hopefully help us to watch our words.
As Gandhi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world. As my husband and I agreed, we must be the qualities we want to attract in a mate. If any of us want to avoid criticism for the exciting work that we are doing or the choices we are making in our journey called Life, then we have to not criticize others, ever... not even a controversial dress on the red carpet. Criticism is criticism, and you either practice it or you don't. On the flip side, acceptance begets acceptance! Maybe we start with baby steps and start off with a simple shift that goes something like moving from, "what a horrible, ugly dress!" to "her dress wouldn't be the one I'd choose but good for her for choosing something so bold." Then we can move into bigger shifts that go something like moving from, "can you believe our neighbor is an alcoholic? what a looser" to "I hope our neighbor finds his way out of his troubles soon." What we'll likely find is not only an improvement in our perception and how we see the world, but an improvement in our own conditions as well - but, it has to start with us!
If I want you to accept all of me then I have to take the first step and accept all of you.
Mr. Sinatra started a great conversation, but I think The Beatles took it the extra mile... All you need is Love!
Dawn Marie. © Copyright, 2015, The Zen Room.