Present Tense

You can’t always get what you want…..

Acceptance.  What is it?  Why are we so obssessed with it?  “I just wish people would accept me for who I am”.  We’ve all whimpered that one, haven’t we?  Usually when we’re about 14 and someone made fun of us or snubbed us, which happens a lot in middle school.

It would be great if we outgrew our obsession with “acceptance” like we outgrew our size 5 jeans, but being human and all, we don’t.  We still crave it and in some cases unreasonably demand it.  Really all that we can hope for is an uneasy truce over the years with those we feel are ‘unaccepting’.

Last week my counselor had me make a list of things that I am powerless over.  Try it if you’d like and I suspect you’ll come to the same conclusion that I did.  You can’t control other people.  Period.  Demanding love, acceptance, understanding, cooperation, etc. from other people is a recipe for misery and victimhood.  It’s just not possible for any of us.

So, back to acceptance.  It’s a fact of life that we just can’t please everyone and doesn’t it seem as if those are the people we focus on?  There are a few people in my life who are accepting and encouraging in most every way.  However, if I screw up, which I inevitably do via bad choices, they let me know.  I love them dearly and tend to take them for granted because they let me, be me.

Then there are the folks in my circle who have expectations that I have determined are beyond my ability to fulfill.  I have spent way too much time agonizing and questioning myself, thanks to their lofty goals for my behavior and contributions to their lives.  I’m finally at a point where I can say that I’ve met and exceeded many of their expectations and if they must keep raising the bar, then that’s their issue, not mine.

They may never accept me wholly and that’s okay.  It’s probably better that I accept myself or keep working on it.

June 13, 2010 - Posted by | Musings | , , , ,


  1. Jane:
    Self acceptance is a journey with an elusive destination. Just when you think you have arrived – you haven’t. Self awareness is often the more attainable goal and it involves the intentional act of letting others have their own opinions/expectations without any feelings of obligation to meet them. Abe Lincoln said “Whatever you are – be a good one.” If its good enough for Abe …….

    Comment by Amy | June 13, 2010 | Reply

    • I can’t argue with Abe! I was just having a similar conversation with someone last week. None of us are perfect, and a lot of us aren’t anywhere close to who or what we want to be, so Abe’s words are good advice:)

      Comment by janelondon | June 13, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi, Jane,
    Your post reminded me of my own many years in therapy and all the “homework” required of me. As a young person, I craved attention – the good, the bad and the ugly – whether it was negative or positive. Fortunately, I grew out of that phase but I think our innate need to feel special and be loved remains with all of us throughout our lives. I love your characterization of reaching an “uneasy truce” with those whom we feel do not accept who we are. For me, I’ve tried to surround myself with nurturing people and avoid those who are so negative that they can’t even share in anyone else’s happiness. But, it’s not always that easy. I agree with your conclusion that it really shouldn’t be your problem but rather the issue of the people around you. We often project so many of our own inadequacies, needs and insecurities on others and, frequently, we’re not even aware of it. Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” was required listening in my therapy. It hasn’t always been easy internalizing, but in the end, “learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.” And, because I love song lyrics so much, a line from Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” comes to mind: “ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

    Comment by Leona Salazar | June 16, 2010 | Reply

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