There’s a fine line between acceptance and being a doormat.
You have to train your mind not to judge, to accept others as they are, but also to create and respect boundaries so you don’t enable them to make bad choices or let them treat you in a way that’s below how you deserve to be treated.
I wanted to get this up yesterday, but I was still processing some thoughts. As it stands, this may still end up sounding like more of a rant, but the point I’m trying to make is that you can still be a good, loving person who wishes everyone the best without keeping them so close they disrupt your life.
Make room for a significant other, close family members, and friends who support you and want to lift you up.
When you surround yourself with people like that instead of devoting so much time and energy to people who just want to tear you down to keep you in the dark with them so they’re not alone (and so they can use you), the world benefits so much more.
Acceptance Without Attachment
Acceptance is a beautiful, peaceful place. It’s not exempt from the occasional bump in the road as you process the things others bring into your life or the things you’re forced to consider and think about.
Even when you aren’t judging in a negative way, you may be seeking to understand or classify a behavior or event. That’s totally fine. That’s human. That’s how we learn and grow.
But what happens when acceptance turns you into a doormat? What happens when every person you “accept as they are” has an open invitation to your life, maybe even a pretty significant place in your life, even when they treat you poorly?
It takes an open heart to see the good in everyone. It takes an open mind to process the bad in everyone and consider how it affects other people around them. Since none of us are 100% good or 100% bad, the heart and mind have to work together to determine whether you’re good for each other.
You’re working with concrete evidence (actions), what they say, what others say about them (take that with a grain of salt), and your own intuition or the vibes you get from someone.
You may never know another person completely; in most cases, I don’t even believe we know ourselves completely. Work with what you’re given and keep your eyes open. Step back from time to time to look at your relationship as an outsider looking in so you can maintain the heart-mind balance.
Loving from a Distance
Is it admirable to focus on the good and a person’s potential? Of course. At what point, though, do you put on the brakes before you enter a relationship or close friendship with them because you know about the bad and how much it lets them influence their behavior?
- When do you end a relationship that already exists?
- At what point do you say you respect their choices to behave in a certain way or do certain things, but you just can’t be a part of it?
- Where does their need to feel that someone cares about them in the hope that one day they’ll be better stop being more important than your need for the same thing? Or your safety? Or your mental well-being and calm?
Are They Working on It?
This is something I used to struggle with a lot when I was dating, working in sales, and meeting new people all the time, but I had forgotten about it until something similar came up in conversation a few days ago. If you’re dating someone or best friends with someone whose character is questionable–and they’re fine with being that way, not working on it, not questioning why they are the way they are and working on becoming better–when do you (sadly, most likely) re-bury that tiny nugget of gold you found in them and move on to find the box of treasure that may have a little residual dirt on it?
Gold vs. Dirt
No one’s all good or all bad, but in everyone, one or the other is outweighing its opposite. There’s more dirt or more gold. You may feel special or lucky for finding a tiny nugget of gold in all that soil at first, but it won’t do you much good in the long run. It shouldn’t be enough to make you settle down next to the hole and start planning your future based on your find. You need to dig around more. Find out if there are enough additional nuggets right there or if you should leave it for someone else and search for something better in a new area.
All that said, dirt or gold doesn’t define a person’s worth as much as it signifies a need for growth. They’re still worthy of love, obviously, but they may not be suited for a relationship with you (friendship counts) right now. They may have things to work on that make them incompatible for a close relationship with you right now. Could they come back later? Sure.
Wish Them Well, Call It Quits
If someone is tearing you down by cheating on you, gossiping about you, offering backhanded compliments, turning your friends against you, isolating you, toying with your emotions by running hot and then cold and back again, lying to you, stealing from you, trying to shake your confidence, looking for ways to wound or hurt you in any way (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually), do not let them (and their dirt-caked shoes and heart!) walk into your “house”–your life, your mind, your heart–and wreak their havoc. Throw them out. Enlist friends or family members to be the mental cops you can call to have that person removed from the premises (aka: your brain and/or heart).
Call those friends when you’re thinking about opening the door to the hurtful one again, when you need extra strength. Don’t let that person contaminate your soul and make you bitter, exhausted, overwhelmed, or depressed anymore. One day, they may be better. Great! That’s what we all hope for the ones we love, and even the ones we don’t know well enough to love or the ones we don’t particularly like.
Don’t Wait Around for Long
We want them to become better each day, regardless of their starting point. But you don’t have to wait around; they can be better for someone else. All the time and energy you waste on someone who wants to tear you down in return is time and energy you miss out on spending with someone ready for you, praying for you, right now, who will build you up and love you and help you change the world in your own beautiful way.
Observe, Love, but Don’t Invite Them In
You can accept the way someone is at any point. You can acknowledge that they possess amazing qualities that (you hope) will grow over time to overshadow and overcome the not-so-desirable ones. You can be at ease with the way someone is and where they are in life and the way they think, their habits and how they go after their goals (or don’t have any). You can even wish they were different, but remember that it’s not your business nor is it your place to change or “fix” them. Not everyone is on the same path as you, and that is okay.
Accepting Someone Doesn’t Mean Rolling Out the Red Carpet and Welcome Mat
Not everyone you come in contact with–not even everyone who wants to–has to become a big part of your life. Accept them as they are and then let the only judgment you make be whether to roll out the welcome mat or wish them the best in life. Consider how much dirt is there compared to how much gold before you put the mat out.
Will they leave muddy footprints all over your heart, mind, and spirit with no remorse? Will they make a mess but sincerely apologize? Will there be a little dirt unintentionally left on the mat and inside the door, left behind by someone who will treat you with respect and love? Acceptance isn’t the same thing as a welcome mat. Set feelings aside and think clearly about this person’s presence.
Love everyone. Be kind to everyone you come in contact with. Set a good example for anyone watching. But don’t let other people’s habits and choices drag you down on a regular basis. Don’t be a martyr. There’s no need to do that to yourself. Love from afar if you have to. Be a phone call away in a true emergency (a true one!) for the ones you love but can’t stay close to. Don’t roll out the red carpet or be a doormat for someone who won’t respect you.