“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
The frontman of The Doors was spot on with his description of true acceptance. Real love amounts to letting a person express himself, without pressure of judgement.
That said, how do we accept others who are simply not the same as we are? How do we drift to the shade of another tree and acknowledge that it cools as well as the first?
This level of acceptance, for many reasons, is difficult to reach. Society shapes people in the mold of conformity, making little room for differences. This “tribal’ mentality makes us partial to those who think and behave as we do.
Fear deters people from embracing differences. They feel threatened by others who are not the same as they are.
Then, there is intolerance of change. It is difficult to shift from routines or mindsets that are comfortable. Again, people fear that change is harmful.
Moving to a different change to cool off takes a little effort, but taking these steps can make it easier.
When trying to accept someone who is simply not the same as we are, have some awareness of your thoughts. Consciously put in the effort not to judge others. Steer your thoughts in a more accepting direction.
Leave the black and white dichotomies behind. Things are often in a grey shade, without being cut or dried.
Focus on the present. A person could have made poor decisions in the past, but it does not make him less than he is. Everyone has positive qualities, and we should try focusing on them.
Try reversing the situation. Think about how you would react if you are in the shoes of the person you are trying to accept. Though you may not want to admit it, you may behave in the same way.
A new shade may not look so different, once you move to it.