Acceptance of Self, Acceptance of Your Partner

Acceptance of Self, Acceptance of Your Partner

Sometimes the traits we initially love about our partner can end up being the most difficult aspect to accept about him or her.  A very independent woman who is strong and attractive can be a force to contend with in an argument.  Conversely, a man who is spontaneous and easy-going can be frustrating to someone trying to convey something serious.  Since what is outside of ourselves is often a reflection of what is inside, we must first learn to accept ourselves before we truly can accept others in a real, deep, intimate and authentic way.   

Accepting ourselves is hard

Still, acceptance of ourselves sounds like an impossible and daunting task, especially with all those things we might not like about ourselves, not to mention the countless distractions on the outside that continue to steal our attention.  Most of the time it’s easier to look at the flaws of others and there becomes a separation in our mind.  In this mindset, we forget how similar we all are.  We all have flaws or traits that may be difficult for others.  Instead of focusing on another negative traits, ask yourself, what are yours?  What walls are you putting between you and your partner that negates the love in your heart?

Practice this exercise:

Imagine seeing yourself from the eyes of someone who knows and loves you, from someone who understands why you might feel as you do and can look past your preferences, ethnicity, beliefs, choices and behaviors to see the real you.  From this part of your brain, your third party observer, you can see yourself and your partner (as well as others in the world) from a different light.  

Ask yourself about the history of your partner, see how one’s experience is so tied to their beliefs, thoughts and actions.  We don’t practice this perspective to try to change someone else, we do this to increase our experience of compassion and empathy for all.  Now try this for yourself and have compassion from this more open perspective.   Think of your own history and bring awareness of your past and current choices.  View your experiences from a third party perspective and give yourself understanding, compassion and love.

If there is something about yourself that you choose to change, you can do so.  Yet, do so without judgment.  This brings us down.  You will never have the courage and strength to change anything without first looking at it in the eye and meeting it with respect, not judgment.  If both partners are practicing this with themselves and with each other, think of the love, understanding, compassion and peace that would ensue.

Now, let’s take this concept and broaden it to others in the world, perhaps difficult members of the family or others we don’t even know that differ in opinion or mindsets.

We need the courage to lean into the openness of the love that our hearts seek.  To be vulnerable is the ultimate strength and true courage.  It is our walls against our united oneness that truly weakens and separates us.  Take your wall down, look into the eyes of your partner and begin to see yourself.  Imagine what he/she is seeing and if you are not sure, just ask.

Dr. Lisa Templeton is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Denver/Boulder, Colorado. Lisa finished her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2003 with a focus on mindfulness cognitive-behavioral therapy, the underlying healing and interconnecting aspects of music, and therapeutic relationship issues including countertransference. She currently owns The Interpersonal Healing Clinic, teaching mindfulness and educating the community about various therapeutic issues, while also incorporating music and creative arts into her practice and own life. Her book, Letting It Be: Mindful lessons in acceptance, is in the process of publication.

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