Ep. 214: Radical Acceptance of Other People’s Sh*t

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It can be super frustrating when someone we care about keeps doing something that annoys us, or worse, creates a deeper suffering.

 

It could be from something as seemingly small as feeling annoyed that someone is always late, to feeling re-traumatized by someone who’s abused us in the past. We’re frustrated that it keeps happening.

 

When I’m coaching someone about this, they might say something like, “How could they have done this again?” (when the person usually does “the thing”), “They should have known” (when they’ve never anticipated needs in the past), or “I can’t believe they said that … AGAIN.” (when it’s something they’ve repeatedly said in the past).

 

The pattern here is that person has usually done “that thing” before. A lot. Predictably so. 

 

Yet we remain…repeatedly surprised when it happens. Why?

 

Today, I want to invite the exploration of why we expect people to change, and what we often make it mean about ourselves if they don’t.

 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed by now, but humans are notoriously unreliable. It’s not because we’re all assholes. It’s because we all suffer, and hurt people hurt people.

 

I think of times when my husband thinks he’s around a lot more than he really is, and also that I’m gone and away from our daughter a lot more than I actually am. He seems to forget that when I’m gone, I often bring our kid with me. So when we argue about it, he’ll say something like, “You’re gone just as much as me!”

 

That used to really piss me off. I would think to myself, “How the hell could you even think that? There’s not even any proof to support what you said!”

When I look back on the times that I would get really activated by these arguments, it was inevitably because of what I was making it mean about me.

 

I would feel like he’s challenging my version of reality, which was activating because growing up, my dad had schizoaffective disorder, and there was a lot of confusion as a kid. I often felt powerless and exasperated because we often struggled with coming to an agreement about what was actually going on versus what my dad believed was going on.

 

So I had to get to a place with my husband where I could think, “OK – this is what he does. He needs to have that kind of version of reality to function, and it won’t help me if I blow it up.” 

 

Now I’ve come to expect that he’ll say this, so that whenever he does say something like that, I can anticipate it, let it happen, and stay aligned. And then I can focus on what the actual issue is: that I’m feeling overwhelmed and I need help.

 

Another important truth here is that when we expect someone else to be different from who they are, we’re setting up ourselves – and them – for suffering, because the reality is, we have no control over other people. 

 

When we rely on others changing for our happiness, it usually leads to disappointment and suffering.

 

Sure, we can talk to them and make requests. We can say, “This is really painful for me. It would mean a lot to me if you did this.” But if they don’t, it doesn’t behoove us to hang out expecting them to change before we allow ourselves to move on.

 

But what if they continue to consistently disappoint us? We have options. 

 

One is to terminate the relationship or spend less time with them. Easier said than done, but an option nonetheless.

 

We could also create clear boundaries around the issue. Like if someone is always late, you could say, “I’m not going to get mad because you’re consistently late. I’m choosing to hang with you. So if you’re characteristically late, I’ll wait 10 minutes, then leave if you aren’t here.”

 

The third option is radical unconditional love and compassion for their sh*t. We can choose to see that this is how that person is and (gasp!) accept them. 

 

We can say, “This is who you are. I don’t like that part, but I’m choosing to continue the relationship and be in the relationship, AND I am not going to demand change or be pissed that you will continue to be who you are.”

 

This week, if you find yourself feeling frustrated by someone’s words or actions, I encourage you to ask yourself, “How can I be happier by releasing my need for them to change?” You may find that this opens you up to love and compassion – for yourself and them.

 

You will learn:

// Why our loved ones often end up doing something that hurts us over and over (hint: it’s not because they’re being cruel)

// Why we often get so upset and activated when dealing with the unreliability of others

// How to deal with the disappointment of others that doesn’t create more suffering – for us or them

 

Resources:

// Episode 16: How to Improve Any Relationship

 

// Episode 74: How to Set Healthy Boundaries

 

// I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a review on the Rebel Buddhist Podcast on iTunes by clicking here   

 

// If you’re not already there, Come join us at Freedom School. Together, we can learn to self-coach about how we can make this mean less about “who I am” and more about how this person might be hurting, that they’re continuing to hurt. So come join us. Go to joinfreedomschool.com 


// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics.