Robin Clark | Bay Area Coach & Photographer for Women » Coach & Photographer for Women

Radical Acceptance: When Someone Tells You Who They Are, Believe Them


It’s a classic story.

You want something out of an interaction with another.

A romantic relationship. A business relationship. A family relationship. A creative collaboration. A roommate or tenant relationship.

Said other person TELLS YOU, directly and/or indirectly, what they’re available for and this does not match the quality, depth, or specifics of the relationship you want.


You want what you want so badly, and you’re so afraid you won’t get it another way, if ever, that you move forward with the relationship EVEN THOUGH it’s got a big red flag sticking out of it warning you to at least pause and re-evaluate, if not cease and desist.

What happens next?

If your life has been anything like mine, you already know.

Everything is ok for awhile. But after the honeymoon phase wears off, a power struggle phase begins where said person continues to say and show you they’re not up for what you want. You feel scared and disappointed by this and try to persuade, seduce, manipulate, heal, enroll, convince, blame, or bully them to see it your way. The friction of energies that are not in agreement builds and drama, struggle, and emotional suffering take over. This drags on for however long you both tolerate it, until…

You go your separate ways and open yourself to connections that are a match for what you’re looking for.

OR, you both use the opportunity to investigate the deeper shadow pieces of your dynamic, wake up to and shift your patterns, and heal one another.

As you well know, option one happens 95+% of the time as option two only happens in powerfully aligned connections where both people are aware of the healing nature of relationships and are willing to engage in deep self-inquiry work.

So my question to you, if you find yourself in the position of wanting people in your life – lovers, bosses, roommates, friends, parents, kids, etc. – to be other than who they are and where they’re at, is this:

What if… 

You got completely OUT of the business of trying, in any way, to convince others to be anything other than who they are and where they’re at now? 

As a radical change in your approach, you UNCONDITIONALLY ACCEPTED others 100% as they are, right now? 

And not because you see they’re “doing the work” and “have potential.” And not because you think that if you “act nice” they’ll eventually come around to your way of seeing it and become who you want them to be. And not because you feel defeated and believe you have to suck it up so you can keep money, love, or support coming your way.

BUT BECAUSE you trust life to bring you what you need and want so deeply that you operate from a place of abundance, not lack, and you don’t need to manipulate others to get what you want because you trust that life will deliver without you having to struggle, compromise, or bang your head against the wall to have it. 

Radical thought, eh?

The first time I really got this one was with my parents. Like practically everyone, I fantasized that my parents would be the perfect expression of every positive human quality I wanted to be around and somehow, miraculously meet every one of my needs. I spent a lot of my teens and twenties feeling angry and disappointed that they weren’t everything I wanted them to be. I’d judge, blame, fight, try to teach, avoid, put up walls, and do all manner of manipulative behavior to try to MAKE them be who I wanted them to be. And all of that made absolutely no difference what so ever because they were still who they were.

After years of the power struggle, I tried another approach.

I decided to stop trying to mold them into different people and instead (duh!) enjoy them for who they are. I dropped my agenda. Appreciated them for their many wonderful qualities. Started to show up for the relationship we do have. And, unsurprisingly, we started to get along better. We talked more. We laughed more. We saw each other more.

As for the rest of the qualities I’d been trying to shove down their throats, I simply sought out connections with other people who do have those qualities so I could get the full-spectrum of my needs met without any one person needing to meet them all.

It’s a funny thing about imposing what we want on others – we end up not really seeing the person we’re projecting onto, let alone appreciating how wonderful they are. In these moments we’re living in our heads, caught up in the wounding of the scared little kid that lives inside all of us, and suffering because we’re not seeing ourselves or others with clarity or respect.

But it’s not THEM that needs to change. It’s US.

We’re the ones who need to drop our expectations and see and appreciate others for who they are right now. We’re the ones who need to hear what others are saying to us and make adjustments to show up for the relationship that is actually available, as opposed to projecting a fantasy relationship onto them that exists only in our minds and does nothing but bring suffering for all involved because it goes against what is.

Radical acceptance is freedom. It’s also the birth place of the real and meaningful connections we’re each seeking in all the parts of our lives. Try it out.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.” – Rumi

Tom ForNow -

I am a polyamorous male. I have repeatedly dated monogamous females. Never under false pretenses; I always share and discuss the relationship and where it can go beforehand. Always, there’s some point where they (and I) say they’re “okay with it.” And yet, despite knowing that in the long-term, poly and mono people almost never work together, I still *want to believe* that this amazing, awesome, exciting, fascinating woman can somehow be okay with the fact that I date others and will never “settle down” in the way she wants. I KNOW it’s wrong, I KNOW that that’s just the way she’s wired, and I’m wired differently. I even KNOW (intellectually) that there are many lovely, fascinating poly women out there who’d love to date me as I am, without them or me needing to try to change such a core part of our relationship/sexual dynamic. And yet, my wishful thinking leads me back into making this same mistake over and over again.

TL/DR: spot on. Great article.

Tim Munro -

Well said.

Joel Laing -

We all know what Aldous Huxley would say…. Bring on that Brave New World.

Brenda Giesman Padilla -

love this…so true.

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