Practicing Acceptance in Relationships

The recent holiday time has been very special for me: getting to see children and grandchildren whom I haven't seen in two years! I recall reading a touching newspaper article several years ago, regarding American troops overseas. As they were being confronted with life-and-death issues daily, their priorities came into sharper focus: highest on the list were faith, family and friends.

Seems as though this comes down basically to relationships: relationships with one another and with the All-That-Is (however this is meaningful to us).

I came from a quite dysfunctional childhood family. As I look back, there were times that were very difficult for me, and it was here that I learned unconsciously to suppress my feelings. This wasn't anybody's "fault": it just is where we all were in our growth at that time. As I'm learning to honor all my feelings, even the "difficult" ones of anger and sadness, I become more comfortable with being present in this moment (" the moment at hand is the only thing we really own..." John Denver). I am more able to accept me - and my family! as we are now. There's a little less tendency for me to push my views onto those around me (which I used to dislike in my parents!)

I appreciate the story of the three blind men who were experiencing an elephant for the first time. One says "Aha! he is like a rope!" as he held onto the elephant's tail. The second says "Oh no! he is like a wall," as he feels the side of the enormous creature. "You're both wrong," says the third man, as he explores the elephant's trunk. "He is like a pole."

I think it's wonderful that we each have our own versions of reality. When caught up in thinking our view is the ONLY version, in a tunnel-vision fashion, we are apt to experience conflict.

There is a lovely phrase in a Sufi prayer: "...raise us above the distinctions and differences which divide {people}...."Yes, it takes a higher perspective, stereoscopic vision, to realize that each of us has a valid point of view.

And I appreciate this teaching from Deepak Chopra:
"Know that those you react to strongly, whether you love them or hate them, are reflections of yourself. Use the mirror of relationship to guide your own spiritual evolution."

How I used to struggle with my mixed feelings toward my parents! Now as I've become older and more accepting of different parts of myself, I feel more empathy toward my parents (and am even able to experience compassion for myself!)

L'haim! To Life! Thanks to the All-That-Is!

Written by Elizabeth Zook Coleman, MD


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