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  • Writer's pictureJerry Brook

Relationship Structure Part 3 of 4 - Acceptance

Acceptances. You probably aren’t familiar with the way in which I’m using this word, so, I’ll need to explain myself.

Acceptances: we all have them.

In simple terms, it’s about what are you willing and able to give, as well as what are you willing, and able to receive in return?

That is to say, it’s about what you will accept in both ways – giving and getting.

How do you put a value on what you are giving and what you are receiving? Is what you are getting worth what you are giving? In business terms (and in business relationships), what is your ROI, or return on investment?

People often talk about acceptance, and they never think about what it is that they themselves are either willing or able to accept.

Many people don’t place a value on themselves, or on the contributions they make to their own relationships. Some people underestimate their value, and some overestimate their value. In either case, we need to know what we are willing and able to give and get, and the proper value of the two.

Imagine that you open a store and you haven’t taken inventory. Do you know what do you have to offer? Do you have any idea of what are you willing, and able, to give or provide? You don’t know what you’re selling, so how can you possibly know what it is worth in return? What will others be willing to give or do for you in exchange?

Before you can accept others, you must know that you, yourself, are acceptable. After all, if you don’t accept yourself, no one else can or will. And you’ll probably be charging a price that’s completely out of line for it.

Along with what is acceptable, there is also that which is not acceptable. There are many behaviors -- bad behaviors – that should never be accepted, or tolerated. Obvious among those are physical abuse and emotional abuse. In the case of addictions, acceptance can be enabling.

Add to the unacceptable list unscrupulous, or what might be termed “unethical” behavior: forceful, coercive, or maliciously intimidating behavior. In other words, behavior that is not consensual.

Don’t confuse not getting what you would accept with getting what is not acceptable

Others should not be expected to accept or tolerate your bad behavior any more than you should accept or tolerate, theirs.

As strange as it may seem, there are times when people simply won’t accept positive behaviors, things such as help, kindness or caring, even when it is offered to them without strings attached.

Acceptance can be seen as one-half of a bond or connection. Some people see this as vulnerability, and this can be the first glimpse of a potential problem in a relationship. If the party that you are in a relationship with won’t accept what you are willing and able to give, then they simply don’t want to be in the relationship with you.

Striking a balance

Acceptance is a balance between giving and getting. In other words, there must be parity. Equality. A relatively even split as to what it is that you are giving and getting in return.

If you want to receive more than you’re willing to give, you will be seen as taking advantage of the person or situation. That is, you will be outed as being only out for yourself. Selfish. However, if what you want to give is worth more than what you are receiving in return, you will be taken advantage of. You will be used, and quite possibly abused.

The act of giving and receiving in return is an exchange, a transaction, if you will. Like any transaction, there are always at least two sides. It is highly unlikely that both sides will get everything that they want out of all of these transactions throughout the entire relationship. This means that we need to always be aware of the other half of our relationship as well, as the other party, too, is not getting everything they need all of the time.

As a twist on a famous quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“You can get all that you accept, some of the time, and you can get some of what you accept, all of the time, but you can’t get all of what you accept, all of the time.”

Your Acceptances challenge

This week’s challenge is for you to consider what you have to give, what its value is, and what you are willing to accept in return (your acceptances). Is what you are willing and able to give reasonable? valuable? Is what you are willing and able to receive reasonable? valuable?

Let me know some of your acceptances, and we can delve into whether they truly are realistic, reasonable, and manageable.

Good Together: your guide to healthy, happy relationships

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