Allowing Your Loved Ones Their Full Experience, Part 4
And so, after all that, we’ve come to the final point – what contributes to unconditional acceptance? In my experience, this means allowing them their full experience with respect and dignity.
Most of us are uncomfortable with strong displays of emotions in others. Perhaps we have not dealt with our own feelings; perhaps we just don’t want the drama. We ask a few polite questions, and let it be – but it is not enough. Allow them to fully explore the depths of who they are; only then can healing occur.
Not Denying Them their Experience
I remember when someone I was close to betrayed me financially. I spent the entire day hurt and angry, and I wasn’t feeling any better when I had lunch with a lawyer friend the next day. I wanted some legal advice on the matter, but he noticed something was wrong and asked me about the non-business side of the story.
I told him a really short version, not wanting to show how hurt I really was. He nodded, and said I must really be angry. I nodded in return, and told him to forget it – let’s move on to the legal matters. But a part of me wanted to speak, and he must have sensed it.
“It must really sting, being betrayed by someone you’ve been friends with for so long.” I nodded again, and took a deep sigh. He remained silent and expectant. I remained stiff for a few moments more, before I relaxed into the space he had given me, and let my guard drop. My shoulders slumped, and I allowed myself the full hurt and anger – not the condensed, sanitised version – but my raw, unreined feelings.
I told him the full story, pouring out everything I had held back even from myself, and he listened silently. When I was done, we remained quiet for a few moments more, and I noticed how much the hurt had diminished. We turned our attention to my legal options.
The Same Principle in Self-Work
I would like to point out the parallel between this and self-work. There are many beautiful concepts and techniques we can apply – forgiveness, putting yourself in the shoes of another, challenging the thoughts that cause our suffering – but they must all come at the right time. Otherwise, these concepts become just another means of pushing, of cutting, of repressing.
Boundaries, Safety And Respect
And to finish off the series – a great question a reader raised. How would we give unconditional acceptance to someone who misuses it, takes advantage of it?
This is a really complex topic, but briefly – giving unconditional acceptance requires inner strength, inner peace and stability. How can we give what we don’t have? I believe in setting fair, healthy boundaries, until you don’t need them anymore, until you are strong enough to really give.
Further, some people confuse a victim mentality with giving unconditional love. I would highly recommend the series on boundaries as a vital counterpart to this series.
Further Reading: Setting Personal Boundaries (series).
A Quick Explanation
Some readers might find this article a little strange. It’s really short, but still took a long time to write. I feel I owe you a quick explanation. I wrote this series as preparation for a few other series. However, two things affected these articles.
Firstly, most of my studies now revolves around abuse – emotional, physical, and verbal – and I have been meeting with quite a few survivors. It has affected me and my writing quite deeply. You’ll notice I’ve been putting in lots of warning statements lately. Secondly, a lot of these processes are meant to be used with a qualified professional, otherwise there are a few things that can go wrong.
The details of this are too much to go into here, but that’s basically it. So far I’ve cut out the controversial material – many articles worth of it, sadly. I can’t present a toned down version because the processes become nearly useless. After days of thinking, I’m still trying to figure out what to do. While this is mostly for my upcoming series, a huge part of this article was also cut out at the last minute. So apologies for this, I hope you understand.
And at the risk of turning this into an “admin” post, I would like to ask for some feedback.
This series is the first where I’ve done my best to keep the article at a 1000 words or so each (previously I let them go to 2000 words or more). The upside is that I find the new style easier to read, and hopefully it keeps your attention better. The downside is that if you read the entire series in a row, there is some repetition. This was based on the feedback from a previous post. Surprisingly, it is a bit of a challenge to try and convey all the information in shorter posts.
I would love to hear any suggestions on both these issues!