When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil.
— Marcus Aurelius
Last week I talked about accepting yourself for exactly who you are, including all the things you like and more importantly the things you don’t like about yourself. This week I want to talk about accepting others for exactly who they are.
Amor Fati is the acceptance and the embracing of your fate, or what life brings your way. We usually think of applying this to just the events and circumstances of life, but have you ever thought of applying this to other people? For me I think of Amor Fati as loving everything in your life, especially those things that you don’t have control over, and one thing we don’t have control of is other people.
I think we can see that most of the problems in our lives and throughout humanity have been one party tries to impose their will and ideas of how they think others should be. We see this in personal relationships and the world as a whole. This is really what the basis of all conflict is.
Why is it that we think we have the right to determine what it best for other people? I think the biggest problem we have with getting along with other people is that we forget that they are not here to do what we want them to. They are not here to look out for our best interest. They are just like us – looking out for their best interest.
What if we just accepted that everyone is looking out for themselves, just like we are? What if we realized that they are just as selfish as we are, and could let go of the idea that other people should act in the way that we want them to? I mean if you did that you would not feel resentful of others. You would never be surprised at anything they did. You would just accept the fact that they are not going to behave how you think they should.
And since we’re working on accepting ourselves for exactly who we are, we have to be honest about the fact that we’re looking out for our own best interests as well. I mean we may say things in such a way that it makes us look better and that we’re not being selfish, but if we’re really honest with ourselves, we’re just looking out for what we want and that’s okay. It’s part of self preservation. It’s just we need to be cognizant when our needs step on the needs of others and work on communicating and negotiating those things. But that is really hard because it means that we have to own up to being exactly who we are and honest about what we really want.
We want them to accept us for exactly who we are, so the better we can be at accepting them for who they are, then we both have the space and support to be ourselves.
When we accept others for who they are, it does not mean that we have to approve of everything they do. We don’t have to like everything they do. We just have to recognize that they are what they are, and to be aware of how our expectations of how we think they should be color how we see them. We make all kinds of judgments base on our expectations, and unless they have explicitly agreed to them, we need to be aware of how we are judging them.
It does not mean that they can ignore our boundaries and behave in ways that are not respectful. We need to clearly communicate with others when they do this, and let them know what is and is not acceptable. If they cross our boundaries that we have communicated then we need to be sure to respect ourselves, and let them know what our response will be.
It does mean that we are gracious with others. When they make mistakes, we give them some space to apologize and make amends. We don’t stop loving them when they annoy us. It means that we can still love them even if they are not perfect.
We also need to encourage others to respect their own boundaries. Often we have friends who don’t think they have the right to stand up for themselves, so being conscientious that we respect their boundaries is important. This helps them to feel like they deserve respect, and we have integrity for respecting their boundaries.
It’s kinda like Shrek and Donkey. They certainly annoy each other, but they still love and support and help each other, even if they’re frustrated with each other. They will never leave the other one hanging when they are in need.
Recognize that we cannot control others, so we let them be themselves. This is not always easy because we have expectations of how we want them to be. And this goes for everyone – family, romantic partners, friends, strangers – everyone.
I think what it really comes down to is that we all want to just be accepted for who we are and to find our place in this world, and the least, or maybe the best that we can do is offer the same to others.