Allowing People to be Themselves

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What happens when someone you love acts in a way that is disappointing, frustrating or (in your opinion) wrong? How to respond... This is something I have been struggling with lately. One way to respond is to judge his or her actions and make them wrong. This goes something like, "I can't believe you did that! How could you have been so (mean, thoughtless, self-centered)? This technique may feel good in the moment, allowing me to feel right or better than or maybe even righteous. Inevitably, though, this way never seems to help and in fact usually makes the problem worse.

Another way is to avoid seeing the person with whom you have a conflict. Stop calling or visiting. It can help diffuse feelings, and gives me some space to process, forgive or whatever it is that needs to unfold for healing to take place. But this isn't a lasting solution. It is a temporary hiatus unless I never want to see that person again. 

So there must be another way. That is the road of acceptance and forgiveness, a road not always easy to travel. If I decide I'm willing to try, then what might it look like? Well, first it involves letting go of my need to feel better than or right. Even when I'm upset, I have to allow for the possibility that greater things are at play than I can see. How do I really know God's plan? How do I really know what anyone needs for their own learning to take place? I can't. And so this step requires my humility and surrender in allowing life to unfold regardless of what I "think" is right or wrong.

Ultimately I have no control over how other people behave and so I have to trust that just as I am, they are exactly where they need to be learning the lessons they need to learn. Then I also have to stop judging others and their process. Instead, I have to open my heart and accept them, accept every part- the ones I love and the ones I don't like so much, recognizing we all are human, flawed and growing. When I can get to this place, that tightness in my chest eases up and I can breathe more easily and feel more relaxed and joyful knowing that all is well and as Bob Marley said, "every little thing is gonna be alright."