Acceptance is approval, a word with a bad name in some psychologies. Yet it is perfectly normal to seek approval in childhood and throughout life. We require approval from those we respect. The kinship it creates lifts us to their level, a process referred to in self-psychology as transmuting internalization. Approval is a necessary component of self-esteem. It becomes a problem only when we give up our true self to find it. Then approval-seeking works against us.
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In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, nonintrusively, the way we are present with things in nature.We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only an appreciation that becomes participation: 'I love looking at this birch' becomes 'I am this birch' and then 'I and this birch are opening to a mystery that transcends and holds us both.
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The more invested I am in my own ideas about reality, the more those experiences will feel like victimizations rather than the ups and downs of relating. Actually, I believe that the less I conceptualize things that way, the more likely it is that people will want to stay by me, because they will not feel burdened, consciously or unconsciously, by my projections, judgments, entitlements, or unrealistic expectations.
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Trust in someone means that we no longer have to protect ourselves. We believe we will not be hurt or harmed by the other, at least not deliberately. We trust his or her good intentions, though we know we might be hurt by the way circumstances play out between us. We might say that hurt happens; it's a given of life. Harm is inflicted; it's a choice some people make.
In the hero stories, the call to go on a journey takes the form of a loss, an error, a wound, an unexplainable longing, or a sense of a mission. When any of these happens to us, we are being summoned to make a transition. It will always mean leaving something behind, ... The paradox here is that loss is a path to gain.
Just as our fingerprints are one-of-a-kind, so is our identity. Each of us is a once-only articulation of what humans can be. We are rare, unmatched, mysterious. This is why the quality of openness is so crucial to our self-discovery. We cannot know ourselves by who we think we are, who others take us to be, or what our driver's license may say. We are fields of potential, some now actualized, most not yet.
Fate often allows a future to take shape with no regard for our expectation, plan, or readiness. Fate's skillful editing of our life choices is like the careful grooming of lads on their first day of school: combed, polished, scrubbed, newly dressed, and glowing too. This is how we become ready for our life lessons.
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Early fear was felt cellularly and was indeed real. Defensive postures were necessary, but defenses generalize cellularly in adulthood and do not expire. It takes conscious work to undo them. Ironically, as long as we keep using defenses, we actually maintain the original force of the fear.
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At every stage of life, our inner self requires the nurturance of loving people attuned to our feelings and responsive to our needs who can foster our inner resources of personal power, lovability, and serenity. Those who love us understand us and are available to us with an attention, appreciation, acceptance, and affection we can feel. They make room for us to be who we are.
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We all recall the cruel stepmother in fairy tales. That archetype is often a necessary element in a fairy tale so that the heroine/hero can become a person of character and power. Stories of heroes and heroines often begin with a wound or loss or injustice and end with heroic acts of restoration.
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Mindfulness is an ancient meditation mode in which we let go of our fears, our attachments to control and being right, our expectations and entitlements, and our judgments of others. Instead of these popular strategies, we learn to simply stay present opening in the moment - with nothing in the way - so we can experience life as it occurs.
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The most exciting part of finding out who we are is discovering our own uniqueness, who we are outside the box, beyond the categories in a Psychology 101 textbook. In our inimitable singularity, there is an infinite range of possibility that cannot be tied to any one description of what it means to be human or healthy.
Our higher needs include making full use of our gifts, finding and fulfilling our calling, being loved and cherished just for ourselves, and being in relationships that honor all of these. Such needs are fulfilled in an atmosphere of the five A's by which love is shown: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing.
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