Whether it’s a significant other, friend, family member or even colleagues at work, relationships can be complicated! We’ve all been in a place where we wish the people we care about the most would listen to what we’re saying or that they would just do what we wanted them to. Inevitably, that often leads us to think we can change people. I’ll let you in on one of life’s biggest secrets: you can never, ever change a person. Period. You can wish with all your might, you can even plant seeds if you think that will work, but ultimately, a person is only ready to make a change when they’re ready for it. When the timing is right for their personal journey. If you can’t change them, what can you do for them? Great question! You can show them unconditionally love and accept them while in a relationship with them.
I have learned that there’s no one way to show acceptance, and everyone likes to receive support in different ways. There are days where it’s hard and sometimes it requires adjustments. However, in the end, there’s a secret sauce that works for each individual. Here are three ways that I’ve found help me in showing that I care about those around me and truly accepting them for who they are.
What’s their love language?
If you haven’t heard of the 5 love languages, I highly recommend checking them out! I only learned of the love languages a few years ago. Since then they have been so helpful in navigating my closest relationships.
We most often show how much we care about someone the same way that we like to be shown how others care for us. But, in most cases, we don’t realize the way we like to be appreciated isn’t necessarily the way that everyone else likes to be appreciated. My love languages are words of affirmation, quality time and physical touch. I’m not big on gifts or acts of service, but throughout my life I’ve met many people who thought buying me gifts or showering me with a party or cooking a meal were the ways to show me affection. But what I truly enjoy is a hug or some informal one-on-one time like watching TV at home together. Sometimes it’s as easy as telling me that you appreciate me.
Over the years, I’ve started to become more mindful of how my friends and loved ones react to different love languages to figure out which one resonates with them most. Everyone is different, so I try to remember what works for each person versus trying to make them adjust to how I like to show someone I care about them. When we pay attention to someone’s love language, we’re truly accepting and loving them for who they are.
Do you like them as they are today?
One of the most important things I learned early on was that I should never look at someone’s potential in how I evaluate spending time with them or maintaining some sort of relationship with them. Because chances are, they will not change or evolve into that perfect self-actualized person that we think would be great. Life truly doesn’t work that way, and we’d never want anyone to think that about us because we’re not perfect either. But, if we like them in this very moment in their most imperfectly perfect form, then we know we can accept them for who they are as they continue to grow and evolve on their personal journey.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “But so and so has the potential to do this. I wish they would see it for themselves and just get their act together.” The truth is, we have to ask ourselves if what people are showing us today is something we’re okay with because we can’t expect them to change or conform to what we think is best according to our rules.
Do they motivate you to be your best self?
One of the most important things we can do is to be around people that are supportive and motivate us to grow and continually strive to be the best versions of ourselves. These are the most challenging yet rewarding relationships that we engage in because they often mirror the parts of ourselves that we burry or struggle to fully accept. When we have issues or reservations about fully allowing others to be their true authentic selves, there’s a part of us that we don’t really appreciate about ourselves. If they mirror this for us, we have an opportunity to work together and share even more love and compassion for one another. We can only truly accept and love someone unconditionally when we love and fully accept ourselves for who we are.
As I continue to grow on my personal journey, these are some of the ways I am learning to show others that I accept them as they are. What are some of the ways that you show appreciation for others?