Unconditional Acceptance is a phrase that probably makes you squirm. Vomit-inducing nonsense from the worst excesses of wishful thinking. Be kind. That person who was just really rude probably had a really tough day. Well, Buster, guess what? So did I.
I am not talking about this sort of thinking. What I am talking about is the key to set you free from even feeling the simmering rage you have towards Mr/s Rude in the first place. And counter intuitive as it sounds, unconditional acceptance is the foundation for the most liberating kind of self protection.
If you've been working on freeing yourself from emotional eating, then you are probably going to bump up against the opportunity to explore unconditional acceptance. Let me say right now that
(a) this is a gift, and
(b) it's wrapped up in just about the fugliest wrapping paper you've ever seen. It's your choice whether you throw this present away, or are curious enough to take a look under the wrapping paper. Spoiler alert: you'll be glad you did.
To explain this liberation, we need to get really specific about what unconditional acceptance is - and what it is not.
Let's start with...
What Unconditional Acceptance Is Not
UA is not kowtowing to everyone else's needs at the expense of your own.
UA is not saying yes when you should really say no.
UA is not censoring your right to speak up when you see injustice.
Unconditional acceptance is not the same a unconditionally accepting other people's crappy behaviour toward you.
What Unconditional Acceptance Actually Is
It is agreeing to deal with people as they are, instead of focusing on who you wish they were.
It means accepting that the unfair behaviour you are so furious about was preceded by one or more warning signs that you ignored. How many times have you seen a friend get disappointed by their crappy partner, and thought "what did they think was going to happen? It was obvious that this was in the offing".
It is about listening to reality instead of your own wishful thinking.
You see, unconditional acceptance is is about your relationship with reality.
It is an unconditional acceptance of reality - not everyone else.
Your boss or difficult client makes an unreasonable request of you, meaning that if you complied, you would miss an important social event. The overtime that nobody else is available for. The amendments for the project that have to be finished by Monday morning.
Unconditional acceptance says: even though I am well pissed off that this person seems to think I can be available for every little thing they want me to do, I am not going to focus my energy on that, because it is a denial of reality. Reality is what it is. Instead, I am focusing my energy on what my response is. On saying no. On letting them know that I am not a pushover. They are free to ask me this unreasonable request, and I am free to say no.
Now it may not be that simple. Life rarely is. Circumstances may make this a difficult no. Maybe even an impossible no.
But I have seen over and over clients saying yes to requests that were unreasonable, but they were more free to say no than they told themselves. They could have said no with no major consequences...it was just that the disapproval or emotional manipulation that would have ensued was unpleasant. I said yes because my MIL is just so difficult. Or has been having a really hard time recently.
Understand that there are many, many people who have developed passive aggressive - or just plain aggressive - patterns of behaviour precisely because they see how much power their sob story or resting bitch face etc wields.
Now I Know Where To Put Them
I once heard a great story of putting UA into practice. The situation was that someone was continually late for meals out. Instead of getting annoyed, the response was changed to Now I know where to put them mentally. In this case, in the stop inviting them for lunch category.
Where do you put the person who badgers you continually with demands and questions that are unreasonable ? In the do not reply/minimal or veeeery late reply category. Or in the call them out category.
Where Emotional Eating Comes In
Imagine your journey from emotional, compulsive eating as a journey across a rope bridge. At times it feels as nerve wracking as in this video!
There is no point working on eating presence if all it does is leave you miserable, because even though you are managing your life directly minus food, life is still a struggle.
It will always be a struggle if you try to tap into victim thinking, which relies on other people rescuing you and relies on other people to change - and when has anybody ever changed, because we wanted them to?
Unconditional acceptance of reality is the logical next step in putting food out of a job. You have already started to feel your feelings directly and manage difficult people yourself, instead of kowtow to to their needs and eat your anger.
Managing your life directly is hard at first, not least because you may find that without your junk food anaesthetic, your intolerance of unreasonable behaviour has just shot up sky high.
It's hard to live like that, seething at treatment you used to accept - you are now seething because you have no aneasthetic.
Unconditional acceptance helps you navigate this new and unfamiliar world of dealing with people who are used to taking advantage of you. Of people who use victimhood tactically. Of gold medal winners at the passive aggressive Olympics.
They are not the problem. Your refusal to accept that their behaviour is what it is - that is the problem. Asking "Why are they so horrible? Why me?" is a luxury you can no longer afford. That is victim thinking.
Instead, shift to adventurer's mindset response of "I accept that it is what it is. And I in turn am free to protect myself, advocate for myself and say no."