December 2015 By Suma Varughese Instead of being put off by the plethora of emotional and psychological needs that drive behavior, Suma Varughese is perceiving the wisdom of catering to those needs Some of the most transforming moments of my life have occurred when I erred, and instead of being reprimanded or put down, I was met by full-hearted acceptance and forgiveness. My mother, particularly, has offered me this gift on several occasions, and each time my heart opened and huge waves of love and gratitude gushed out. Even more than that, each time this happened, I made a quantum leap in self-acceptance. Truly, the kindest thing in the world we can do is to accept people as they are. And yet it is so hard! The judging mind resists, constricts, and is alienated each time someone says or does something that runs counter to our expectations. Most of the time, it is our own lack of self-acceptance that compels us to condemn others. We cannot accept in others what we cannot accept in ourselves, and secondly, if our self-image is low, we strive to feel good about ourselves by putting down others. Fundamentally, if we cannot feel comfortable in our own skin, we cannot feel comfortable with the way others are. Sadly, therefore, despite being an ardent votary of acceptance, I have been unable to practice it in my own life. However, of late, my inner work has been showing good results, and I have found it far easier to offer acceptance to the other. Most of us are embroiled in emotional and psychological needs that cause us to appear excessively dependent, or haughty and uppity. Earlier, my back would be put up the moment I was subject to any such behaviour. Today, I find myself far more spacious and willing to accommodate their needs. One of my friends, for instance, had a fairly compelling need to be acknowledged and appreciated. Earlier, the more he asked for appreciation, the more I withheld it. Today, I recognize that if he asks for it, it is because he needs it, and I give it to him willingly. The result is quite dramatic. Where earlier there were many subtexts of resistance and resentment on both sides, we are now really on good terms with each other, and there is no subtext at all, because needs are being met. Another friend gets into a tizzy each time she has to deliver on a project and needs a lot of handholding. Earlier, I would judge her for it. Today, I find myself readily accepting this trait of hers, and instead seeking to support her rather than put her down. Thoughts which had earlier never entered my head, such as that I could make her food during these fraught phases so she feels less pressurised, now dawn on me, and presumably I will implement them too. And the great thing is that my friend is responding to my tacit acceptance by becoming more easy with herself too. Hitherto, I have been extremely intolerant of intolerance. Anyone suspected of fundamentalism earned my wrath and embargo. Now I am entertaining the possibility that if I allow the other to be instead of resisting, then maybe they would be more willing to listen to my side of the story. These days, instead of reacting sharply against any slight or perceived offence, I like to think of what could have provoked them to act thus, and to be receptive to their point of view. I feel that I am finally paying off the debt I owed to the great souls who loved me enough to accept me unconditionally. About the author Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at email@example.com
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