Even seasoned REBT clinicians are fallible. Yesterday I was in a taxi doing my best to avoid the slush from our blizzard of 2010. The driver turned up a street and suddenly we were stuck behind a garbage truck for a good 20 minutes. I made myself angrier as each minute passed and then I thought about the blog I wrote on Monday and the one I was going to write today. Dare I admit this? I was not exercising Unconditional Life-Acceptance (ULA) or Unconditional Other-Acceptance (UOA). I was demanding that there not be such a ridiculous amount of snow and subsequent garbage pile-up, and I was demanding that the taxi driver know what streets to avoid so I could get to work hassle-free. Wouldn’t the world be grand if all that we demand actually happened?
Unconditional Other-Acceptance- a concept we would all benefit from embracing. Much like ULA, UOA involves preferring others to behave in a particular manner or be a certain way, but not demanding it. It also involves believing in your gut (not just knowing it intellectually) that it’s not the end of the world and you can tolerate it when others do not act how you want them to. And finally, others are not worthless or failures when they act differently than you want them to. I often hear people say, “I can’t accept that person because by doing so I am saying it is okay how he/she is acting.” This is a misinterpretation of the term UOA. By accepting someone as a fallible human being you are not globally damning them. You may (and preferably should) disagree with their bad behavior. You may (and preferably should) decide you do not want to be around that person. What we could all work on is accepting that people are going to act how they want to and we can disagree with them, choose not to be around them, but they have the option to act how they want to with possible consequences.
In 2011 I propose we resolve to break free from damning others. It’s an emotional waste of time. It saps us of energy that could be used for productive means and usually doesn’t result in changing others.
Next up: Part III of The Single Most Important New Year’s Resolution by Kristene A. Doyle, Ph.D.