When you have a difficult person in your life, you often feel anxious when you think about spending time with them. You go into a fight or flight state before you’re even in the room with them. 
Today we’ll talk about acceptance and how that is the very key to having peace around difficult people and situations and how it does not mean being indifferent.


Subscribe: iTunes



Click Here for a full transcript of the show.

, and welcome to the made for greatness podcast on your host Sterling Jake with, and today on episode 53, we’re talking about the difference between acceptance and indifference. And we talk a lot about acceptance on this podcast and in all of the work that we do, because it really is an important tool for moving forward. See, when we’re not in acceptance, we are in resistance. So when you’re looking at a situation in your life, maybe something challenging at work or in your marriage with your kids and you think it shouldn’t be like that. You are in resistance to reality. And when we are in resistance, you can almost feel it in your body. Your body starts to clench up a little bit, and you’re not necessarily clenching your fists and ready to go into battle level of resistance. Sometimes we are, but we feel tension.

And for some of us, we are in so much resistance that we feel fear that we go into a fight or flight state. And we talk about this a lot being in a fight or flight state, because when you’re in that state, your ability to problem solve and think clearly or access, the wisdom of God is a lot harder. It’s just harder to do it. And so when you’re feeling tension in your body, shortness of breath, maybe, you know, upset feelings in your face, whether it’s anger or frustration, just notice, huh? What am I resisting right now? What do I not have acceptance over? And this came up in the holiday workshop. Then we were doing where we were talking about difficult family members in situations that were hard. And two in particular came up and come up pretty often. And one is when we have a narcissist in our life and narcissist personality is a diagnosable thing.

Most people aren’t diagnosed that, but it’s a very extreme personality type. So it’s not just someone who likes to talk about themselves a lot. When you’re dealing with a true narcissist, it can feel very confusing and manipulative, and they try to put you down a lot. They try to make you think that you’re wrong and that everything that they do is right. And it is very extreme. And you know, because when you think about spending time with that person, you clench up and you feel scared because even just being around that person and having a conversation with them can feel extremely dangerous. Even if you’re not really sure why, but when somebody smiles at you in lies, whether it’s intentional or not, or whether it’s a mental health issue, it feels very alarming. And so, as I was talking to somebody who had a family member like this, but she chose to go to her family’s house and this person was going to be there. She was in a certain amount of resistance over, you know, should I talk to this person? Should they be in the same room with them? What should I allow them to say? And we can dive into that and we can problem solve specific situations. But the first thing is always just acceptance, just acceptance that this is how that person is.

They have got a story and a childhood and they’re struggling with something. And just accepting that this person is a narcissist. And as soon as we just kind of accept that, let’s just call this person, Bob, let me just think, yeah, Bob has been through some stuff and he’s a narcissist. He does not know how to speak kindly and gently to me, or it’s difficult for him to do it. It’s probably not even that. He means to be like that. You may not even have awareness of it, but genuinely, I actually find that people like that to have awareness of it. And they really don’t like themselves. They leave in a prison in their own minds of hating themselves. That’s very sad when I see somebody struggling with something like that and I can drop into acceptance. Notice what always shows up compassion. When we stop resisting the reality of a situation, you begin to see it with compassion. Now let’s choose alcoholism because that is slightly different. Some of you may say, well, maybe the narcissist has a mental health issue and needs to get professional help. I, you could probably say that about alcoholism, alcoholism too, but let’s assume you’re talking about a different guy. We’ll call him Jeff. And we say, look, it’s just choice to have five drinks at Christmas and act like a jerk.

And of course that last part is an opinion. But when we spend time with people who drink a lot, it makes us feel very unsafe and very uncomfortable. And when they are close to us, sometimes we all also feel embarrassed. We feel ashamed when you think we should be able to fix the situation. But when you spend time in resistance, leading up to seeing someone, knowing how they’re going to be at a holiday event, it steals all of your joy steals, your joy and your ability to connect with the people around you. Because again, when you are scared and you’re in a fight or flight response, you are not forming deep connections with people, your immediate family, your extended family, and even yourself, once you’re in that fight or flight state, you really stopped taking care of yourself. You’re not asking yourself, Hey, what do I need to set myself up for success today? Maybe I should leave the kids’ clothes out early. Maybe I should make a checklist of everything we need to put in the car before we drive away for six hours.

When you are in resistance and you are scared about encountering an alcoholic, you will not be a good problem solver. When you have acceptance over this person and their disease and the situation that you’re about to walk into, you will have more compassion for that person and for yourself. And you will set yourself up for success by being a problem solver. And here’s what that looks like when we just say, yeah, Jeff is in a lot of pain. Men who drink again, probably really don’t like themselves. They’re probably unhappy at their jobs. Maybe they feel like their wives don’t respect them. Maybe they think they’re bad. Dads. Maybe they think they’re just like their dad.

They’re in a lot of pain and they’re numbing themselves out with alcohol because it’s fast. And it feels delightful. Being anxious and insecure and full of shame and having a warm toasty drink that makes you tingly in your body and makes you smile and laugh is really fun. And then you chase that feeling. And then at some point you’ve had more drinks than you ought to have. And then it stops being fun and you pay a different price, but I completely understand why people drink. And if we have more acceptance over this guy, Jeff, and his pain, we can view him more compassion that’s love.

And then you can decide, do you want to talk to Jeff? Do you want to have any boundaries with Jeff? Pretty much. Your only boundary is to leave the house. You would leave the room. You could just say, Hey, you know, Jeff, you’ve had too much to drink. I don’t want to talk to you right now. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. You leave the space. If it’s your own husband, you could say, Hey, I love you. Just, you know, you have three or four drinks. We’re going to pack up the kids and we’re going to go, no matter what time it is.

And if you don’t choose to go, I’m going to take the kids, right? That’s a pretty strong boundary condition that is enforceable, but we don’t want to ever set any boundaries. We’re not willing to enforce, but notice that when we just, when we drop into love for Jeff and we just kind of assume that he’s going to drink during the holidays, it allows you to create a plan for yourself. It allows you to think about how can you set yourself up for success? How can you communicate yourself? You know, before things have gotten squirrely, and then how can you take care of yourself if they do?

And this is going to just drop you into more of a sense of feeling safe. And your holiday season won’t feel as scary. You will be in control because you had a plan. Now, can we ever predict everything? No, we can’t plan against everything. But if you’re feeling anxious about the holidays, it’s probably cause similar situations have happened for the last many years and they’re somewhat predictable. And if you can just be an acceptance over them, then you can plan for them. But now I want to talk about the difference between acceptance and indifference. Because I think one of the reasons that we fight accepting something that we perceive to be an injustice or something wrong is we think we’re, co-signing it. And we’re saying it’s okay. Or we have to allow it to be that way.

So let’s just dig in with the alcoholism thing. Some of you are worried that if you were an acceptance over that, that you are condoning it and you are saying, this is okay, but here’s the thing. You do not have any control or say over another adult. So it’s a false sense of control or power. Maybe that you do anything about it. You’re going to have boundaries against you, but you can’t make anyone be ready to change. And here’s how I know, because if I told you right now, you need to stop eating sugar for the next 90 days. It’s bad for you. It’s toxic. I don’t care how hard your life is or how much pain you’re in zero sugar.

You just may not be ready to do that. You may not want to do that. You may not have the coping skills to do that yet. You may not have the support system. And so when we look at other people with their vices and their struggles, it’s important to just know we can’t ever make someone be ready to change. That’s what acceptances; acceptance is just saying, I love you where you’re at in your journey right now. It is not saying I love alcohol for you, or I love the way you’re living right now. Or I love the choices that you’re making, but acceptance, which leads to compassion just says, yeah, I just see you and where you’re at right now.

 And I guarantee that when you pick your head up and you look at your family members, your immediate family members, your extended family members, and you see all these things, you wish they weren’t doing that. Aren’t good for them. You could turn right around and do the same thing with yourself and don’t do it with shame or judgment or a stick or mean words. Look back at your struggles and know that I feel the exact same way about you. I see you. And I see the pain that you’re in and I see the less than ideal things you’re doing to cope with that pain right now. And let me tell you, you are doing a better job than you were 10 years ago. You were stronger. You are wiser. You have had more wisdom from the Lord.

 So you might be looking forward, wishing you know, that you lost 20 pounds or saved more money or yelled at your kids less or were more charitable towards your husband. But acceptance is just loving yourself where you’re at right now and knowing how far you’ve come and acknowledging the pain that you’re in. And that this is just how you’re dealing with it right now. And that is true for all of these other people in your life. They are just trying to make it through and acceptance and love. And gratitude does not mean indifference. It does not mean you think alcoholism is okay. It does not mean that you think a narcissist can run their mouth off and hurt other people’s feelings.

 And so I find that actually almost the opposite thing happens when I drop into acceptance, because when I’m in resistance and I’m fighting the situation, then I tend to make things worse by being naggy and pointing fingers or, you know, sometimes I think I’m so subtle about the advice that I’m giving. And I know I’m just not, I’m about as subtle as an elephant. And whether it’s something I’m trying to say to a friend of my husband, you know, sometimes I fumble it when I’m in resistance over what’s happening and I think it’s wrong and we’ve got to change it.

 But when I drop into acceptance, I, it’s not that I am indifferent. What ends up happening is I see the situation more clearly and I put more love into the situation. And that often creates some sort of change. Can you imagine what the person who is going to the holidays and knows that they’re the loud mouth or the narcissist or the sarcastic one or the alcoholic, and nobody really likes them. How do you think they feel when they get in the car to go? But when you treat them with love and charity, because you just accept them for who they are, that is going to bowl them over. They may not mention it, but they will feel it. They will feel the difference of someone who just looks at them as a human being and a soul and a child of God.

 And that’s the opposite of indifference. It probably is the salary that they need. And you are not responsible for helping someone stop drinking or figure out all of their problems, but you can plant a seed and you can be a south, even for a moment by just loving them where they’re at and showing them that we can disagree about things and still treat each other with love. And of course, we picture Jesus eating with prostitutes and tax collectors. And this is the ultimate example of this. And the Pharisees were shocked and we’re like, how could he do that? And what they were saying is how could he be indifferent to their bad decisions? They’re immoral choices.

 And his actions showed he was not indifferent to that. He never condoned their sin, but he knew that what they needed was acceptance for who they were love for, where they were at being seen in their pain. And then that would lead to change. And then they would see him in his truth and it would lead them to change. Now it is always our choice to change and we all have freewill and not everyone who ate with Jesus probably became a Christian, just crazy to think about, but we all get to choose. It is not your responsibility to change someone. We can not make them do anything, but you can show up with acceptance and love. And I just want to say it again, because I think this is so important. You can accept someone and it doesn’t mean you are indifferent to their choices or what they are doing. You are not, co-signing what they are doing.

 Okay. You’re going to deal with a lot of people in the next couple months. And of course, this is coming out at the beginning of November, but the truth is we deal with people all year long, but particularly in the holidays, we feel thrown together with people that we may not want to see. And we feel like we have to go like, maybe you have to go for your mom, but you don’t want to see your uncle or your aunt or your cousin. I want you to know that you don’t have to do anything. You get to choose where you go. You can choose to stay home. You can choose to leave the party early. You can choose to not speak to someone. You can do that with kindness, by the way, you could just navigate around the room and never really be standing next to that person. You could smile at them. And if they start talking to you, you could give them one sentence and go, oh, I need to go check something in the other room.

 You don’t have to do anything. You get to choose exactly how you show up this year. And you get to treat people with acceptance, which will lead you to compassion and problem-solving and taking care of yourself. And if you want to learn more about that, you can go to Made for greatness.co. And we have a button now that says workshops, and you can sign up for the, be Mary workshop. We already did it, but you’ll just instantly get the replay. And you can watch me coach a lot of people around a lot of things. And then of course, we’d love for you to join us in masters. We’re going to be doing this together over the next two months, supporting each other and all of this stuff. And it’s a safe place where you can come and say things like I don’t really like my mom.

 And we surround you with love and say, oh, that’s a really difficult feeling. Let’s talk about why and how can we create a plan to set you up for feeling safe when you choose to go see your mom? Anyway, this is how we going to be. Christ’s hands in the world. We are going to be the ones who show up with love and acceptance. And it does not mean that we are indifferent to people’s immoral choices, but it means we see them in their pain and we will take care of ourselves while we are taking care of them.

 And that is how we have a peaceful holiday season, even in uncomfortable situations. I’m just praying for you. I’m praying for your family. And I’m praying for all of those who feel unloved and unwanted and who feel trapped, carrying out the same patterns, the same toxic behaviors. And they see themselves doing it and they don’t want to do it. And they hate themselves for it. And then they have to go stand in a room with people who look at them with pity or shame. Those people, my friends, are so alone. Let’s just pray for them, lift them up to the Lord and ask him to bring some love and light and kindness into their lives.

 And I pray that you get all of the help that you need, all the tools that you mean to be Christ in every room that you were in for the next two months. I love you. Thank you for listening to the made for greatness podcast. Thanks for supporting us. Thank you to all of you who have left reviews on iTunes podcasts. It’s just amazing. It makes such a big difference for us. And it’s just one of the best ways that you can say thank you for the work that we do. And so I’m just full of gratitude for all of you who have chosen to do that. All right, mama, I want you to lift your head up. Remember that God loves you and remember that you are made for greatness.