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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jon

Love, Acceptance & Approval

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Acceptance and approval are often mistaken as the same thing, but they are two very different concepts. The English word, “acceptance” means,

Recognizing the reality of a situation or condition.

It's derived from a Latin word meaning, to find rest in. When we accept someone, we acknowledge the good and bad realities of who they are. We find rest in the knowledge of who we've come to understand they are.

The English word “approval” means,

To consider something or someone to be good or satisfactory.

We must accept the “badness” in individuals we claim to love and care for. We must accept as reality the failures and shortcomings of those we love. But to approve of someone when he or she is participating in maladaptive or self-destructive behaviors creates confusion.

What's right and what's wrong?

We all need acceptance. This is how we genuinely connect with others, but we may not always approve of what others do. We demonstrate acceptance in two ways:

  1. We demonstrate our acceptance of those we love and care about by connecting to every aspect of them - the immature, the disappointing, the shameful - all of it.

  2. Then we set limits on the negative behavior of others - their selfishness, lying, arrogance, etc. - in an effort to help them release the unrealistic demands they place on themselves and those around them.

The continual acceptance and approval process helps us establish sound judgment, make good decisions, and accurately identify our own strengths and weaknesses. We need others to help us develop the belief that we are special even when we aren’t behaving special.

Through meaningful acceptance we are able to get off the merry-go-round of guilt and perfectionistic ideals and are free to effectively deal with the realities about the world and ourselves.

Engaging in a healthy and continuous acceptance/approval cycle with others teaches us to see ourselves from a more mature and realistic perspective. We see our own limitations, and these limits do not frighten us into trying to present a fake self to those we meet. When we accept ourselves we accept both our strengths and struggles. We do not fear sharing these aspects of ourselves with others because they hold no power over us - we are not arrogant because of our strengths and we do not see ourselves as worthless because of our struggles.

This is what it means to be a well-integrated person.

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