Is seeking acceptance crippling your personal and work relationships?

If you are searching for a partner who will ‘accept me as I am’ you are admitting that you do not accept yourself and you need someone else to confirm you are ok.

A great relationship has nothing to do with who you are or the other person thinking you’re great. It’s about how well you are, fits with who they are. So long as the two of you fit well enough (only you can say what is enough) you have the basis of a great relationship.

We all understand that no-one can fit perfectly with anyone else.   There will always be aspects of our personality that simply are of no value to anyone else; irrelevant behaviours while at work, the gym, engaging in hobbies etc. There will even be some differences that are more than neutral, they are outright annoying to the other. Belching comes to the top of my list, closely followed by Dad jokes.

You sustain great relationships when the value of the parts that do fit is more than the annoyance of the parts that don’t. A separate issue is whether you can choose to be respectful of the other, and reduce their exposure to the parts of you they struggle with. Only if you have a strong sense of self-worth do you have the choice to adapt your behaviours to strengthen the relationship further.

Let’s consider this with a really simple example.

If you are confident about your looks then you may use makeup in a large variety of ways, wearing lots on some days then none on others. People’s opinions about how much make-up you wear, the style and colours, whether it suits you, and whether you ‘need’ it, are all irrelevant to your self-confidence. That leaves you in a place to choose if you will consider the preferences of others when putting on your make-up for the day.

For most women, this is not a very simple example because looks are a very important part of confidence and identity. Let’s simplify it as promised. What if you are in a relationship with someone who is petrified of make-up (they have a clown phobia) or even allergic to it? If you are confident in your looks and value, then you will prioritise the relationship and no longer wear make-up for their safety and comfort.

But let’s make this example complex again and remove the health-threatening reaction. Then it’s less obvious where the tipping point for good relationships versus identity is. If you are not confident about your looks, you don’t have this choice without endangering yourself. Instead, you insist they ‘accept me as I am’ or if your confidence is very low you leave the relationship to ensure it does not endanger you. Behaviours you cannot live without, even while in the company of just one person, are saying more about you than the relationship.

Relationships, identity and choices are but reserved for personal relationships, life partners, family and friends. In my work as a business coach, I see the exact same balancing act occurring in relationships at work. The quality of every relationship is a combination of the value they offer you versus how much they threaten your identity. Understanding yourself allows you to better manage these reactions and make more productive choices about who you work with and how.

Is there a situation at work, a style of person, a job function that is triggering you and wasting your energy? Is it time to stop ‘divorcing’ great jobs or staff and learn to understand where these emotional responses are coming from and give yourself more choices? Then it’s time to find a business coach.