Awareness, Acceptance, and Appreciation of the Match
By Lynn Seiser
Many people come into counseling because they donít understand what is happening in their lives. They apply for a job and donít get it. They like someone who does not like them back. They try to make themselves like someone they arenít. Interestingly, they try to get themselves to like, accept, and appreciate themselves, but they donít.
Acceptance and appreciation is all any of us really want. So why is it so hard to receive and give?
There is a simple answer to this question. The simplest answer is usually correct. The simplest answers are that things match or they do not. Match what?
Each of us carries inside our minds a map or idea of what we want. Our families and society develop this map. Many times, we donít even know that because we identify and imitate others. We pick up some of their belief systems and preferences. Letís say we grew up in a family that was very loving and demonstrated affection openly. Inside your mind and heart, you may prefer a relationship that matches those requirements. Good for you.
However, letís say you were not raised in that family, but in one that was more critical and people did not demonstrate their affection openly. These early experiences created the model or map you carry inside your mind. Some people feel uncomfortable with too much positive and prefer relationships that match this model or map. Okay sometimes a simple learned preference becomes a major problem.
Preferences are just preferences when we accept and appreciate them as being in everyoneís best interest. If you choose someone who naturally matches your positive preferences, then you are probably happy and content. If you choose someone who does not naturally match your preferences, then you will have a lot of work making them become who you think they should be. Likewise, if you have incorporated a negative map or model of relationships and choose accordingly, you will get exactly what that model produced. If, by mistake, you have a negative model, and you choose someone more positive, you have the problem of either convincing him or her that your way is the correct and only way, or changing your own model. I tend to support exchanging the positive for the negatives.
Another preference or problem in relationships comes from matching or mismatching input and output channels. Letís say your internal preference is to hear ďI love you.Ē A natural match would be someone who verbalizes it. If you choose someone who values seeing a demonstration over hearing the words, you may feel unloved because their output channels donít match your input.
In couples counseling, I usually encourage people to open both their input and output channels. That way they can express their acceptance and appreciation of each other in ways that are naturally received. They can also receive acceptance and appreciation in ways that are naturally expressed. That is a win/win solution. My personal preference.
If someone thinks you are right, good, likeable, acceptable, or loveable, it means you match their personal preference in those areas. If they think you are wrong, bad, unacceptable, or they cannot love you, it just means it is not a match for their personal preferences. Itís okay; you do the same to them. We all do. Letís not take it all too seriously or personally. Letís look for the natural positive matches, accept those that do not, and choose wisely.
Thanks for listening, the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.
Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally-respected psychotherapist and author with offices in Long Beach and Tustin.
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