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Home Lifestyle Life Assertiveness versus tolerance. Why should we change others?

Assertiveness versus tolerance. Why should we change others?

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Have we gone too far in addressing others about undesirable behaviour? Many people today are engaged in their spiritual development and that is a good thing. This often means that people take a look at the behavioral patterns that are less pleasant for others and do their best to change. I say ‘do their best’, because the practice is unruly. We also don’t like to criticize our children, just to name a few.
We usually manage not to do that, but we just have to be stressed, worried or just hangry , have a deadline that is just a bit too tight or we just don’t feel well for a while and there we go again.

While we are doing so well to pimp our own behavior, we also seem to become a bit more critical of the behavior of others. I once stood in line at the cash register when I heard a child’s voice behind me: “Daddy, I didn’t like the way you were acting to me just now. I want to talk about that for a moment.’ Who would he get that from? I once ordered a drink in a cafe and was treated by the lady behind the bar rather … shortly after a confusion of tongues.

While I looked somewhat bewildered, apparently rather surprised, her colleague said to me: “Oh well, that’s just the way she is”. Two completely different ways of dealing with the same situation: someone says something you don’t like.Yet there is something to be said for both.Assertiveness vs. tolerance

I find the first rather in line with the individualism of our time. We want everything a la carte, tailor-made, according to your wishes, custom made† And that apparently also applies to the behavior of others to an increasing extent. We don’t pick up behavior from colleagues, friends, anyone, so easily anymore. We no longer think: “Oh well, that’s just the way it is”.

We think: ‘I don’t want this, I want it to end and now!’ A new spiritual trend is the serving of all relationships “that no longer serve you.” Anyone who takes your time, is annoying, or who you don’t have heavenly in-depth conversations with every time you meet, is apparently not worth your precious time. Does this say something about our spiritual level, or especially about the economy in which we live? Our time has become scarce and we apparently project that onto our circle of friends.

In doing so, we assume rather easily that the person in question should ‘get to work with his issues’ and then drop him because he is apparently too lazy for that. I personally find that a rather easy and somewhat arrogant assumption.

How far did it have to come to you before you started to face your issues? And were you able to solve them in the blink of an eye? If you managed to do it, come and tell me how you did it. It’s pretty easy to say that someone didn’t deserve our love because of their issues (that’s, after all, the bottom line). While we can often justify to ourselves very well why we deserve love ourselves despite all our issues.

To be honest, there was something incredibly liberating for me about that ‘oh well, that’s just the way she is’ at that bar. By simply accepting someone as he is, you don’t have to deal with it anymore. Isn’t that the ultimate detachment? Because let’s face it, maybe we want someone to treat us a certain way, especially since we can’t quite let go if they don’t? Recently it happened again, this time with a colleague.

My colleague sat deeply over with a deep frown in his eyebrows in a large concentration bubble at his desk. I asked if I could use something. His answer was an absent ‘hmmm…’. And that irritated me. I thought, ‘Damn, can’t you just say ‘yes’ † How hard is that?’and at the same time I thought: ‘why should he behave my way?’ He is just kind of absorbed in his concentration and then a little less receptive to his environment. And just accepting that gave me so much calm that I honestly wonder more and more if acceptance isn’t much more in your best interest than assertiveness.

If I’m going to break off all friendships that matter, it will be very quiet I’m afraid. Those people also have their less nice sides, but they have been in my life for at least 20 years. For a reason. Do I suddenly have to fall for very human imperfections? There isn’t a cow so fur that doesn’t have a spot on it. Perhaps it is very spiritual to just accept that.

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