(This is Part 4 in the Now You Can series. Read Part 3 here.)
Ever find yourself in a situation where you’re the odd man or woman out in a discussion about lifestyles or any conventional behavior which seems to have gone mainstream? Maybe you’ve gotten cornered, and others expected you to nod and smile and embrace the conventional position. And the situation is exacerbated internally because you have an issue with the prevailing accepted norm, and you don’t want to make waves. How can you convey your true feelings and perspective while still “getting along”?
External and Internal Pressure
I’ve been there. Sometimes I’ve been caught flat-footed with a “Here’s my partner/husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/crystal/shaman/whatever” and I’m not quite sure what to say. I think they want me to nod or give a good, hearty “uh-huh!” I’ve been there, and I’ll be there again. There’s a fair amount of external pressure in North America to go along with a shifting conventionality—and there’s also a fair amount of internal pressure within me to go the easy route and not be true to myself. But now I know what to do.
Approval or Acceptance
The answer comes down to understanding the nuances between two simple words: Approval and Acceptance. Approval means that I’m all in. I couldn’t agree more with what you said or conveyed or represent. We’re all one. There’s nothing to see here. Acceptance is different. It means that I can be in the room, be civil, grand human dignity, and hold my own dignity. I can accept what is being presented to me, in the sense that I’m acknowledging what is there, but I don’t need to Approve of it.
I Won’t Be Disloyal to Myself
I think I’m ready. The next time opportunity presents itself, and someone implies that I should be as enthusiastic about their thing as they are, I plan to say, “We probably don’t see things the same way. I don’t approve of ____________, but I do accept it.” And I might even say that I hope they will accept the fact that I don’t approve it. If not, I’ll still be good, because I won’t be disloyal to myself. They might want to take the conversation into extra innings, but it’s up to me if I want to go there.
Coming next time: Now You Can Repeat Yourself Without Sounding Like a Nutcase