I was talking with an accountability buddy of mine about times where felt I was playing too much defense socially about different interests and values I had and how I resolved those situations. She eventually said, “You should write about this”. So…I’m writing about this 😉
Most people experience acceptance on some level, but it can feel so normal they don’t even know how much acceptance they’re already experiencing.
All the current and potential attributes of your character can truly be accepted, encouraged and celebrated by the right people. Put these different attributes of your character “out there” and you’ll be more likely to be found by those right people.
The first time I noticed not feeling accepted was being very young and fat. In fact, this might be the highest level of exclusion I’ve ever experienced to this day. Society treats you different if you’re fat – especially a fat kid. Thinking about all the unnecessary ordeals (teasing, bullying, horrific PE classes, parents who don’t have a clue on how to solve it, not to mention all the craziness that comes from eating the food that caused the overweight) kids have to go through, through no fault of their own is the only thing that instantly can bring me to tears.
The acceptance level went through the roof when I joined a 12-step program for food addiction as an adult, but this was decades later. People there had similar stories and most people had overcome similar issues. One thing I’d love to see is young kids feeling the level of acceptance I do now for being fat and to know that there is a real, practical solution to having a right-sized body for them.
Think about the country you’re from. If you were born and raised in that country you might not even be aware of the acceptance you’re experiencing by living in that country. I didn’t realize this culture/location – based acceptance until I went to another country where I didn’t know the language. It took this exclusion for me to be reminded of how included I actually was in the United States.
Going against the herd
“Whenever you find that you’re on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause & reflect.” – Mark Twain, 1904.
It can be especially difficult if you’re in some way consciously and deliberately moving away from something the group you’re in holds sacred or might just feel is normal. Maybe there’s a lifestyle choice or behavior or way of thinking the group feels is normal, but you have this higher awareness / intuitive feeling / suspicion / inner voice that is telling you that this “normal” thing is not a good fit for you and might not be serving them either.
You might feel torn between an either/or decision here. Either move away from the heard to this new interest / more aligned value, but be alone, or stay with group and be accepted while tolerating this discomforting feeling that something is wrong.
Defense and examples
What you might not be aware of are all the people who would celebrate this interest / value you have. They might even have it as a prerequisite to be a member of a group they’re in. It might feel so normal to them that they don’t even talk about it because everyone around them has that same interest / value.
Is there something you’re interested in or a value that others around you aren’t interested in or don’t value? How are people relating to you about it? Are they teasing you about that thing? Are they indifferent towards it? Are they actively opposing it? Do you find yourself rolling your eyes at it all? Would you rather this interest or value you have be accepted vs. teased and attacked? A little bit of teasing and playing around is expected, but too much of this and you’ll find yourself in defense about it or you’ll just stop talking about it because it will mean you’re subjected to endless debates, excessive teasing, and/or varying degrees of opposition.
I remember feeling like this when I was working at a job and decided to start juicing. Everyone was usually eating junk food to get some high or escape from the hours of dull, repetitive work of our job. I had secretly been watching lots of people juicing on YouTube and on Netflix (Angela Stokes, Matt Monarch, Philip McCluskey and Joe Cross) for a long time before I decided to go to a raw vegan restaurant. After visiting the raw vegan restaurant, I was so motivated to just jump in and start juicing – so I did. I didn’t say anything to anyone, but did begin to decline invitations to eat junk food, and people saw me drink a lot of different juices at the job. Some were interested in this experiment and why I was doing it, but I noticed there was so much teasing, debate, and even anger and attack (wtf?). I thought to myself – I’m really being attacked for this new thing I want to try? Why? I think because my diet was so clean I heard my intuition a lot louder. I heard this distinct message in me saying “you need to find more like-minded people”.
I also felt this me-against-the-world attitude for not wanting to have a 9-5 job – but everyone around me had one. My family and friends were mainly all employees, so I’ve gotten lots of teasing, attacks and opposition there. It was why I was at that job in the first place. Me taking that job of repetitive, dull and boring work was a result of me giving in to all the pressure and opposition around me who also felt repetitive, dull and boring work was just the thing to do.
This feeling like I was being attacked didn’t change until I went to a workshop by Steve Pavlina – for finding a way to do heart-centered work for $10,000 / month. All the attendees in the workshop had been readers of his blog prior to signing up, so we all shared similar values and connected through his work.
Well – it turns out he’s been vegan for a while and written quite a bit about different health experiments he’s done – so many attendees were also vegan and had also tried their own health experiments.
When I went to this workshop, I was surprised that I didn’t have to defend any of my food choices. What a relief! In fact, we all ate together and everyone had similar food choices to me and we were all interested in each other’s choices. Some were vegan, others were vegetarian, some were juicing, some were drinking smoothies. All of a sudden, all the prior experiments with food I had done isolated and alone were interesting and of value to other people. I just had to find these people who resonated with these things.
At that workshop, I also didn’t have to defend my choice of not wanting a heartless, 9-5 job since the main reason we were there was to find a heart-centered way to make $10,000 / month. There, we were talking about passive income and starting businesses and all the different ways we could create value for people. Are you kidding me? Do you know how many employees hating their jobs have told me to just “get a job” when I didn’t have one back at home?
You are accepted
That experience broke my reality to pieces. I had never met people who accepted me on so many levels. At that point, I realized I was tolerating too much opposition back in Texas, and it raised my standards. At that point, I also knew I needed to hold on to this vibe. This workshop was in Las Vegas, Nevada, so I went back home thinking “I’ve gotta recreate this vibe in Texas somehow”.
And I did. I joined a 12-step program for food addiction and found the same acceptance there and it was amazing – which led me start attending spanking parties and workshops and found an even greater level of acceptance there because it’s so against the norm.
Then I felt like other people needed to feel this amazing feeling of acceptance too – so I made Social Expansion 🙂
After going through several rounds of this social expansion process, you’ll get to this point where you feel – I am accepted. No matter what interest you decide to take a deep dive in or what value you adopt, there will be people who accept, encourage, resonate with, and celebrate it. I think you’ll feel that it’s so worth it to find them and connect with those individuals.
This whole process I went through created space between me and the people who were originally teasing/attacking/resisting me. When we reconnected and they saw me 100+ pounds lighter, for the most part, they related to this aspect about me way differently than they originally did. There wasn’t too much debate. There was way more interest from them when they saw the results I was having. There was still some teasing about all the vegetables I was eating, but it bounced off me because I was so certain that this was a waaay better way to live for me. Internally, it felt like I was a lot stronger and more confident about this part of my lifestyle.
Playing offense to get home
That feeling of being socially accepted feels amazing. So amazing, that now, if I feel like I’m playing too much defense, I know I need to play more offense and be more proactive in finding like-minded people.
When you open the door of social acceptance, it feels like you’re coming home – especially if you’ve been feeling socially rejected. It’s not only validation and confirmation, but it’s light and easy. It’s depth in your connection with the group. It’s mutual respect because everyone involved knows what it was like to step up and put this part of yourself out there amidst opposition. It’s a breath of fresh air you can take while you relax and just be yourself with others who are also relaxing and just being themselves.