I Challenged Myself To Accept My Friends Without Judgment — Here’s What Happened

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Self

Loving your friends, despite their flaws, is hard.

Radical Acceptance has really made me think and evaluate what I need out of life. If you’re not familiar, I first learned about the concept from the book Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love by Andrea Miller.

Andrea is the founder and CEO of YourTango (i.e. my boss) and she challenged some of the writers and editors on staff to try to incorporate the idea of “radical acceptance” — extending condition-free empathy and compassion to the important people on our lives — for 60 days.

When I thought about where Radical Acceptance might make the most difference in my life, the answer came to me almost immediately — my friends.

I’m only 21, so I’ve viewed a lot of my friendships as disposable over the years because I live in a generation that has taught me what toxic relationships could look like.

And I don’t mean disposable like I used them in anyway. I mean I felt I didn’t need them in my life (after a certain period of time) because they felt draining to me.

All the friends I have now are close friends, ones that I’ve trusted at one point or another to be personable with, which isn’t easy for me, but that’s a whole other story.

But, even now, whenever I feel alone or down or just too emotional to let someone know that I need any type of affection, I analyze how good that friend really is.

My mind goes to all the little things that they could easily do, but don’t. Like avidly complaining about their dirty roommate when they could be cleaner as well, or opening up to me constantly without asking how I was doing. (Ironic, isn’t it?)

The extra irony is that I just professed my need for affection, and instead of asking for it, I hesitated by calling out their flaws, so instead of trusting someone, I easily cut them out emotionally before I shed a tear about my parents, or school, or work.

So, now that we have that build-up, during the 60 days of my challenge, I focused my time studying and reflecting Radical Acceptance on my friends.

 

I have a close-knit circle, but I never reveal much about my inner desires so-to-say, because I block them out. But, with some conscious thought, within the two months I’ve spent with this beautiful concept, I decided not to care.

I told myself it’s not worth the energy spent being angry with someone for cancelling plans, or being a little selfish one day, or the other senseless things that a person can hold bad emotions towards. On top of that, I reminded myself that I can trust these people, so that the less angry I felt with them, the more I can feel like my emotions aren’t driving me nuts.

And guess what? It panned out pretty well, even though I was an anxious mess a lot.

After the 60 days, I’ve never wanted to be with my friends more.

I’m definitely not the most social person, but I almost feel excited to have dinner with someone or go on a hike with someone because I feel like I can talk about anything — like my fears about the future, feeling miserable at school, or admitting out loud that someone made me feel bad once (although that took some courage).

I still have a far way to go practicing Radical Acceptance because friendships seem easy in retrospect to a romantic partner, my parents, or myself, but I can definitely say the grass is a little greener because of it (and I live in Arizona where grass isn’t very natural to begin with).

 

"Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love" by Andrea Miller is now available to order online.

 

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