Ask Parvati 36: Relationships: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want – Part 2: Acceptance Versus Resignation

BY Parvati

(Continued from Balanced Compromise)

Compromise is different from acceptance. After we make a compromise, we learn to accept our choices. If we choose not to compromise, we also must accept our choices. We can easily mistake acceptance for powerlessness, as though the word were synonymous with “throwing in the towel” and resignation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Acceptance is a powerful place. In fact, true change only begins once acceptance occurs. We may want to change our partner. We can try to push him/her into doing what we want over and over again. But that will only lead to two people feeling unhappy. If we want change, we must soberly look at what is and accept it, which means not trying to push our will into trying to change the way things are to suit our needs.
To accept is to be in non-resistance to what is. Acceptance is active in a non-forceful way. It is dynamic in a quiet way. Acceptance is alive, because when we are acceptant, we flow with the force of life. Think of nature. The flower is. It is in a state of acceptance of its flower nature. It is not trying to change things. It is in flow with the force of life.
Being passive is closer to being resigned. When we are passive, we could be very much in discord with what is, resistant to it, angry at it, hating it, resenting it. In this passive state, there is no acceptance. We are energetically against what is. In this, there is much unhappiness.
When we are acceptant of what is, we can meet the moment. We open. We can see more options, feel more joy, share more love, tap into the infinite source of love that is all around. When we are acceptant, we love.
Being acceptant does not mean that we like all this moment brings. Maybe this moment is full of horror and atrocities. If we are passive in the face of such, we immobilize ourselves and thwart the possibility of change. If we are aggressive in the face of such, we may implicate ourselves into the whirlwind of the horror. When we accept what is, without necessarily agreeing with it, we find tremendous creativity and possibility.
Intimate relationships are active, alive entities that exist between two people. It is part one person, part the other person and part something that is from neither. I do not think that relationship are two halves that make a whole, but two wholes that co-create possibility. We can find this kind of “positive possibilities” relationship only when we are willing to accept what is and be responsible to manage our own energies, not try to change others.
I have never understood the term “agree to disagree”. It just does not make sense. Where is the co-creation in that? To me, that is resignation said politely. To me, that is relationship death. I believe in every moment there is a place of golden resonance, where two people can expand and tap into vitality. If both people are not willing to go there, it can be harder to find together. But it does not mean that you cannot find that place of expansion and beauty. Perhaps, once you have tapped into that bounty, your partner will be more inspired to go there as well, without you trying to make that decision for him/her.
When we are fixated on trying to choose between an either/or, we tend to feel unhappy with both. I am sure you have been there. You are caught in a dilemma. You feel you have to choose between option A or option B. Neither feels right. But you cannot see any other option. You feel pressure to make a decision. From my experience, if A and B both feel off, then you must choose C. The thing is, we often cannot see C so we don’t know how to choose it.
The third option is born out of acceptance and non-resistance. It is often somewhere between two extremes. Our mind tends to work in opposites. We think good/bad, ugly/beautiful, happy/sad… It is part of our human nature to think in extremes.
The Buddha, thousands of years ago called his path “The Middle Way”. The expansive, enlightened choice often is the third option, the middle way, somewhere between A and B. Not necessarily as a literal cutting down the middle, but a third option that feels balanced between two. Acceptance opens us to the middle way so that we do not get stuck with A or B. When we are not stuck on either, C may arise. C was always there. We were just too busy thinking only A or B existed to see it.
There is a wonderful story in traditional yogic teachings of the monkey and the banana. How do you trap a monkey? You place a banana in a metal cage and wait for the monkey to come and grab it. When it does, it cannot pull the long thin banana through the cage bars. Its mind so fixated on wanting that banana, it does not see if it turned the banana sideways, its arm would slip right through the bars. We are often like that, because we are busy fighting what is, due to our attachments. When we practice acceptance, we gain insight and option C opens to us.
Tomorrow I will look at what finding insight through acceptance looks like with a real life example in Acceptance and Insight.
Till then,