There is a common idea that we judge others by their choices. But what happens when a loved one makes a choice we don’t agree with? You have your own choices, hopes, and goals for those you love. When they make a choice that doesn’t align with your own choices, it can sometimes feel impossible to accept. You might even have difficulty loving someone in the same way when they make a choice you don’t agree with.
When you find you can’t accept a loved one’s choice, focus on respecting it instead. Distinguishing between acceptance and respect helps us to preserve our relationships, even when we disagree.
What’s the Difference Between Accepting and Respecting
One of the first things we have to realize is that we actually do not have to accept, approve, understand, or agree with someone else’s choice. Doing so could invalidate your own beliefs, and forcing you to go that route is often ineffective for moving forward. You feel that the other person should make choices that match what you believe is best for them, and you’re going to keep those feelings even after their decision was made.
But in reality, we cannot make others’ decisions for them. We can offer input and advice, but we each make our own choices. If a relationship and connection are important enough, we don’t need to accept/understand those choices. We just need to learn to respect them.
Respect is about recognizing our loved one’s decisions and their right to make those decisions. In your relationship, respect helps you acknowledge the validity of the other person’s thoughts and feelings. You might not have made the same decision for this person, but you understand that they have their own reasons for making it, and you’ll nbe there for them no matter what happens.
In a strong relationship, you do not need to accept every choice others make. Instead work on genuinely demonstrating respect, even when you feel negatively towards someone’s choice.
Learning to Respect Other Choices
Working with a qualified therapist in Long Island can help you distinguish between acceptance and respect, and learn to respect choices that you otherwise would struggle with. Like any skill, it can take time and practice to learn how to respect the choices of loved ones. Decisions can often be fraught with emotion too, which can be an added difficulty in practicing respect. A therapist can help guide you towards the right path.
You also need to realize that the choices of others are not a reflection on you. You do not need to own any responsibility for their choices. Perhaps you might offer thoughts, but they alone are responsible for their final choice. Knowing this can give you the power to distance yourself from choices you can’t accept. You’ll be able to live with the choice, rather than judge it or be emotionally impacted by it. When you acknowledge choices as not belonging to you, it becomes easier to respect the choices you can’t accept.
To learn more about our couples counseling services for those looking to build respect in their relationships, contact Long Island Psychology today.