Growing Beyond Tolerance and Into Acceptance
“I know I am not seeing things as they are; I’m seeing things as I am.” –Laurel Lee.
This insight resonates as deep wisdom to me. These words affirm a point of view that I believe is true, yet grasping the idea of the quote I cannot call it ‘the truth.’ The concept clearly reveals that our beliefs are not facts, and it is our personal and collective beliefs that shape and color our entire reality.
During the journey of a lifetime, it’s common to seek answers and to want to know the truth. Many people question our experience of reality. They want to know why we’re here. We often call that a quest for meaning—a search for the truth. On our search for truth, most of us discover and identify our personal beliefs about life, about creation, about humanity, about god, and so on. We often find others who share our beliefs. Sometimes we adopt a rigid position that our personal beliefs are the truth. Then, applying our beliefs we begin to judge, assess, and evaluate all that we experience, observe, and hear. This process is perfectly natural and there is no guilt or shame in it. The process of seeing things as I am allows me to create my entire perception of reality. (This is what I believe. Do you hear me laughing?)
Accepting the difference between facts and beliefs helps me be open to the “truths” of others. I hold a complete canon of beliefs that create my values and govern my behavior. I am more comfortable with diversity when I accept that everyone is free to live life according to his or her own beliefs—just as I do. The more I practice letting go of my urge to defend my beliefs as if they are facts, the easier it is to welcome disagreement and a wide diversity of concepts. Allowing others the same freedom I desire helps me listen more openly to the beliefs held by others. This openness creates space for my personal “truths” to grow. Furthermore, this openness eliminates stress around wanting others to confirm my beliefs—proving I’m right. Even more importantly, when I distinguish between beliefs and facts, I more easily let go of wanting others to conform to my personal beliefs. This works because I have come to accept that my beliefs are not facts. I release notions and feelings telling me that my beliefs equal “the truth”. (As I wrote that, another chuckle occurred.)
For example, I have an unshakable belief that life is everlasting. I know people who believe just as strongly that life is finite. I tell these friends that when they die, come find me and we’ll have a laugh. Then, I admit that if they’re right—I’ll never know, and I laugh now. Neither belief can be proven as fact, so I enjoy living with a belief in eternal life. And, I easily accept people who believe life is finite. I don’t need to fret about the beliefs of others, and I certainly don’t need to convince others that my beliefs are right.
With practice,recognizing the obvious difference between facts and personal beliefs transforms beyond knowledge into integrated heartfelt behavior. This practice allows me to grow beyond tolerating others into a graceful acceptance of vast diversity. This transformation is a challenge worthy of my creativity. The peace of mind acceptance brings is a valuable incentive. Well, that is what I believe. Do you still hear me laughing?
Like others, I enjoy talking to people who share my beliefs. It is joyful to encounter others who agree with me. It’s fun for me to share my opinions and beliefs about life, creation, human nature, spirituality, and so much more. I confess that sometimes I still follow the urge to defend my beliefs as if they are facts. I don’t claim perfection nor do I seek it. When I practice catching myself defending a personal belief as if it is “the truth”—I laugh. I pay close attention to ideas and issues that trigger my defensive behavior regarding my beliefs. I acknowledge that these concepts represent my most cherished beliefs. These are the beliefs that form my values. My judgment defines who I am. There is no guilt or shame in judging what is right or wrong, good or bad for me. When I act as if I can judge what is right or wrong, good or bad for others, I have forgotten that I am just seeing things as I am. I easily sidestep any coaching to bash my ego for acting up.
Intention to Promote Acceptance: I easily recognize the difference between facts and beliefs. I remind myself that my beliefs form personal truths, not universal truths. I invite others to enjoy sharing their point of view, and I welcome diversity around beliefs. I do my best to refrain from the tendency to defend my beliefs as if I know a universal truth. Naturally, I accept that my beliefs sound like the truth to me. I joyfully practice letting go of the notion that others must conform to or confirm my beliefs. With eyes wide open, I’m able to love myself just as I am, and I love you with equal acceptance. I select the beliefs that shape and color my entire reality, and so do you. I am free to be me. You are free to be you. It’s okay if our beliefs differ. I am not afraid of your beliefs, and I let go of any urge to prove that I’m right.