How to Accept Others When They Don't Accept You

Note: This is a guest post from Lisa H of Getting to Zen
If you intimidate someone or treat them with some other dramatic action, you are inviting trouble. Yes, it’s possible to affect change in another person this way; however, it is not advisable because the results can be undesirable and at times disastrous.
For example, imagine an employee that has been forced to take a leave of absence after arriving at work late. The relationship between the manager and that employee would likely be strained, especially if the leave of absence was delivered after the first offense. However, if the employee’s manager had expressed a little compassion, and asked why his employee had been late, the relationship between the two might have remained in tact.

Everybody has a past

We are more similar to each other than we are different. However, there will be those times in our life when we encounter someone who just rubs us the wrong way. Although it may be challenging at first, we must still treat those persons with dignity and respect.
Everybody has a past. You don’t know what another person has seen, heard or experienced that makes them behave the way they do–just like your experiences have shaped you. Take for example someone who has been in a relationship with a partner who was unkind to them. With that knowledge, you may be able to understand why they have trouble trusting others or are even unkind themselves. Or maybe they grew up being bullied for most of their childhood, and now they are a bully.

Everyone wants to feel needed

This is not to say that we have to condone or tolerate “bad” behavior, but we can have compassion in our dealings with them. There is an important yet intangible thing that everybody wants, and that is acceptance. Being accepted and appreciated makes a person feel needed and wanted. Acceptance gives us a whole lot of reason to exist. A recent testament to this is the five boys that committed suicide as a result of their lifestyle choice not being accepted. On a primitive level, being accepted is an outward acknowledgement that we are one of the many human beings that is sharing the planet at this time.

Compassion is everything

Now I am not saying that you need to befriend someone who is causing you discomfort. They may not even want to be your friend. I am talking about not judging them””not causing them any more pain than they are probably already in. If you think that it is hard for you to be around them, imagine how hard it is for them. They have to be with themselves for 24 hours a day. Avoid purposely doing things to sabotage or harm them in any way, including gossiping. If you need to vent, talk to a close friend.

Communication leads to understanding

Many times people come to an impasse because they don‘t know how to communicate with each other. Friendship, family and work relationships all have been severed due to poor communication. Father’s no longer speaking to sons and sisters that have been estranged for so long that it would be hard for them to recognize each other.
I remember a time when I tried to “clear the air” between I and a co-worker. And although I approached the situation calmly and with a spirit of resolution, it didn’t go well. My co-worker was unwilling to listen to how her actions were making me feel. What I realized then was that not everyone wants to “clear the air.” Some people want drama and stress–and that is their right. Now of course if you ask them, they would say that they don’t, but you would be able to see that their actions showed otherwise.

Interacting is Learning

You can learn from your perceived adversaries. Interacting or not interacting with them teaches you about you. Why do you have a problem with them? Do they remind you of someone else who behaves similarly? Maybe they remind you of yourself? Or are they just not your flavor of friend? Your adversaries can teach you much more about yourself than your friends. Don’t let these sort of opportunities go by without learning the lesson.

Next Steps

Hold your head high. Focus on yourself. Move forward with confidence and humility. Be kind to others. Be honest with yourself. Trust in your goodness. Refrain from judgment or acting out behaviors that create negative experiences. The time that you have on this earth is limited and precious. Acknowledge that by spreading positivity and lightness wherever you go.
Lisa H. (aka RunningBear) is the founder of Getting to Zen which includes articles on personal development, enlightenment, consciousness and awareness. You can sign up for her RSS feed or follow her on Twitter. In addition to blogging, Lisa enjoys long distance running, cooking, and sewing.
Photo by Neal


  1. It always great to be honest with yourself and give the best of yourself to others. Its a great what to focus away from internal insecurities and create external success.

    • Yes, we can only truly feel good about ourselves when we are honest with ourselves about who we are and avoid buying into other’s beliefs about us.

  2. Great subject. You can’t expect to control other people’s feelings, but you can influence them.
    When I don’t feel excepted, I make an added effort to get involved more with the group, person, or party that I want to be accepted by. Invite them over, volunteer in a meeting, do something that shows my commitment.
    The law of reciprocity will do the rest over time.

    • Hi Bryce,
      Thank you. That’s for sure! The only person’s feelings you can control are your own. What I have learned over the years is that some people just don’t want to be accepting of certain people and there is nothing that you can do to influence that.
      In fact, you trying to gain acceptance may even cause them to ignore you more or treat you worse. Those kinds of people, you just have to understand that the issue is theirs and let them be.
      You may not have even done anything to them. Maybe they feel threatened by you, are jealous or you remind them of someone they don’t like.
      The best thing is to take care of yourself.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Like what you said.
        Many times I felt much easier to ignore or forget adversaries if I know I can take care of myself.

  3. Wow! I read this whole post a couple of times before I think I got what you meant… Lisa, you ‘talk’ about putting yourself in another’s shoes then you don’t practice what you preach. You are some judgmental and arrogant person. Why would you go ‘clear the air’ with someone else… probably it was more of an attack to the other person than the compassionate ‘let me tell you what’s wrong with you, so I can feel better’ than you intended.
    Why would you think it’s if it’s hard for you to live with someone, that it’s hard for them to live with themselves. Everyone is here to learn what they’re here to learn. Their lessons may clash with your lessons. Bless them and leave them with their lessons.
    You even stated that you weren’t being judgmental, but you were constantly putting down an other persons feelings and actions, because they didn’t fit into your reality.
    Stop trying to be a guru! Listen to yourself, pay attention to what you say and examine your intentions before you spread them all over people who make look up to you.

    • Hi Amy,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Yes, I think that it is important to empathize with others. We are all shaped by the experiences we have had–some of them good– and some of them not so good. But either way, we are who we are because of them.
      To me, clearing the air is not about blame, it is meant to acknowledge that the relationship is off track and to make a plan on how to move forward.
      I have found that having a conversation with someone whom you have a fractured relationship with to be essential in getting it back on track–in fact, it may be the only way to get it back on track. Without a conversation, a once beautiful relationship may remain fractured. I have found communication to be key for resolution.
      Regarding it being hard for someone to live with themselves… People who cause pain are in pain. If someone is unhappy or miserable, they will be unhappy or miserable whether they are around you or not.
      Very true, everyone does have their own lessons to learn, and we should be respectful of that. 🙂
      Happy Holidays

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks so much for such an insightful article. With every paragraph, I found myself nodding along. Yes, we all have a past and reasons why we act as we do, we all want to feel needed, and it’s true that sometimes people we care about just don’t want to be our friends or work out conflicts, even when we do our very best to try to discuss things after a conflict and come to a better understanding of each other.
    I’ve known people, people I love and care about, who just aren’t comfortable talking about things when they go badly (and I’m usually first up to say I’m sorry, if needed, and explain what I did or said and why, ask what can I do better or different). They don’t know how to resolve things or it’s just not what they’re into (I’ve had to learn this, though). Or when we do try to discuss differences or ask that they treat us differently after they’ve done something hurtful to us (my ex-husband comes to mind) they may feel the request is unreasonable and that we’re trying to “change” them or say something is “wrong” with them. But that’s not it; sometimes we need to explain how we are and what we need (or can’t handle) to feel comfortable in a relationship, and hope the other understands and will treat us differently and see what we can do differently as well. And we listen and do the same for the other. It’s not about judgment; it’s about compromise and mutual respect and conflict resolution. That takes some skill.
    I’ve known some very angry people, and there’s no way to reason with them or “clear the air.” But I didn’t always know that (I’ve been so naive in some ways!). A previous neighbor comes to mind–I wasn’t the only one who moved away due to his outrageous noise-making and F-words and yelling at kids all the time, etc. We tried, we had mediation with the township after talks with him didn’t work, but it was always us, never him. We had no privacy because his world was always in our face whether music blasting outside or kids toys flying over the fence, DJ parties, kids knocking at the door for the toys (way too often–once in awhile is normal or to be expected), dogs barking, dog poop smelling so often from his yard etc etc (pretty bad, in an otherwise quiet, suburban neighborhood–people gossiped; it was awful). I always had to remind myself that he has his reasons, he is where he’s at, end of story. I had to get it through my head that someone always so angry as he was just isn’t very happy in the first place, and they don’t want to get along with me, for whatever reason. And knowing he was hurting in some way (happy people just don’t go round treating others as he did–I’ll never forget how he smashed his little girl’s pink bike all over the driveway) helped me to have compassion for him, and let a lot go and not get annoyed, upset, and angry with him (it was hard, and I wasn’t always successful).
    Well anyway, thanks for the reminder with this: “not everyone wants to “clear the air.” Some people want drama and stress–and that is their right.” I needed to be reminder of this because there are some people I’ve cared about and loved who prefer to “sweep things under the rug” and never talk about anything and just pretend everything is fine when it’s not. And there’s nothing I can do about that except stay away so I’m not in the line of fire yet another time. One person alone can’t make a relationship (marital, friends, family, whatever) work when two people are involved and one doesn’t want to clear the air and make the relationship better and stronger.
    Well that’s a novel–hard to put my thoughts into words on this one but thank you. I needed the reminder that people just are the way they are 🙂

    • Hi Leah,
      Thanks for adding so much to the conversation. It is tough when you want to repair a relationship with someone and they don’t. You can only do your part by putting out what you want and then leaving the rest up to them and the universe.
      Sweeping things under the rug doesn’t solve anything. In fact it makes things worse. I too know people whose relationships have been fractured by their lack of communication. I am talking brothers, sisters and fathars and sons.
      Yes, not everyone wants to get along and be happy. This was also a stark realization for me. However, it is knowledge well worth knowing. 🙂 Thanks again for stopping by.

  5. this is something very hard to do.but the way you explained stuff it don’t seem that hard.people should start putting these into practise.

    • Hi Dana,
      Thanks for the visit. Glad you found the information helpful. It was a bit tough putting what I was thinking down on paper. Thanks for the support. :-)In order to fully accept others, we must first accept ourselves.

  6. So true! If we don’t accept others of the reason of them not accepting us, where would the world finish, sometimes we should make the other person feel important or needed like you wrote, for the sake of bringing happiness to the other person. The world has too many people with depression and with those small things we can bring them back to life
    Have a great day!

    • Hello hyunsoung kim,
      Thank you for stopping by. Feeling accepted is one of our most primal needs–the need to feel like we belong. Acceptance can be show in both large and small way–a kind greeting, a smile, a funny joke, a compliment or a random act of kindness. 🙂

  7. Hi! This is a pretty powerful piece standing from where I am right now. It’s been a challenge trying to build better communication lines, stretching your patience, dissecting the “past” and “histories” to the point of overkill – if only to accept, no, understand and accept others AS THEY ARE. What I learned, however, is that not all people want to be accepted and not everyone considers you or me as A person who has a role in their life. Do we push harder and be more patient? Do we reach out some more and longer? This is where hope and faith sets in. We can only hope that things will be better and strengthen our faith that there’s some power in the universe that can make things better. But as we hold both hope and faith, we also have to LIVE ON and LIVE WELL. If we indulge the issue too much, what about the better aspects of life. Shine as you are just the same, even of others shut their doors and windows to your light. 🙂 That was one good thing I learned this year. I intend to carry it on for the next 365 days and more… Happy new year to all of you here, especially Lisa!

    • Hello arina,
      Thanks for the visit. I love what you said about building better communcation lines, stretching your patience, dissecting the “past” and “histories” to the point of overkill.” We can only do as much as we can and then leave the rest up to the universe.
      True, not everyone considers you or me as a person who has a role in their life. I have experienced this myself with people who I very much wanted to be friends with but the feeling was not mutual. This can sometimes be painful and hard to understand, especially if it is a friendship that you want to work.
      The only thing we can do is express our desires and then leave the situation alone. The connection will only go as far as BOTH people want it to. As you say, spend your time LIVING ON and LIVING WELL.
      Happy New Year to you too!!!

    • The only problem I truly see is not that people not only choose not to accept you but to try to get you to copy them by forcing you to change to their levels

  8. Subconscious communication can have a very strong impact in these kinds of situations. There’s one lady I met. Every time she met a man, he ended up being aggressive towards her. Just being around her I was starting to feel aggressive. Turns out she had lots of anger repressed in her heart about where she grew up. She was emanating that aggressiveness in her energy and people were subconsciously picking it up. I did some healing work with her to release that anger, and she hasn’t experienced that problem ever since.
    Emotional communication is something important to look at. It affects every interactions in our lives in ways that we don’t see.

    • Hello Etienne,
      Very true! I love the term “Subconscious communication.” People have all sorts of things about them that transmit both positive and negative energy. This helps to explain why we just don’t feel good around certain people that we meet for the first time.
      What type of healing work did you do? Was it counseling? Body work?

    • Why can’t women be angry ? We feel in my mind that sometimes we need to change a woman’s demeanor based on her gender. What you did is a great thing but could they do that with a man as well?

  9. This is why I always encourage people to remember that you might not be able to trust people to be good, but you can always trust them to be human.

    • Hi Seth,
      I love that!!! I’ll definitely be using it! Being human encompasses so much. The good, the bad and the ugly, of which we are a part of us all. Thanks for the visit.

  10. […] to the next “level”. If you have read some of my earlier posts, (You are not the Boss of Me and How to Accept Others when They don’t Accept You) you would know that the universe put a challenging person in my path to help teach me this very […]

  11. First of all, thank you for posting this.
    I, for the past 10 years, have had a lot of difficulty in dealing with my sister-in-law. It is so difficult for me, in fact, that I have sacrificed seeing my two nephews just so that I can limit my face time with her.
    I am a practicing buddhist and I often feel conflicted between my relationship with her and my own spiritual path. It is difficult to carry these feelings of contempt and resentment and, yet, still reconcile those feelings with my own spiritual beliefs.

    • Hi Les,
      You’re welcome. Forgiveness an acceptance is something that I have been working on all year. I understand what you mean about not seeing your nephews so that you can limit face time with your sister-in-law. Sometimes we have to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and it sounds like your nephews are at an age that you will have to go through her to see them. One of the things that has helped me most in my journey of acceptance is the following video:
      Take a look at it and let me know what you think.
      Lisa H.

  12. […] person since the Spring of last year. I won’t go into detail here, you can read the saga in How to Accept Others When they Don’t Accept You. From the beginning I knew that the universe had presented me with an opportunity to grow. I had […]

  13. This article post makes all the difference of everyday life

  14. I am totally agree with @trish Chasity thinking.

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